For a while now I have been working on a self-assigned project to photograph people in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. One of several goals of the project is to show the work in an exhibit that I will be doing with painter and pastel artist Bill Tyers. That goal, along with the always-present desire and requirement to expand my portfolio, has allowed me to meet and be introduced to many people whom I may not have otherwise met. For this I have utilized several of my networks. A few of my subjects were either part of, or were introduced to me by members of some of the business networking groups that I belong to in Lowell, Chelmsford and Westford, Massachusetts. Other meetings came about as a result of simply asking clients and Twitter contacts if they would pose, and if they could think of other people who might make interesting subjects and might pose as well.
One such person, referred to me in the latter category, was Fru Nkimbeng, originally of Cameroon, and now President of the African Cultural Association of Lowell. The association puts on the Lowell African Festival along the river each year, and which took place just last weekend. Fru works in Information Technology, so between our common experiences in that and our short conversation in French upon first meeting, I think the trepidations that Fru had in my photographing him were lessened. But being very active in the local African community, we both thought that he should be shown in traditional dress of Cameroon. For a photographer, the oranges, reds and blues in his garments were a gift.
If you are a photographer, and you like to photograph people, but don't know whom to ask, my advice is to just start somewhere. Ask that first person if they will pose and then ask if they might know other interesting people who would also be interested in posing. Keep doing that and after a while you will have a very long list. Networks work for more than just getting referrals for business in the traditional way.