That’s an interesting dilemma Jaci. Being a photographer your situation will be different since you’re going to be required, most of the time, to be on-site with your client to complete the job. Whereas I do most of my work completely remotely, with only the occasional in-person meeting, which makes it easier to be flexible about where I’m located.
Of course your ideal situation would be to find really local clients that don’t require you to travel back into the city, but depending on what kind of work you specialise in there may not be enough demand for it. The advantage of gaining a local reputation for location clients is that you have far less competition, and it’s easier to become know as the best “go to” person in your area.
As a newbie in town, I would make an extra effort to get out and meet people. Go to those awkward networking events that everyone hates. Join local facebook groups and meetups, and inject yourself into community discussions as much as you can. It’s important you do this in a helpful way, and don’t come across as if you’re just advertising all the time. Offer people advice. Offer to work on collaborative projects. Get your name out there and establish relationships with as many people as you can in your own industry as well as potential clients. Those relationships won’t pay off immediately but over the next few years you may be surprised at how much work starts trickling in.
If you have no choice but to rely on the big city for work, I hope you’re prepared for the constant commuting. I’d dread that, but you may not have a choice when your work requires being present on-site and the only clients you can find are in larger population centres. Hopefully you can find a balance between getting come work locally and some in the city.