COM0015 – BLOG #4 – One more piece of the puzzle

As a photographer (working for federal government) I also have my side business and I understand what’s involved in the challenge of managing your own enterprise.

When I started this Social Media Course about a year and a half ago, I felt that Social Media and Photography would be a great complement to each other. I also knew that I wanted to eventually work on a plan for the Martial Art School I am attending. It is a small local business with an owner who comes from Venezuela and since I joined only a couple months following the opening, I get to witness the progress of his academy as one of the first adults in the group. I regularly have discussions with the owner about his school and processes, whether it concerns physical renovations or social medias posts and recruiting, etc.

Creating a social media plan and especially the SWOT analysis for a business that is outside my field (photography) and comparing its performance to other schools in the area was something that allowed me to analyze somehow outside my comfort zone.

I realized that I was really enjoying having an input into his growing business. Integrating Networking + Social Media + Business/marketing turned out to be very interesting. It felt as if everything was falling into place. Just the way I felt Social Media and Photography would complement each other. I think that, moving forward, I will be seeking some courses in marketing, as this is probably the missing piece of the puzzle.

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Screenshot of ebomartialarts.com

COMM0015 – BLOG #3 – Make friends

At some point in my military career I was an official photographer for a VIP. During this time, I had the extreme opportunity to work and travel alongside some of the best news photographers in Canada and abroad.

Knowing that this assignment was only temporary, I was preparing the next phase in my career and I needed to work on a Plan B. I decided to register my business as a photographer and started to compare my workflow with what the other photographers were doing.

MEDIA PIT 2

Prime minister Swearing In ceremony, November 2015 – Photo by Justin Tang

In order to gain access to their incredible knowledge, I had to extend my hand out, introduce myself, observe how they were working, ask questions and most of all, try my best to return the favor and I would even take some pictures of them while working some of the historic stories we had the pleasure of covering. Make friends. That was my strategy. And it worked.

Fortunately it was during the time that Facebook and Instagram were becoming popular so that helped me connect with them on the longer term. I have since continued to pick on their brain from time to time but the best of all is that I managed to follow their incredible work, daily.

Regardless of the network I am trying to create, online or in person, this is the strategy I would adopt in order to grow my own network:

  1. Be friendly,
  2. Ask questions,
  3. Try my best to give back,
  4. Stay in touch,

It has since become a habit to look around to see what my colleagues are doing and how I can connect them. I believe that once you have added this to your routine it just becomes second nature. I don’t believe much in competition; after all, we are never going to run out of light…

In the near future, I plan on growing my network by connecting with other colleagues within government to see how they manage Social Medias in their department. I will of course start with our own then go from there.

Would you know someone with a photography background that work in social media?

COMM0015 – Blog #1 – Maybe I should

Let’s be real honest here, I have not yet taken the habit of listening/monitoring social medias very seriously. Two reasons motivates this; 1 – At work there is a team dedicated to this and 2 – For my side business as a photographer, I am not currently looking for more work and can afford the luxury of choosing the assignments I want to take on, and, thanks to a permanent job within government, I am also fine with not having any.

Luckily for me, the photography industry is out there in almost every platforms and it remains fairly easy to stay on top of things by following my favorite photographers and gear manufacturer on Facebook and Instagram and still remain aware of what is going on in the industry, locally or internationally.

At work, my colleagues use the pro version of Hootsuite. I like how customizable, clean and precise it can be. It also allows them to work as a team to respond to comments and create engagement as well as schedule posts into the various platforms we use. Should I decide to become more serious I would probably use this system combined with various Google alerts

On Facebook, I get to see in a rawer version how other photographer use their creativity to market their services while I use Instagram to get inspired and monitor the trends in the techniques used by the photographers I follow.

While I prefer a more laid back approach, do not mistake this as a lack of interest or pure laziness on my end. I am very active on these two Social Medias and interact daily with my colleagues and friend in the industry.

COMM0014 – Blog #7 – There is always 2 sides to a medal.

As a photojournalist, telling stories is what my job is. There are always 2 sides to a medal and, as a staff photographer I get to show our side of it. The medias can take care of the other side.

VICTORIA CROSS MEDAL

Photo of the medals awarded to Lt.-Col. David Currie during the Second World War including the Victoria Cross. Photo by Serge Gouin

With a minimum of information, a time, place and a contact name, I need to be able to show up at any location with the appropriate gear, and document any event in a way that will go along the lines of what my client is hoping.

There is rarely only one client since, many department can benefit from these images. If I do it right, I can supply images for the event manager (most likely to promote the event the next year), the social media team, the recruiting team, our image bank and even the participants themselves.

Understanding your audience, the impact you are hoping to get is crucial. Learning to please most of it is something I need to deal with on a daily basis. Experience is the key and feedback is the most precious thing you can ever get.

Telling a story is not hard for me. That being said, the challenge is always there. What if the light is not as nice as you expected? What if only 10 people showed up to this rally? What do you do if it rains? …

You just need to find the right angle. Our angle. Our side of the medal.

 

 


 

If you wish to read about the medal’s story, click here

COMM0014 – Blog #6 – Photography was my plan B.

Sego Basic Training

Basic Training portrait taken by the base photographer, 2002.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to wear a uniform. As a teenager I wanted to become an Infantry soldier. But I wanted a plan B in case that did not work or I change my mind. I made sure to complete my High School and went to CEGEP (College in Quebec) in order to get a diploma in something else. This is where I started photography in a Photo club and I loved it so much that I chose to study it at La cite Collegiale in Ottawa.

Perfect timing: about a month before I graduated, a Military recruiter came to our class with openings in the dream job I did not even know existed: Imagery technician in the Canadian Armed Forces. “Where do I sign?” was my question when I raised my hand at the end of the presentation.

Sgt Serge Gouin

Portrait of me before I retired from the military in 2012. Photo by MCpl Pierre Thériault, DND.

Fast forward 11 years in my career as an Image-tech, it was time for us to make some tough choices and decided that we did not want our family to move anymore. I had to be realistic: photography is not a trade that offers a lot of permanent openings. As a plan B, I registered my business and started getting equipment and taking small jobs on the side. This way, even if I did not find work in my field, I could continue to work my art (and pay the bills).

Once again, I was lucky and I managed to score a position, as a photographer, within our federal government where I have been working for 6 more years now.

sego silhouette

Silhouette of me working in 2017. Photo by Rick Millette.

As the saying goes: “Timing is everything”, and if you have a Plan B, you increase your chances to be happy in life. At least it worked for me.

Do you have a plan B?

COMM0014 – Blog #5 – Experience is what sets me apart.

I am an artist that likes to wear a tie, the quiet gentlemen that listen to metal music. I am the pacific guy that trains to fight every week and a couch-potato that runs ultra marathons. I am patient and easily gets excited with new projects. When you hire me, you are not only getting a photographer, you get a partner that will help you realize your project and document it in a way that will write history, your story.

My experience is what sets me apart. I had the honour of working as the official photographer to the Governor General for 4 years (2007 to 2010) and, now, I continue to work as a photographer, documenting our Mounties.

I have photographed countless of historical events, including a number of state visits, the Olympics in Vancouver, the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti and our troops in Afghanistan. I got to bring my camera to over 26 countries and most of our own country and to photograph many known and unknown personalities.

One thing that I am the most proud of is the exhibit that I had the pleasure of putting together for Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. Click here to see it. 

Photo_expo_text_panel03

This panel explains what the exhibit is about and a little more about me.

Considering that I continue to be staff photographer for our federal police, I am fortunate that I do not need to promote myself very aggressively. It fits well with my brand, to be discreet and make noise with my megapixels.

COMM0014 – BLOG #3 -Variable audience

As you may know by now, I’m a photographer . I have two kind of clients: 1- The strategists from my full time Job and, 2- my sideline photography business.

Serge photographe

Taking pictures of Garance

I quickly realized that I always have more than one client for my products of the same event. For example, if I take photos at a parade, I might take some close ups that can be used by the recruiting department and artistic photos for the social media teams. If I am lucky, the boss might use some for her twitter account and so on. The audience varies depending on the strategists and their specific projects and I try and bring home a variety of images that tells the story and will suit everyone.

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Screenshot @CommrRCMPGRC ‘s Twitter account using my pictures of a parade.

For my business, it is a totally different picture. My audience consists of my friends, my family, local families and businesses in my community. They usually come from my network, meaning people I work/train with, friends or mouth-to-ear referrals. They are mid-class to wealthy people (meaning they can afford professional photography services). I find it interesting when I look at my client’s sessions page. It gives me a visual of who they and who is reaching out for my services. My blog, website and Instagram are used to share my work with them, including what I do at work.

At this time, my strategy is not aimed towards getting a lot of clients. Since I work full time, I keep my online presence to maintain a reputation and, from time to time, find opportunities for assignments.

While we are here…

We are currently taking part in an international photo contest with one of my image! Head to this @Policenationale Instagram post and please like my picture to help us win! – and become part of my audience!

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Please vote for my picture on @policenationale ‘s Instagram account!

 

 

COM0014 – Blog #2: I shoot people for a living, and I brag about it.

 

Following a VIP in Ma’Sum Ghar, Afghanistan, in 2010. Photo by a friend.

I bet the picture with me and a camera de-fused that violent image you initially had in your head. That is the power of images.

It is my job as a photojournalist to tell stories. My story is simple. My assignments as a photographer take me anywhere and everywhere, therefore allowing to share what I experience along the way. I also have other passions like trail running, martial arts and traveling. On my blog, I want to portray myself as an accessible person who likes to share his adventures and challenges, that’s why I write in first person. I try my best to remain positive and prefer experience to opinions.

Covering the RCMP Sunset ceremonies in Ottawa, 2015. Photo by Rick Millette.

Luckily photography is a medium that is easy to share. They tell a story or show something in a way that is a lot easier than having to explain it; hence the cliché quote: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

My intent is not to teach nor speak about the science behind photography, or at least not really in depth. There are plenty of people that do that very well in YouTube already. I try to keep it simple, and just give a bit more details about the photographs. I tell my story, very much like a journal, or a conversation I would have with my friends. It also serves the purpose of building credibility to the people who might be interested in hiring me down the road, allowing them to get to know me better before they make that first contact.

Would you allow me to shoot you now?

 

Documenting the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France. Photo by my boss.

 

True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook

Growing up I had always dreamt of wearing the uniform. Later I developed a passion for photography. Upon graduating college, I scored my ultimate dream job: I was a military photographer.

I had been working up the ranks in the military for about 10 years and my next promotion meant that I would need to move and become a manager. That also meant I would not do what I enjoyed the most in my job anymore; taking pictures. Our family was now well established in Gatineau/Ottawa and we had no desire to move. Conclusion: I had to transition to civilian life and find myself a job. Easier said than done in my field.

Sgt Serge Gouin

Portrait of myself before I retired. Photo credit: DND

I started my process by taking a course offered by the military called “career transition workshop”. They taught us how to build our resume, use our network and how to explore the hidden job market.

Our instructor was fantastic. The one thing he told us that struck me the most was about using our network:

“The biggest mistake people tend to do is hiding that they are looking for a job, by fear of having their current employer finding out or to have opportunities taken away from you by a friend or colleagues also looking out”.

I decided I would give Facebook a try and publish a post with my intentions. I wanted to do it in a manner that would open the discussion, be respectful and most of all would not break the relationship I had with my employer in case I would change my mind or the process would take a while.

Screen Shot Facebook

Screen capture from my Facebook post to activate my network

I was nervous and excited at the same time to reveal this news to the world. It really felt like a coming out.

At first, people were curious and asked questions, which is totally normal. Then about a day later, I received a private message from a friend I had gone to photography school with. I had not seen/talked to for almost 10 years! She was going on maternity leave and said she could get me in touch with her manager to see if I could take over her spot while she was away. Perfect timing! Awesome!

Two interviews and a security clearance process later, I finally retired from the stability of a 20 year contract for a 9 month adventure in a temporary position. I was committed to this transition and even if that was a huge risk on my end, this was the first step in the direction I wanted to be going. A few months later they posted my dream job internally and as a temporary employee, I was allowed to apply for it. I landed my second permanent photographer’s position of my career within the federal government, but this time as a civilian. This meant no more moves or promotion, unless I apply for them, and I would still be taking pictures in a federal government organization.

That was exactly what our teacher had told us. Not all job are posted and this one was definitely hidden. Obviously, there is a lot more than Facebook involved in this process, but to this day I still feel that it was the one thing that made it all work.

Taking a selfie during the North American Leaders' Summit (NALS)

Photo by Chris Roussakis

Since then Facebook now has a job search feature that might help, but the real power of Facebook comes from your network.

What would your dream job be? What kind of risk would you be ready to face to get it?

 

 

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