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How to Make It As a Freelance Photographer

As told by Koji Arboleda.
How to Make It As a Freelance Photographer
As told by Koji Arboleda.

Photographers need no introduction. Their careful eyes are the pillars of fashion in becoming both an art form and a global commodity. They're the ones who take on the challenge of showing the soul in every piece of clothing without the need for words, something so underestimated yet one of the most difficult endeavors a creative can venture into.

IMAGE Courtesy of Koji Arboleda


Meet Koji Arboleda, a 24-year-old who has been a professional photographer for only two years. And yet, his knack for clean, cinematic fashion images has quickly made him one of Preview's trusted lenskeepers. His images are well-loved by both the biggest names in fashion and the young people who have the same story as he does–struggling creatives who will soon change the world. Hence, through a lengthy Facebook chat session with him, we found out how he reached this point in his young career, and gathered the useful advice he has for the rest of fashion's up and coming fresh blood.

1. Have a firm yet malleable vision.

A good fashion image should come from a healthy collaboration among the creatives behind it. Getting on everyone's good side is not worth losing your vision for. "It's about being open to ideas, but also pushing for your own ideas," Koji stresses. "Absorb what people say, but you still need to push for what you believe in."

IMAGE Koji Arboleda for Preview


2. Your work shouldn't only be beautiful.

Koji admits to being a frustrated writer, but after giving it a try he figured that he delivers messages more effectively through visuals. He attributes this knack for stories to his Film degree from the University of the Philippines, from which he says he learned that an image's quality shouldn't end on its beauty. The story, emotion, humor, and research (read: the hugot) that goes into a beautiful image should matter as much to a photographer than how pretty their image looks.


IMAGE Koji Arboleda


3. Be honest with yourself.

There will be times wherein your ego will fight you and affect your work, but being a creative means more than creating something perfect. If something isn't working, learn to let go and accept it. Strive for something better instead of pushing for it until everything falls apart. In Koji's words, "try to make things work without trying too hard."

4. Never be comfortable. Continuously develop your craft.

Always switch things up and don't let yourself get stuck in a cycle that'll drive you away from your passion. Koji himself confesses to being afraid of feeling "comfortable," so he doesn't let himself develop a formula when shooting. This is because he feels that developing a routine is the easiest way to fall out of love with your passion, and no matter how successful you are, that's something you always need to keep an eye on.

IMAGE Koji Arboleda


5. Stop whining. Do your best with what you have now.

"I really believe that if you do what you can, kaya mo talaga. So stop complaining and start acting," says Koji. That's why it should be a priority for every new photographer to do one thing and one thing only: "Practice. You hear this a lot, pero it's true. Learn from your mistakes and do better."

Every new endeavor would most likely be a difficult one, but success won't find you if all you make is noise. Take all the chances you haven't yet and work hard. You might surprise yourself.


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