I don't know much about the professional landscape in Illinois but I know a little bit about the physical landscape in the area of Columbia, SC. You come from a great place to take photographs!
I was born and raised in Pennsyltucky but I lived in Greensboro, NC for a couple of years. I did lots of traveling through the Great Smokies. My wife's brother lives near Columbia. I got married at Biltmore. (Asheville, NC) We honeymooned at the Moravian village in Old Salem. (Winston-Salem, NC) We returned home by way of a scenic drive up through Mount Airy, NC and visited the top of Pilot Mountain (AKA: "Mount Pilot" to all you Andy Griffith fans. )
If you have some good photos from the area where you live and work, now, you should be able to use them to promote your business in your new surroundings. Even though I can't give advice on making contacts in Illinois I can say that it might be a benefit for you to "play up" the fact that you come from such a visually rich and historically significant part of the country. Most of the battlefields of both the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War are located within a day's drive from where you hail. (Guilford Courthouse National Battleground and Appomattox, VA, for example.)
It might help you get a couple of bonus points with the people that you meet.
Besides, us dumba$$ Yanks are suckers for the hospitible Southern attitude!