Finding Photo Clients Has Always Been One of the Hardest Things to Do

Finding clients has always been one of the hardest things to do. In fact, I have an entire course on it. And no, I am not going to send you that URL, I am not going to try to sell it to you. I will give you a sort of outline here to build upon to get clients in your area.

Tip #1. Define Your Work With Your Portfolio

  • Make sure it is up to snuff and ready to go. I believe in the 32 – 40 image rule of thumb.
  • Make sure you show what YOU want to show.
  • Never ask yourself what “they” want to see because there is no ‘they’… only individuals.

Tip #2. Have a Clean Website

Have a super clean and easy-to-see website with big photos. If you are a coder, use WordPress. If not, use Squarespace or Format.

Tip #3. Identify Your Channels

Identify your channels. For example, who uses food photography?

  • Restaurants
  • Restaurant supply companies
  • Health practitioners
  • Nutritionists
  • Cooks (cookbooks/blogs)
  • Food Wholesalers
  • Magazines
  • Graphic Designers

(We’ll leave ad agencies out for now because you need more experience before hitting them up.)

Tip #4. Identify the Players

Within each channel, you then identify the players in your area.

  • Google Maps, 20-mile radius.
  • Google “Graphic Designers” and review each one.
  • Do they use photography?
  • Do they have clients in your niche? (Not a big deal if they don’t, but check anyway)

Tip #5. Add Contact Info to Your ‘List’

Build an Email campaign to your list.

Build a direct mail campaign to the list as well. Overnight Prints can help you with postcards that are very inexpensive and very short run. Drop by with a different postcard to meet them and introduce yourself.

Tip #6. Develop a Strong List of Buyers

You are looking to develop a strong list of potential buyers in the range of 250 to 300 names.

To do this you will have to choose carefully and be picky at some point, dropping off those who are uninterested at all (which we can measure from opens on the email) and replace them with those who DO open the email and click through.

Do this with each channel you identify for your business.

Remind them of your other skills (e.g. you are a food stylist) as well… talk that up a lot.

A few ideas I have for my consulting clients:

  • Take every gig. Do it for whatever they are paying no matter what (unless you do not come out ahead).
  • Initiate gigs: Be proactive. If there is a local restaurant that is struggling, offer to help them with a few images.
  • Their success is a big boost to your success as well.
  • Play up every asset you have gained. You are a food stylist, chef, art director, creative consultant, and advisor as well as just a photographer. USE those to present a more complete package. Clients will be looking to get maximum bang for their bucks.

In closing I have a few other observations to share:

AD’s are looking at strobed work a lot now since there are simply millions of ‘natural light’ shooters. Strobes provide shadows, consistency, and repeatability. This is important for ads, not so much for editorial, but the ‘look’ is different. And sometimes different is distinctively an advantage.

Seek magazines to work for… free or not. Shooting for a magazine is a great way to build confidence in yourself and your clients. Magazines are far easier to break into than ad agencies.

Motion. MOTION MOTION MOTION: From video clips to cinemagraphs to stop motion. It is very important to incorporate motion into your work.NOTE: I am not saying make videos, I am talking about 3-8 second clips. Along with some cinemagraphs and stop-motion.

When you put a title to what you do, consider that you do a lot more than just make photographs. (e.g. PHOTOGRAPHER | FOOD STYLIST | ART DIRECTOR)

I hope this helps you get started and I wish you great luck.

P.S. I hope you are a member of my newsletter.

About the author: Don Giannatti is a photographer, photography business coach, designer, and writer who has never owned a Subaru or an Escalade. He once owned a PT Cruiser, but that it a long and tortured story not fit for telling without a few beers. He lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, and prefers Mexican food to anything else. In fact, there may not be anything else. You can visit his website here and his online portfolio here

Image credits: Header photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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