About three years ago, I was noticing a new trend in photography, that of photo collectives, like Luceo, MJR, Prime, and Razón that were making their way onto my various news feeds through social media. I thought it was quite clever how they used their collective social networks to share the work of their various members in a way that didn’t seem pompous or overly self-promotional as it can often seem when when an individual ‘toots their own horn’ and continuously posts only their work on their personal accounts. It was then I thought, ‘why not create a similar resource for all freelancers like myself? I’ll call it “The Photo Brigade.”

It all started on Facebook where I began sharing links to great blog posts from many freelance bloggers with anyone who was interested in following our feed. Rather quickly we had over 1000 followers, at which point I felt it was time to turn Photo Brigade into an actual blog. Fortunately, over my short career I’ve become acquainted with many amazing photographers who also thought it would be a great way to get extra eyes on their recent work and agreed to participate in this concept. With the help of my super-talented, graphic designer wife Laia Prats, we built the blog and thus The Photo Brigade was born.

We live in an age where a vast majority of photo editors, image buyers, and art directors use both social media and general google searches to find the content they’re looking for, so it’s incredibly important for photographers these days to keep their work online and searchable so that they and their work can be easily found. One of the best ways for photographers to be found organically on on the web is to have their websites search engine optimized (SEO). One of the best ways to make that happen is by blogging. All that text that is written within a blog is crawled by search engines like Google, resulting in higher placement in web searches.

Blogging isn’t easy. It’s a labor of love. In fact, both Scott and Brad can attest it’s taken me many months to finally get my ass to write this very post, which I’m typing on a flight to Barcelona. I’ve run my own personal blog for years and there’s been some months when I was very regular with my posts and some months when I’d neglect it altogether. I’d noticed the same trend among my many peers and also noticed many talented individuals who didn’t blog at all, which I felt was a great disservice to them. My inspiration in starting The Photo Brigade was to not only share and promote the amazing work of my peers, but also to encourage and inspire my fellow freelancers to get their ass in gear and hop on the blogging bandwagon.

Since I graduated college I’ve only ever been a freelancer. Among many other responsibilities, that means I’ve had to purchase my own gear, worry where my next paycheck would come from, think about health/gear insurance, my retirement plan, deal with tons of administrative work, and most importantly promote myself by getting my name out for the world to see. So in building The Photo Brigade, I wanted to turn it into resource that I personally would love to use. There were many websites I used for inspiration, such as Sports Shooter where I got my first social exposure through their message boards in the days before Facebook.

Beyond all the stellar work I’ve seen and the amazing photographers, editors, and industry professionals I’ve connected with through The Photo Brigade, what I love most is the ability the blog has to adapt and grow. While we started simply featuring blog posts, we’ve since begun working with a long list of contributors to create great content like product reviews, contests, gear guides, guest posts, and other various industry-related content on the business of photography. Some of those contributors are personal friends of mine and many are those who’ve reached out expressing a desire to be part of what we’re doing, which has been the ultimate driving force behind our desire to continue this labor of love.

I’m excited to see where things go in the coming year. Along with cool contests and great features in the works as usual, we’re also working hard to expand our columns to take a deeper look into the photo industry all in hopes to become an even greater resource for working professionals and enthusiasts alike.

It’s important to mention The Photo Brigade wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of my wife, Laia, who spends many hours/day scouring the web and editing blog posts, tweaking the design, and putting up with me. Additionally, that of our sponsors who have helped us in many ways by supporting us, providing awesome gear for reviews and prizes for our contests. To our contributors who have guest blogged and provided material for us to share, we tip our hats and give great thanks. Most importantly, thanks to you, our readers, who regularly visit our site, follow our social networks, and/or participate in any way by liking/sharing/commenting on our Facebook posts, tweets, and so on. The more we see your interaction, the more we know what we’re doing is useful and good.

If you’re interested in being part of The Photo Brigade in some capacity; guest blogging, being featured, or simply just visiting to enjoy our content, I hope you would send me an email, bookmark us, and follow us on your favorite social platform. Can’t wait to see your work and interact with you all moving forward.

Thanks Scott for the opportunity to guest post on your awesome blog and share our community with yours!

You can see Robert’s work at RobertCaplin.com and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and check out The Photo Brigade