By Kevin Doyon
Kevin Bennett spoke to Husson University students about the business side of freelance photography Thursday night at Husson University. (Courtesy Photo)
BANGOR, Maine — Some were in attendance to learn more about photography, some were interested in hearing about the ins and outs of a possible career path, and others were simply encouraged to go by their professors for extra credit. Regardless of the reasoning, two dozen Husson students took part in a unique opportunity at the University’s Beardsley’s Meeting House Thursday night to hear about what it is like to be a freelance photographer.
Kevin Bennett spoke in in regards to that, including the business aspect and the importance of taking risks and networking. He also presented a slideshow of pictures he took as well as the story behind each one of them.
One image in particular, a close up picture of an old style tractor wheel, stood out.
“I woke up one morning and my neighbor said ‘there’s frost on the tractor wheel.’ I said ‘I’m there,” said Bennett.
He drove down the road and snapped a few pics of the tractor on a crisp morning; not because he needed such a picture, but because there was the chance that he may later on.
“Three years later I got a call,” he said. “And now it’s the cover of a magazine.”
It is instances such as that, why Bennett stresses the importance of making your own opportunity.
“If I’m sitting around, I’m not making money,” he said. “When you work for yourself, you have to go out and create for yourself. Procrastination and freelancing don’t mix well.”
Bennett, who worked for the Bangor Daily News from 1994-2014, stressed to students the importance of networking and how it can lead to job opportunities when you have your own business.
“I had been doing networking for 20 years without even realizing it,” he said. “When it comes to most jobs people reach out to me because a friend or a coworker, or just someone they know recommended me.”
Jeffrey Hope, a Journalism/Sports Journalism instructor at NESCom, echoed those thoughts: “People want you specifically because of your personality and your quality of work.” Hope also added “networking can be intimidating at first, but just like everything else in the news business, practice is key.”
The event was made possible by the NESCom Student Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). Patrick Caldwell, the chapter’s President, had high praise for Bennett.
“Kevin Bennett always gives amazing advice about how to network and be the best professional version of yourself that you can be,” he said. “He has a great business plan. I think the most valuable takeaway from Bennett’s presentation was that he stressed the importance of networking. It’s always overlooked how vital it can be. Some person you meet could give you a huge chance down the road.”
Bennett touched upon how freelancing can be done by anyone who is willing to work for it and that the younger generation may already be a step ahead.
“Social media is a big part of it. You guys are lucky because it is already a part of your lives, when I started social media was new.”
Where to be when taking photos, what to look for, how much to charge, how to present yourself, and when to say yes or no to an assignment were also things that Bennett gave advice on.
“I’ll leave you with this,” he said. “If you’re working for yourself, do what you want, but be open to all opportunities. Your goal should be to find something that nobody has ever seen before. Freelancing is hard work but it is very joyous and rewarding.”