The Social: Building a Network: Jenny Lewis and Mimi Mollica

Image: Mimi Mollica, Woman with a takeaway sandwich on Kingsland Road, Hackney, Spring 2015. From the series East Up Close

The Social is a regular and lively evening event run by The Photographers’ Gallery that aims to provide practical information for artists and photographers in a social environment. 

Advice given by photographers and industry specialists is intended to support practitioners at all stages of their career, from the newly-graduated to the seasoned professional. At The Social, the audience is encouraged to enjoy a drink and, most of all, socialise. 

On Thursday 27 April 2017, we focussed on the theme of Building a Network, and invited Mimi Mollica and Jenny Lewis to give their perspectives and tips on this topic.

The Social is free to all, with booking essential. 

Building a Network / Creating a community

Advice from photographer Jenny Lewis:

1. You know more people than you think. This is something that evolves naturally with everyone that you meet along the way. Don’t underestimate what you have already achieved.

2. Be strategic but be authentic and focused. Start gathering contacts by using social media to follow and research people you want to network with, Look at magazines, writers, picture editors, curators, galleries and other photographers.

Jenny Lewis, Portrait of artist Simone Ten Hompel, 2016

Jenny Lewis, Portrait of designer Yinka Ilori, 2016

3. Be supportive of others. Supporting, as well as receiving support through a network, is a two-way relationship. Think of your network as collaborative, work together rather than just pushing your own vision or needs. Discussion and learning from others can be valuable and inspiring, and a great break from sitting locked to your computer.

4. Get out there. You can’t beat face-to-face. Be brave, be interested, be present… if you don’t know anyone try going along to things on your own and talking to people. Business cards make it easy to swap details.

5. Be authentic and passionate about your work. Having pride in your work is an attractive quality. People will want to be part of it and help you spread the word.

6. Have fun… It’s hard work and can be isolating so gather some friends along the way. Photography isn’t 9-to-5, it’s a way of life, so you may as well socialise with all these people you have a lot in common with. It’s not only about your work.

Jenny Lewis grew up in Little Clacton, Essex. She moved to Hackney almost 20 years ago. She has made her living as an editorial photographer, but continues to pursue a range of personal work. Much of this centres on her experience of living and working in East London. Alongside One Day Young, which captures mothers within the first 24 hours since having a baby, she has been photographing the network of creatives who live alongside her in the borough. Hackney Studios was published in April 2017 by Hoxton Mini Press.


Mimi Mollica, A man waits for a bus at a vandalised bus stop, Palermo, Spring 2009. From the series Terra Nostra

Building your network

Advice from photographer and co-founder of Offspring Photo Meet Mimi Mollica:

I never wanted to be rich. My ambition is to be together with other people… hoping togetherness will make the world a little better.

1. Be consistent

2. Create, develop and follow your ideas through. This will grant you a trustworthiness, and you’ll be taken seriously in what you do. 

3. Share your vision. If you share similar values within your network, you can only expand its potential and go that extra mile with expectations.

4. Be a resource for others. Building your network means that you must be a resource for someone. Collaboration is at the base of a mutually-beneficial interaction.

Mimi Mollica, Woman with a takeaway sandwich on Kingsland Road, Hackney, Spring 2015. From the series East Up Close

5. Create outcomes. A network must have the scope – the mission – to voice a common goal which can then materialise into a concrete outcome.

6. Connect people together. The more interaction that exists within a network the stronger it will become. Connecting people together serves as a cohesive agent, and offers your peers more and better opportunities to succeed as a group.

7. Be altruistic. Being able to share with others gives you the chance to be kind and be recognised as such, and we all know that what goes around comes around!

Mimi Mollica is an award winning photographer, born in Palermo, Sicily in 1975. His photo essays deal with social issues and topics related to identity, environment, migration and macroscopic human transitions. Mimi chooses to work on long term projects which allow him to research explore and develop a subject in depth. In early 2015 Mimi founded Photo Meet, an organisation aimed at celebrating photography through a series of events, such as Offspring Photo Meet, which includes portfolio reviews, lectures, networking, presentations and much more.


  1. the monkey clomb down a treeI like that preterite form of to climb. ;) Reminds me of German erklimmen, erklomm, erklommen. When did you learn English – 1,500 years ago? <– intended as humor, not as inAlnt.suyway, yes. I also scoured many German and Austrian sources and could not find any reference to G2a4. Of course the fact that Eduard Egarter-Vigl is not a Geneticist may speak for it, in the sense that he could have been naive enough to break the embargo… ;)

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