10 Quick Tips for Photographing Fireworks!

Happy fourth of July! 

Here are top 10 quick tips for photographing fireworks:

  1. Arrive early to find a good spot.

  2. Use a tripod and remote shutter release.

  3. Use a small aperture between f/5.6-5/16 (f/8 is usually good).

  4. Use a slow shutter speed. Between 5 to 10 seconds is good.  You can also use bulb setting.

  5. Set your ISO to around 100 or 200

  6. Make sure you flash is turned off.

  7. Focus your lens ahead of time.

  8. Shoot most of your shots at the beginning of the show. As it progresses there will be more smoke in the air and the sky won’t look as clear. 

  9. Shoot wide.  Make sure you have enough room in the frame to get the full bursts of the fireworks. 

  10. Take some test shots. 


3 Ways to Earn Extra Income for Your Photography Business During the Holidays

Earn Extra Income in your photography business for the holidays

Simple but effective ways for photographers to earn an additional income over the holiday season.

The holiday season is an exciting time. People are in a festive mood and on the hunt for gifts for their friends and loved ones.

This can be an especially lucrative time for photographers and the perfect time to start spreading the word about your services as you move into the New Year.

As we approach the end of the year, you might find that your traditional photography business slows down a bit. This means that you’ll need to thinking of other ways to supplement your income. Below are three ideas to get you started:

Santa Photo Sessions

Every year, thousands of children line up to have their picture taken with Santa, making this the perfect opportunity for photographers. Click here to find out more about earning an income by offering Santa photo sessions.

Teach Photography

There are loads of budding photographers out there that would love to learn from a professional so why not use this opportunity to earn an extra income over the holiday period? You could have a Kids Photo Camp over the holiday break with the Kids Basic Photography Curriculum.  Or you could offer a FREE photography class on how to take candid family Christmas photos... bring in the students as a way to get them thru the doors of your studio and then offer them a special deal on family portraits.  Want more tips for teaching? Read this article for tips on how to start teaching photography.

Offer Gift Cards

Photos are in every home and people love adding to their collection of memories. Now is the perfect time to start marketing and selling photography gift cards that can be used in the New Year. Click here to find out more about creating and selling photography gift cards.


3 Mistakes Photographers Make with their Mini Sessions

1) Not Limiting their Mini Sessions

Keep the sessions short (approx. 15-20 minutes per client). Make sure you are clear about how many photos are offered and everything that is included in the session. Limit the frequency of your mini sessions; once or twice a year is ideal. Remember, the goal is to get the clients to sign up for full sessions- not to encourage them to wait for mini sessions, which can be viewed as a sale in their minds. You want your mini sessions to give a sampling of your amazing photos, and not the ONLY photography service your clients enlist you for.

2) Not Promoting Mini Sessions

Spread the word with an online graphic that provides all the details. Share on Instagram with relevant hashtags (such as the city you live in, #minisessions #portraitphotography, #photographyspecial, and the type of session, such as #backtoschool and #schoolportraits, etc. Share on Facebook, and consider posting a boosted ad there as well. You can choose your target audience by age, gender, and area, which can be very helpful. Make sure to tag friends and family in your social media promotions, and ask them to share posts and help spread the word!

3) Not Upselling 

One of the main objectives in hosting mini photo sessions is to gain new customers who will book you for full-price photography services. There are several things you can do to increase your chances of turning mini session clients into loyal customers. One thing you can do is design and print a coupon for a special discount or offer pertaining to your full-price photo sessions. Highlight on the coupon that this special is just for new mini session clients, so that they feel like they are a part of a very exclusive offer. Another way to promote your full-price services is to have a beautiful studio welcome guide on hand, featuring your portfolio, list of photography services, and content that convinces the potential client that working with you is a win/win situation. 

5 Tips from the Pros on Starting a Photography Business

Today we have a guest blog post from Zenfolio. They have beautiful websites and client galleries for any genre of photography business. You can create a beautiful website in minutes and manage your site from your mobile device.  They even have a shopping cart and partner with the leading print labs.  Today they will be sharing with us 5 tips about starting a photography business. 

You’re restless in your office cubicle, or maybe the number of friends’ compliments on your photos is increasing, or perhaps you’re just ready to dive in and do what you love for a living. Before you start your own photography business, you’ll need to do some serious research and planning. Here, five Zenfolio Pro Team members share their words of wisdom on what you should take note of before taking the plunge. 

Being a full or part-time photographer means more than clicking the shutter. You are running a moneymaking business, and it’s important to be financially wise and put together a business plan so you can set goals. Several Pro Team members agreed: It’s definitely more business than photography.

“Take as much interest in the business side of things,” says music and commercial photographer Martin Hobby.  “So many businesses don’t have a business plan, but without one you are wandering around in the dark. How do you know what you should be charging if you have no idea how much you need to earn to survive each month?” He recommends starting with a piece of paper, and asking yourself:

  1. How much do you need to earn to cover all your basic living expenses each year?
  2. How much is your basic business overhead? (Add up all your equipment costs, insurance costs, advertising, office rent, etc.)
  3. Add these two figures together
  4. Divide by the number of jobs you think you will do a year: this gives you the minimum you must charge per job to cover your basic lifestyle.

There are a lot of factors that go into starting a business that go beyond your vision. “Research general requirements in your area, such as licenses, taxes and insurance requirements,” says music and pet photographer Amiee Stubbs. “You should also research the competition! It’s surprising to me how many people start a photography business with little awareness of what is already being offered in the market.” 

Erica Peerenboom, senior portrait and boudoir photographer, says it’s best to seek professional help. “Check with your state about the requirements and permits needed to start a business. If possible, I recommend having a professional help you set everything up. I did this, and I didn’t want anything left out that I could later get in trouble for, especially with taxes!”

“The photography business is one of the few professions where clients look at your actual work and not your resume first,” says sports and nature photographer, David Liam Kyle. Your website is everything these days: your billboard advertisement, your storefront, your portfolio and blog. Make sure your site not only beautifully showcases your work but also helps get you more clients and increase sales. “Zenfolio is my modern-day portfolio. I can refer clients to specific links and private client folders that they can view and download images from in a professional manner. This also gives them the opportunity to see more of my other photography while they are at my website.”

“Zenfolio is a huge time-saver: it’s so easy to use that I don’t have to devote much time to creating a fantastic-looking website,” says Amiee. “I stay so busy that I don’t have time for in-person sales, so it allows my clients to purchase directly through the site.”

And lastly: “What is that old saying? You only get one chance to make a first impression…” says Erica.

What’s the cheapest and easiest way to get your work out there? Using Facebook and Instagram to grow your following. Olympic photographer Jeff Cable has more than 40K fans on Facebook alone and gains new followers by posting live action Olympic shots during the season. “Social media is critical these days,” he says.

Some photographers, such as Jeff, use social media to communicate with other photographers; others use it to gain more clients; and others use it to showcase their personal lives. “I am different than many other photographers, because my social media is aimed more at photographers than potential clients. I teach photography all over the world and have a following from that.”

Martin lets his personality shine through not only on website but on social media as well. “The lines are blurred between me and my business. I don’t want to come across as too slick and corporate. I would sooner be regarded as slightly used, battered and eccentric,” he says.

Just because it’s your photography doesn’t mean you need to run the show alone. It can be wise to enlist the help of friends and family when starting out, and down the line even hiring an accountant, manager or team members to help keep you organized and sane. (Plus, how many creative people enjoy doing the booking and numbers?)

Help from a spouse is common among the Pro Team: Martin, Amiee and David all have spouses who help run their businesses.

“My business is run by my wife, Dawn, who is my boss,” says Martin. “She’s rock solid and handles all the admin and bookkeeping stuff that I absolutely hate. She’ll be taking over all the social media side once our little boy starts school.”

Martin also uses a freelance retoucher for editing jobs, and has started working with a marketing agency to rebrand his website.

“A good accountant is also a must, they will save you more money than you pay them.”

Ready to take the plunge? Get started on developing your professional website today with Zenfolio, and check out the great marketing and selling tools that Magazine Mama has to get your business off the ground.


25 Ways to Get More Photography Clients for $25 or Less

Creative ways to effectively market your photography services.

You’ve followed your passion for photography and started your own business but how do you get your name and photos in front of the right audience?

Marketing your photography services need not be expensive and time consuming. All you need are a few clever ideas to get the market talking. Below are some photography marketing ideas to get you started on your business journey.

  1. A few brownies go a long way. We have found that sending out treats such as brownies to planners or vendors has secured us a number of weddings because we were kept top of mind. Spending $20 - $25 on a box of brownies in return for potential business worth $2 500 makes it well worth the expense. At the same time you’re also building a relationship with these vendors, which is a great way to potentially be considered for future projects and events. Don’t worry if you’ve recently missed photography marketing opportunities such as this because there is still a chance to send out year end and holiday gifts. Tell the vendor how much you enjoyed working with them or simply wish them a prosperous new year. If you are looking for real convenience, companies such as greetabl.com send out little gifts with hand written notes for that personal touch.
  1. Send out handwritten notes. If you have recently worked with a venue, vendor or client, send them a hand written note after the event to thank them for their business.
  1. Take advantage of samples. Make a list of venues you would potentially like to work with and create sample photo books for them to keep on the premises. Ensure that your logo, website address and contact details can easily be seen by potential clients. When considering venues, ensure that you enjoy working with the vendors and that the clients would be able to afford your photography services. Refresh your photo books every 6 – 9 months to keep them looking professional and to ensure that they aren’t placed at the bottom of a pile of similar books. Showcasing your work at venues is like social media marketing, you need to regularly update your material to stay top of mind. Another clever idea is to place a few canvases at relevant stores. Bridal stores being an example.
  1. Networking is key. Building relationships with vendors and other photographers will increase the possibility of new opportunities. The law of reciprocity works wonders here. By referring vendors and creating strong relationships with them you are keeping yourself top of mind and this increases your chances of being referred by them too. If you are referring someone to a client, CC them in the email and speak to their strengths. This is not only gives your brand a positive boost but it’s also helpful in emergency situations.
  1. Set up a referral list. Make a list of 2 – 3 vendors in various categories that you enjoyed working with and tell them you would love to include them on your referral list. Place this list on your website so that potential clients know who you prefer to work with. Rather not ask for anything in return as they may or may not want to reciprocate. 
  1. Reward client referrals. Another great photography marketing idea is to setup a referral program for your clients that let them advertise for you. Offer a discount, free prints or a free album when they refer family or friends to you. Pay attention in your consultation to find out what they would potentially like to purchase but cannot afford. For example, if they refer two clients that book with you they get a free album. That album might cost you $500 to produce but two weddings could bring you $5 000 in return.
  1. Give out printed proofs. In an age where digital reigns supreme, it’s nice to actually have printed photos around the house. Print out proofs for clients that have your brand on them that they can give to family and friends.
  1. Use photography marketing cards. A great way to use this at weddings is to create business cards by printing the couple’s engagement session and display these cards at the wedding (Check out the Magazine Mama Shop to purchase these). This way you are helping the bride out because their family and friends won’t need to ask for prints. Guests can simply take their card and refer to the online gallery. Keep in mind that the bride probably has a number of friends who are engaged and going to get married so this is a great way to get new sales. These cards will help you capture email addresses for future marketing purposes because whether it’s a wedding, a family shoot or head shots, everyone needs professional photography services at some stage. Another great opportunity is if you shoot to sell at a wedding. Take photos of people dancing with their dates, you’d be surprised at how popular these photos are. Some brides will even use these as favors on the tables. You can use moo.com/uk to print these cards and have a variety of shots on each card, almost like a trading card.
  1. Become a guest blogger. Find a few blogs or websites that have large amounts of content and offer to be a guest author for them. This may come in handy if they’re out of town and need someone to fill in for them. This is also a way to showcase your expertise and market your photography services.

Blog planner for photographer

  1. Blog about others. Jot down the names of a few leading industry experts and interview them. Send them a link to the interview that they can share on their platforms. Instant marketing for your business and brand. Just be sure that they work in an industry that would be relevant to your services.
  1. Create a focus group. Find a group of individuals who make up your target audience and perform your own market research. Find out about their needs and at the same time get feedback on your own offering and photography marketing material.
  1. Setup a styled photoshoot. Contact some of your favorite vendors and offer a free photoshoot. Provide the vendors with the edited files for use in their marketing. You can also use the photos to create a hard cover sample album that they can show potential clients. Be sure to clearly display your branding and contact details.
  1. Create a co-op photography marketing piece. Design a postcard, flyer, brochure or magazine insert that features some of the photos from your vendor shoots.
  1. E-mail Marketing. Get your customers to sign up for a weekly newsletter. A great way to collect email addresses is to offer something for free in exchange for their details. Research has shown that sending out newsletters on a Tuesday morning is very effective. Use pop up boxes on your website to make visitors aware of your newsletter. Try Pippity or Optin Monster for this. Offer visitors valuable content to keep them coming back.
  1. Social media advertising. Boost a few social media posts to get your content and brand in front of the right audience. The social media advertising model is great in the sense that you can limit how much you spend each day. Facebook also has a great feature that allows you to create a look-alike audience by using the names and emails of clients you usually market to.
  1. Print Business cards. The beauty of printing business cards is that you can carry them with you everywhere you go. If you happen to exchange cards with someone, jot down a few notes about them so that you can connect with them on a more personal level when you do contact them. If you have some additional budget you can also consider printing two different types of business cards. One with your branding and general contact details and another with a specific special offer on it. Websites such as moo.com allows you to print on both sides of your business card. Use one side for your logo and contact details and the other side for your photos. This could be senior, wedding or even newborn photos. Business cards are also an easy way to drive more traffic to your website.
  1. Use every day situations. If you happen to be at the checkout in a store and they ask you whether you want your receipt printed or emailed to you, opt for both. By using your business email you can potentially spark a conversation about your photography services. You never know who might be getting married or wants to learn more about photography themselves. This gives you the chance to sell them your services or tell them about an upcoming course that you’ll be hosting. Remember to have your business card ready to hand over.
  1. Volunteer for non-profits. This is also related to reciprocity in the sense that because you are doing something for free and helping someone else, they will more than likely want to help you in return. This is a great way to get your name out there. For example, if you’re a pet photographer, offer to volunteer at your local animal shelter and take pictures for their website or at their fundraising events.
  1. Conduct a survey. There are various ways for you to use a survey to improve your business. One way is to use an exit survey that clients can fill out after they have used your services. Another way is to use a survey to perform actual market research. Present potential clients with a survey before they actually book you or even meet with you. In exchange for completing the survey, send them something like a $5 Starbucks gift card or you can enter them into a draw to win a gift card worth a higher amount. If you are dealing with a specific audience such as brides, make the gift card for a store or event that they would really be interested in. Once you have your prize figured out you can craft your survey and fill it with three of your key selling points.

 One of the platforms that I highly recommend is Survey Monkey. For example, one of your questions might be:

Your Studio Photography includes high resolution files in their packages. How important are these digital files to you?

  • Somewhat Important
  • Very Important
  • Not Important At All

You want to keep your questions brief and easy. If you stick with multiple choice questions, that is usually the best approach. If you are a wedding photographer ask them to provide you with their wedding date and find out whether they have booked a photographer as yet. It might also be helpful for them to indicate the budget range they have available for their wedding photography so that you know whether this is a potential lead or not.

Thank them for their time and for taking the survey. Let them know when the prize draw will be taking place and how the winners will be announced and contacted. You might also want to include a yes or no box asking them whether they would like to be contacted about a consultation.

   20.  Rent a studio. By renting a studio space or a meeting room in a nice office     building you can professionally meet with your clients and avoid any distractions such as those you would find in your local coffee shop. It is well worth the investment and there is also the option to share a rented space with other suppliers or photographers if you want to cut costs. A proper studio space also gives you the opportunity to properly present and sell your photography services.

  1. Offer free shoots. Offer to do a free shoot for a venue or event. Don’t charge them to begin with as this will get your foot in the door and it gives you the opportunity to upsell them at a later stage.
  1. Try out Groupon. This tends to be quite a controversial photography marketing idea as a number of photographers say it makes your business look cheap. However, if you are just starting out and want to build up your portfolio, it might be a good option to look into. If you do decide to go ahead with Groupon you should make it a limited offer so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Limit it to a certain time period or even to specific areas. Make sure you set an expiry date.

You’ll want to keep a calendar and sign-up sheet in order to keep track of bookings and to avoid double bookings. It’s also a good idea to let clients know that there are no refunds or chances to reschedule if they don’t make it to their appointment. Be specific about being paid for time only and that any additional purchases are separate. It’s also highly recommended that you give the client a time limit for the shoot as well as how many people are included. If they want additional people to be included then rather charge an additional fee. Set aside specific dates and times to deal with Groupon clients so that you can spend the rest of your time on your other clients.

  1. Giveaway gift cards. Allowing clients to purchase photography gift cards is a great marketing idea for photographers, especially during the holiday season. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, approximately 81% of adults in America will purchase one gift card during the holidays if not more. Gift cards let clients take advantage of a special offer now while still having the flexibility to schedule their photoshoot at a less busy time of the year. Below are 5 ways to use gift cards in your photography marketing plan:
  • Offer a special on gift card purchases. Buy One, Get One Free or even Buy Two, Get One Free are examples of potential offers. Customers give the gift of photography to someone else and are still rewarded with a gift for themselves
  • Offer kickback incentives. Provide a client with a certain amount of credit for every ‘x’ amount purchased in gift cards for others. This will vary based on your business model but perhaps $10 for every $100 or $50 for every $200 spent etc…
  • Include charitable giving with gift card purchases. Everyone loves it when their purchase helps a good cause. Find a cause that is dear to you and let your clients know that you will be donating a certain percentage of their gift card purchase amount to your chosen charity
  • Offer discount incentives. For example, purchase a $350 gift card for only $250
  • Give away gift cards for free. Surprise your best clients by sending them a gift card for a free session. You can then upsell them at a later stage. Or send them a gift card for $50 off a purchase of $200 or more. Again, the amounts you use will depend on your business and the cost of your packages and products. 

Print your gift cards on quality paper and present them in beautiful packaging. Include details such as the gift card amount, expiration date and any relevant disclaimers.

  1. Get published. Another marketing opportunity for photographers is to use a service such as twobrightlights.com to submit your photos. Ensure that the photos you submit are in line with what the magazine features. Also, don’t send photographs that the publisher doesn’t ask for and definitely don’t include a watermark on your images. The magazine’s demographic should also match your own. 
  1. Run a contest. Use a company such as heyo.com or www.rafflecopter.com to collect email addresses. Have the contest run for around 7 days and keep the mechanics as simple as possible. They should only have to provide their name and email in order to sign up. Send the participants an email update that tells them when the winner will be announced. Once the winner is announced you could even send all participants a thank you email, which includes a coupon code that they can use to claim a discount on their next photo session. Remember to include an expiration date as motivation for them to sign up sooner.




How to Set Prices in Your Photography Business

How to Set the Prices for Your Photography Business

I see a number of photographers struggling with the creation of photography price lists. If you want to see your photography business thrive, your pricing needs to be a top priority. Pricing can either keep you in business or put you out of it really quickly.

Below are a few tips that you can implement as you develop your own price list:

  1. Don’t price yourself too low. Don’t be afraid to charge what you think your skills are worth. It’s always better to have slightly higher prices so that if you do end up negotiating with a client, it’s easier to come down in price and offer a discount. Always leave some wiggle room. By being able to offer a discount, you make people feel as if they’re getting a good deal. I’ve found that this is especially true with brides. If you make them feel like they’ve managed to secure a good deal, they’re more likely to book with you.
  1. Don’t overcomplicate things. As you develop your offerings, keep things as simple as possible. Too many options can confuse your clients. For example, only showcase your three most popular print sizes and let them know that there are other sizes available if they want to see more options. The same goes with weddings, just list your top three packages. People will most always choose the middle package so keep this in mind when you create your business plan. You can always give your clients the option to add on extras and upsell them. 
  1. Analyze your pricing vs the work involved. Take the time to understand exactly what you’re being paid for. For example, if you’re shooting an 8 hour wedding for $2,000, you might think that you’re making $250 per hour but have you factored in the time it took you to make the sale, the money you spent on advertising, your travel costs and the time it takes you to edit and deliver the final product?
  1. Your prices need to grow with your business. Your prices should change as your business grows. The more clients you take on, the more experience you gain. As your business grows, your time will also become more valuable to those who really want to work with you so make sure you adjust your prices accordingly.
  1. Keep your costs of running a business in mind. This is that I think a lot of photographers don’t consider. You need to take into consideration the cost of your equipment, insurance, vehicle and costs of goods sold. There’s also the money you spend on entertaining clients, buying appropriate clothing for your meetings, shoots, marketing and advertising, and costs of any classes you take to further your education.

Meet the Nine-Year Old Photo Whizz

Photos with Madison

(photo courtesy Photos with Madison.com) 

Madison Harrison is proof that you’re never too young to learn photography. She's a budding young photographer who loves to take photos of children, is only nine years old.

Along with the work that she’s done for several private clients, Madison has also shot three weddings and has even photographed the President of the United States!

Madison first discovered her love for cameras at her third birthday party and made the bold decision to start a photography business just before she turned 7. Since then she has also successfully hosted a dress drive for 20 girls who live in a child caring facility. She got the local community to donate dresses for the girls so that she could have a photo session for them at her studio. Madison combined her passion for photography with her love for helping others, and has since become a household name in her community.

This young entrepreneur is proof that a child is never too young to discover the joy of photography.

Photography is a beautiful way to get your child to indulge their creative side and build some confidence at the same time. It’s a skill that can be developed as your child grows and it’s so simple to start teaching them the basics. There’s no need to make your child’s first experience with photography a technical one. Start with the basics and get them to grow their skills through photo projects that can be turned into fun games. Ask your child to look for and photograph objects of a certain color or objects that start with a certain letter of the alphabet. Help them analyze their photos by pointing out what they did right and what they could improve on.  You might even want to go to the zoo on a Photo Safari.  This is something Madison did.  She hosted a Zoo Photo Safari at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo and 26 people came... 15 of those were children.  

A lot of parents also tend to shy away from teaching their children photography because they're not sure how to go about choosing a camera or where to start in terms of teaching their child the basics of photography.  If you're looking for a curriculum you can check out the curriculum I used to teach my own daughter photography.  It's the Basic Digital Photography Curriculum for Kids. 

And who knows, your child’s love for photography might just turn into a fruitful career someday if not a wonderful, life-long hobby.

To find out more about Madison Harrison visit Photos with Madison

How to Find Clients as a New Photographer

How to Find Clients as a New Photographer

Once you decide to start a photography business there are a variety of ways to find new customers. Not all of these methods involve spending money but I see a lot of photographers not including marketing and advertising in their budgets when they should be. Not all of these methods work for everyone either as your genre of photography, your market, where you live and your personality all play a role.

Remember that opening a store or launching a business or website doesn’t mean that clients are just going to start coming to you. You’re going to have to make an effort to get to them, especially in the beginning stages. Hopefully the below ideas will give you a good start.

One thing to keep top of mind while reading this post is your client avatar or an idea of who your ideal client is. If you don’t know who your ideal client is, I recommend you start there first. Going after just any client is going to lead to frustration later on because they won’t be your ideal client.

  • Advertise on Facebook. I hear so many photographers rant about the fact that no one sees their posts or photos but they aren’t willing to pay for people to see their images. When you’re in business, advertising needs to form a part of your budget. Facebook is a great platform because you can target a very specific audience, which ensures that you’re putting your images in front of the right people.
  • Advertise in magazines. This works really well for wedding photography. It’s actually how I got started in my wedding photography business. After working on building my portfolio, I took out an ad in one of our state wedding magazines. If you decide to go this route, I have a few tips for you. Make sure that the ad package you purchase offers access to a lead list because having a lone ad in a magazine is not going to get you all the business you need. It may barely bring you enough business to pay your advertising costs.
  • Get published. There are many magazines and blogs that you can approach to publish your work. One quick and easy way to do this is to submit your photos via Two Bright Lights or contact the publishers directly. Getting published is especially great if it’s in a prestigious magazine or blog. If you do get published, make sure that you share it on your blog and also use the published images in your advertising and marketing as many people will recognize the images from the publications. If you want a few more tips and tricks on getting published, check out my post here.  
  • Attend trade shows. This is a great option if you’re an outgoing person who loves to talk to others because trade shows require you to engage with people. If you’re more of an introvert, I wouldn’t recommend this as an avenue for finding new clients. On a side note, if you’re paying to advertise in a magazine that will be distributed at a trade show, you might want to focus your marketing efforts elsewhere as your brand will already have a presence at the show. It’s an added bonus if the magazine collects names and emails at the tradeshow that are then distributed to advertisers. Think of all the time this will save you. It’s like having your own marketing assistant. 
  • Network with other vendors – good old fashioned networking. If you’re an outgoing person, go round to your local vendors and introduce yourself. Make it brief and be sure to leave a few business cards. If you’re more of an introvert, you may want to stick to sending a brief email. I do think that in-person networking is more effective because they can put a face to your name. Another way to network with other vendors is to get on their social media pages and start commenting and engaging with their posts. You can also choose to attend networking events in your area.
  • Facebook Live. I think this one’s really effective. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen a lot of photographers use this to get clients and to be honest, I haven’t even tried it myself yet, but I think it’s a great way to connect with prospective customers. You can use Facebook Live to talk about how you prepare for a photoshoot or have a Q&A session. You could even go live at one of your photoshoots and let people see you in action. Tell them to follow you to see the finished images from the session they just watched.
  • Offer amazing customer service. Give each customer great service and soon you’ll be getting more business than you know what to do with. This approach might take a while since you’ll only have a few clients to begin with but use that extra time to give them an amazing experience in order to get the word-of-mouth ball rolling.
  • Get new clients from current clients. Offer referral incentives. This could be anything from credits towards an album or canvas to a free photo session. You could even develop a rewards system or a frequent customer punch card. Get creative with it and maybe offer something like the 5th photo session for free. This will not only encourage them to refer friends but keep them coming back too.


Blog planner for photographers


How to Build Your Portfolio When Starting out as a Photographer

How to Build Your Portfolio When Starting out as a Photographer

One hurdle that every new photographer faces is how to build a portfolio. You can’t bring in new clients if you don’t have photos to show them.

I sometimes see new photographers using stock images in their welcome guides because they don’t have any images of their own to use, and while I understand that the effort is sincere, this is not something you should necessarily be doing.

For example, what if a potential client asks where a photo was taken or they request that a similar photo be taken for them. Would you be able to deliver? Your portfolio is one of your biggest assets as a photographer and is essentially the product that you’re selling. If you were in a store, your portfolio would be your physical products but since you’re selling a service, your potential customers will be looking at your portfolio when deciding whether to hire you or not.

Your portfolio is of course not the only thing that affects a client’s decision to hire you but it can make a huge difference. When a prospect visits your website, your portfolio is what creates a first impression and could mean the difference between a client contacting you or not. It’s also something that can help you attract your ideal customers.

Now that we’ve established just how important your portfolio is, let’s look at some ways to start building one. Building a portfolio is not a difficult task but it does require some proper attention.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Start with what you already have. Using friends and family to build your portfolio is an ideal way to get started, only if they represent your ideal target audience that is. The type of photography that you’ll be marketing will also play a role. For example, when I first started out as a wedding photographer and was meeting with potential clients, I didn’t have any images to show them. The only examples that I had of my work were a few shots that I took during my internship at a newspaper, which was clearly not going to resonate with them. I had to make use of the resources I already had. I got my daughter to put on a cute flower girl dress and pose for some shots. I also used my own wedding rings for some detail shots.
  1. Shoot for free. Before you get upset about the thought of working for free, keep in mind that I said “shoot for free”, not give them everything for free. This is an approach that a lot of new photographers take when starting out. Tell the people that you’re willing to give your time for free and that the images will be available for purchase afterwards. After the shoot, be sure to schedule an in-person sales session so that you can sell, sell, sell. If you need tips on how to have a successful in-person sales session click here. Taking this approach is like having an opt-in trip wire in your business. Think about the restaurants that have specials that let kids eat for free. It’s a way to get customers through the door and chances are, the parents will end up ordering too.

As a side note, I often see a lot of wedding photographers say they’ll get a request from a dream client to shoot a destination wedding and because they want this in their portfolio, they’ll offer to do it for free. Personally, I don’t think that this is a good idea, because the couple may take you for granted and you’ll probably end up regretting it later. A better approach would be to find out what’s most important to the couple such as having a big, beautiful album, and offering that to them for free instead, on the condition that they book you. You could even offer to waive the travel costs for the wedding or you’ll shoot their wedding if they pay your travel expenses. This way they’re at least still paying you something. After the shoot, the usual upsell then applies. If a couple has only paid for your travel expenses, don’t include prints or albums in the final agreement, rather have them pay for these after the event.

  1. Hire models. If you’re going to go this route, I wouldn’t recommend using websites where models exchange time for prints, they’re usually not that professional. Rather approach a professional modelling agency and look through their portfolio in order to find someone who fits in with your target audience. There is no need to pay for an entire day of work either. If the model is truly professional, they’ll already know how to pose, and will possibly also do their own hair and makeup, which saves you time and money. If you’re going to go to the effort of hiring a pro model though, I would make sure that their hair, makeup & clothing will be professionally styled too. The money you invest will come back to you many times over if you do this right. Ensure that the model has a few different changes of clothing available and that you have the option to shoot in a few different locations. These photos are great for your online portfolio but you should also look at using them as sample canvases, in your ads and on social media.
  1. Attend a workshop. If you’re starting out as a professional photographer, chances are you’re going to be attending a few workshops in order to improve your skills. A photographer never stops learning. Workshops are also amazing for networking so choose your workshops wisely. Choose workshops that include a shootout or a model photo session but make sure that you ask ahead of time whether you’ll be able to use these images in your portfolio, or submit them for publication in magazines to make it worth your while. Some photographers might argue that if they use these images in their portfolio, people will see similar images on other photographer sites and know they’re from a workshop. My answer to this is that it doesn’t matter because it shows that you’re honing your photography skills and that you’re capable of taking good shots. If you’re still concerned, try and attend workshops outside your immediate area. For example, here in Arizona we have two workshops, The Amberguys and Amy and Jordan.
  1. Run a contest or model search. I’ve seen a number of senior photographers use this technique when searching for senior reps but you can use this in pretty much any genre. Make it fun and market the fact that you’re having a model search. People could submit photos and a brief paragraph on why they want to model for your photography business. If you want them to answer more specific questions then you can always give them a form to fill out. Don’t forget to ask them for their contact details too. Another great approach is to run a targeted Facebook ad that will reach your ideal customer. Target specific areas, places and interests. You might also want to use a client avatar so that you know what type of person you want to market to. Once you have chosen a winner, send out an email to all entrants, announcing the winners. You can also offer all entrants a discount coupon for their next photo shoot with you. This way you’ll benefit from upselling the winner so that you can cover your Facebook advertising costs and you’ll have a list of potential clients you can market to in the future. It’s important to create some hype about the contest on all your social media platforms and also promote the winner in order to attract new customers.
  1. Have a cop-op or styled shoot. Make this a win-win for everything. Reach out to vendors that compliment your business and have everyone donate something that relates to their business. For example, if you’re a child or baby photographer, reach out to a local children’s boutique store and ask them to donate a few items of clothing for the children to model in. A salon could donate some time to style the kids hair and you could even approach a resort about using their venue as a shoot location. After the shoot, you’ll have some great images for your portfolio but you’ll also have made some great connections for future shoots and marketing. When using the images, make sure that you credit and tag all of the businesses that were involved. You could even put a cute welcome guide together for your business and only include the images from that shoot along with some info on all the vendors involved. Give a few copies to the relevant businesses to display in their stores in order to upscale your marketing efforts.

 Bonus Tip: One thing you’ll want to do for all the above is have everyone fill out a model release form stating that you have their permission to use their images in your portfolio. If it’s a regularly paying client this release should already be built into your contract.

3 Simple Ways Photographers Can Increase Their Bottom Line

When photographers think upselling, albums, prints and canvases are the usual things that come to mind. I’d like to offer you three different upselling options which cost little to no money at all.  

Sell warranties

Think about all the times you’ve been at the checkout at a store, and you’re offered a warranty for the product you’re buying.

I was recently in Walmart and the guy in front of me was purchasing a crockpot that probably didn’t cost more than $30 but the cashier asked him whether he wanted to buy a warranty for $8.95. Most people probably wouldn’t buy a warranty for something like that but when they’re making a much bigger purchase, they probably would.

Think about cell phones, how many of you purchase warranties for your cell phones? You might be wondering how to sell a warranty as a photographer. Let’s start with albums, wedding albums in particular. If a customer is willing to pay $1,000+ for a wedding album, a warranty would make total sense. Some companies such as McKenna Pro already include warranties on certain albums so you can simply transfer their warranty specifications to your customer’s warranty. If you’re offering warranties I recommend adding a small percentage to your costs to replace the album. It’s not likely that they’re going to use their warranty, but this way if they do end up needing a replacement album, it won’t cost you anything.

Offer a membership rewards program

This could be as simple as offering them a membership for a certain price and then offering them a discount on their prints or something similar. What you’re selling doesn’t cost you anything as you get 100% of the profits. You might be saying that 10% of your costs are your print prices and while that might be true, if you’re selling a membership for $200 and a customer gets 10% off their prints, they would have to purchase $2,000 worth of prints before it even started to affect your profits. And let’s be honest, how many of you wouldn’t pay $200 for a $2,000 order? Plus, once they pay for a membership program, they’ll be more likely to make more purchases so that their fees don’t go to waste.  

Offer upgrades

Here is a good example of an upgrade: Let’s say for example your session fees are based on hourly rates, you could offer customers the option of adding hours as an upgrade to their package. This is great for senior sessions, family portraits and even wedding photography packages. You could even offer your hourly upgrades at a discounted rate. The catch is that these special rates are only made available at the time of booking.  And if they want to add on more hours of service later it would come at a higher price. I used to do this for my wedding photography packages. I would include the upgrade info in the contract and go over it with them making sure they understand that if they added more hours on later it would be at a higher price. One reason I did this was because when I was shooting weddings I had to get a babysitter for my daughter and I had to factor those costs in ahead of time.

Additional upgrades that you could offer could be for different types of paper. Or, if you offer albums, you could offer to engrave names on the album at an additional cost. Editing and design revisions can also come in at an extra cost.

How to Teach PHotography

What are your thoughts? Does this give you a few ideas on how you can start upselling as a photographer? Do you have any other ideas for upselling or increasing your bottom line in your photography business? I'd love to hear from you!   



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