Sunday, February 16, 2020

How to Land Your First Photography Customer

How to Land Your First Photography Customer

You have the right equipment and an artistic eye. You’ve honed your skills and studied techniques. You’re ready to take your photography hobby to the next level by securing a paying customer. So how do you move your love of photography from past time to full time? If you take a few simple steps to lay the foundation for your photography business, you’ll be earning income in no time.

Build your portfolio

Take a good, hard look at the photos you’ve taken so far. Would you pay for any of them if you hadn’t taken them? You are your own best critic when it comes to building your portfolio. Look at your work with an objective eye and decide which shots are your best.

Next, ask your friends and family to do the same. It may require a bit of thick skin since it’s human nature to love every photo or work of art that we create. It is essential, however, to give your impromptu art critics the freedom, to be honest. As you determine which photos your audience likes best, you should start to see where your strengths lie as a photographer. Are you best at portrait photography? Landscapes? Commercial scenes? Unbiased feedback (from yourself and your friends and family) will help you discover your niche and help you build your best portfolio.

Work for free

Land Your First Photography Customer

The next step in growing your portfolio is to ask friends and family if you can photograph them at no charge. You can also ask non-profit organizations and local events if they could use your services. While your time is certainly valuable, think of this pro bono work as an investment in your future business. Every good photographer starts with a solid body of work to show prospective clients.

Ask for referrals

As you photograph your friends and family, be sure to offer them copies of the photos you take to display in their homes or offices. Often, paid clients are the result of a referral from a friend or family member. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to use on your website or social media page. When your work is high-quality, you build a loyal following, and the resulting snowball effect is the fastest route to paid clients you can find.

Show your work

First Photography Customer

One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your work is to exhibit your photographs at a local art show. Choose a few of your most creative shots that show your personal style and put them on display for prospective clients to see. You may sell a photo or two and you may not. The reward is in the publicity and free marketing for your photography business.

Another outlet is to attend local sporting events or festivals and take photos to post online. Take your business card with you and hand it out to spread the word about where the photos are posted and to pique the interest of paying customers. Offer some photographs for free and make some available for download for a fee. Voila! Your first photography customers.

Shadow a professional

Find an established professional in the style of photography you want to pursue and ask them if you can shadow them. If you want to shoot weddings, find a wedding photographer and volunteer to be a second shooter. If you want to do family portraits, offer to help with lighting. Not only will you learn more about your craft, but your mentor may also give your name to any paying clients they can’t take because of scheduling conflicts or a full calendar.

Invest in your business

When you’re ready to take your photography business to the next level, you’ll need to start investing more time and money in it to ensure its success. Before you start shelling out lots of money, however, search for free websites and services to promote and protect your work. Make sure you watermark your photos to prevent unauthorized downloads and use. Next, concentrate on building an online presence for your portfolio and your business. Look beyond your own website and ask other sites to feature your work. You may need to pay a bit of money upfront for marketing and online advertising, but the brand awareness and credibility for your business will be well worth it in the end.

Just like any other business, professional photography takes time. Be patient while you find your niche, build your portfolio, and collect the references you need to promote your work and secure loyal, paying customers. Above all, stay true to your personal style and have faith in the process.