Influence and Networking w/Ben Kao


Influence and Networking

w/Ben Kao

If a tree falls down in the forest, but nobody hears it, does it make a sound?  I say maybe, but who cares.  If you create a masterpiece in your basement that nobody sees, is it still a masterpiece?  Maybe, but who cares?

It has been said a million times in a million different ways:

"Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations." - Dale Nightingale
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn
"The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits." - Dan Buettner
"The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own."  - Matthew Kelly

The point is:  You are your surroundings.  This is why networking is vital for artists.  

How Do I Network?

1) Social Media

As a photographer I primarily use Instagram.  It's super easy to find other photographers in my area.  If I find an artist whose work I like.  I'll just send them a DM and ask if they wanna go shoot sometime.  It doesn't get much easier than that.

Another way to use social media for networking is by offering to do stuff for people.  Find a gap that you think your work can fill.  For example, if you make music then ask video producers if they'd like to use your song.  If you draw then ask a model if you can draw them.  The options are endless.  Think about how you can bring value to the other person.  And yes, you can expect to do all of this FOR FREE.  What more important things were you going to do anyway?  Watch Netflix?  Get high?  You're a nobody at this point so you need to prove yourself before thinking you have leverage to ask for pay.  Check out this video from Gary Vee on how to crush it on IG.  

2) Word of Mouth

If friends and coworkers know what you do, chances are they'll know somebody else who does it too.  It's only a matter of time before they mention it.  Take advantage of these opportunities when they arise.  Ask to be introduced to that person.  

3) Organically

Sometimes the universe just throws stuff into your lap.  The question is whether you're open to receive it.  As a young artist I tended to be standoffish when meeting other photographers.  I don't know why, but I just had a lone wolf attitude.  In short, I was a dick.  Be friendly and open and you might be surprised what or who you encounter.   

The 3rd method is how I met Ben Kao.  We met 2 years ago while I was shooting by myself in Taipei.  He was just starting out in photography.  I was in lone wolf mode while he was branching out and making new friends within his hobby.  Luckily that day I was open to meeting somebody new.  

Knowing Ben Kao has elevated my work significantly.  Like me he is fearless about going nearly anywhere to get a great shot.  He's a boss when it comes to editing.  Most importantly, he surrounds himself with great people.  He's always going to Instagram meetups and meeting new photographers.  He knows all the ins and outs of Instagram and how to get featured.  Here's his work on some of the most popular feeds:

A post shared by HYPEBEAST (@hypebeast) on

Recently Ben and I hit up some rooftops in Taipei.  He has been in LA for a year, so I took him up to a couple of my new favorite spots.  


Zhongzhen District


It's always a good time shooting with Ben.  Like I said, our friendship has elevated my work and pushed me to try new things to keep improving as a photographer.  I promise that you too will improve at whatever it is you do if you make an effort to surround yourself with great people.

Ben and I may influence each other, but we still remain divided among brands.  He's a Canon shooter and I'm on Nikon.  You can see his full list of gear below!  

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