Skip to main content

Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 6 of 32

Marketing: Social Media Part 2

Gary Hughes

Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

6. Marketing: Social Media Part 2


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:06:47
4 Portrait Client Q&A Duration:14:47
7 Marketing: SEO Duration:18:48
8 Marketing: Networking Duration:11:11

Lesson Info

Marketing: Social Media Part 2

Instagram is unusual in the way that I think that it was almost made for photographers. You can't post on Instagram without a picture, right. You can't just post your thought for the day. In fact a lot of times I look at the pictures and I never read what the person wrote underneath it. Do you know what I mean? Do you do that, you just scroll through? Happens all the time. Like I follow National Geographic on Instagram and they post the most amazing photos and then five paragraphs underneath I'm like, nope, I'm not going to read that. So you have a unique opportunity to define your audience. So who follows you on Instagram? Why are they following you on Instagram? For me specifically, I find that for whatever reason as it's worked out, photographers follow me more on Instagram. I was trying to figure out why don't clients follow me on Instagram? They're not following me, it's only a bunch of other photographers and I realized because a lot of what I'm posting is really interesting to p...

hotographers. And I'm also using hashtags that only photographers will look for. Do you think your client is going to search photography as a hashtag? No, but what if your client is a realtor? Are they going to post or look for hashtags that say real estate or realtor or Orlando realtor, where I'm from, or anything like that. You have to figure out who your audience is and how to get them there. And the one thing that I know about Instagram is that holy crap hashtags actually work. Like they seem like such a ubiquitous thing. They've become this really weird, pervasive oddity in society where it has an actual technical function and in addition to that, it also has a weird, sort of like pop culture referential thing. It's almost a postscript on a sentence. Like #whatever, and now we use it in conversation, you know? Like #seeyoulater or whatever, #hashbrowns, I don't know. What it really is is it's a marker by which to create search criteria. That's all it really is. So if you're a hair and makeup artist and you go on Instagram and you wanna see other work by great hair and makeup artists, you're gonna search for hashtag and you're gonna type HUMA or HMUA, hair and makeup artist or whatever it is that you're looking for and Instagram will pop up and it will show you what the most popular hashtags similar to the one you started to type and then you punch that and then it goes and you see, oh man, she's really good, bam, follow. That's how basically it works and power users of Instagram are searching hashtags all the time. So if you define your audience for Instagram and then you're using hashtags for the people that you actually want to work for. I find also that there's kind of an age barrier. It's really weird to say that young people aren't using Facebook 'cause I still consider myself a young people. But for the most part, every time a form of social media gets really popular, the young people migrate to whatever the next thing is and so if you're trying to market to high school seniors and you're trying to market to moms with new babies who are in their 20s and 30s, you might not be able to find as many of those on Facebook. You might find them more on Instagram, and now Instagram is less cool now 'cause I was photographing one time, I was doing some volume sports work for a volleyball club and one of the girls was taking a picture of me taking a picture of one of her teammates and I turned over and said oh, you gonna post that on Facebook? She goes, psh, my mom's on Facebook. It's crazy to think about, you know? But that's how fast this stuff happens. So I found that Instagram is a really great way to connect with a slightly different demographic. I find a lot of young professionals, a lot of creatives and people in the visual arts. You're gonna have a hard time, I think, finding your accountants and attorneys on social media sometimes in general because they typically steer clear of social media a lot of times. You know anybody who's a lawyer and they post like once a month on their Facebook page or their Instagram? 'Cause they know, they do cases all the time where it's like somebody said that they were somewhere or their wife's divorcing them and then there's a picture of them with another girl on a beach at the same time. They're like, you shouldn't have posted that on social media. That's why lawyers don't use it as much. But with Instagram I will tell you that it's important to use those hashtags. It seems like such a trivial thing and it really is annoying when somebody's posting and they hashtag every single thing that's in the picture and there's like 40 hashtags, but it actually works. It can bring you followers. I find that for the professional world that only certain types of clients, style brand type of people, other small business owners, and real estate agents, stuff like that, they're all on Instagram. It's like look at this listing and look at this thing and you can find those people in your area. So use hashtags to search out people in your area that are active on Instagram and return the follow. Follow somebody relevant and let them follow you back and create a sort of long term trust. These are how you get people into your life and into your circle and your business. Everything when it comes to marketing, even social media marketing, if you go into it looking for a really quick solution and a really quick, bam, in and out and sort of email blast kind of marketing, you're gonna kinda fail in that way, I think. People like authenticity more than anything else. There's so much stuff online and so much in your face all the time that when something's authentic and it's good it really stands out and you can't really fake that. So use your Instagram as a way to show, at least for me, a little bit of behind the scenes that we're human. That we have a studio, that we go on vacation, that we have a kid, stuff like that. People relate to you a lot more with stuff like that. If you're just posting pretty pictures all the time, nobody really cares, does that make sense? The other thing I would say that with Instagram you wanna post everyday. The most successful people are two, three times a day and I would say that's about as much as you really wanna post. Do you ever see anybody that every once in a while they go on Instagram and post five or six things in a row and your whole feed is that one person? You're like, get out of my feed! What do you want? Well, that is annoying, not consistent, and there are methods, Hootsuite and others, by which you can schedule your posts out. This is the thing that has revolutionized our marketing in my business. Every Friday, Julie and I sit down and we schedule out our marketing, emailing, social media, Facebook, the whole nine yards, we sit and we decide what we're gonna market for the next two weeks. I cannot tell you enough, sitting down and creating an active plan for your marketing and for each of your marketing platforms, how much that will come back to you when you actually concentrate on it. As much as we are in a creative business because we like to create, we're in a creative business and you can use these things, as annoying as they can be. They're not gonna be annoying anymore when you start making them work for you and they actually bring business into your studio. The most important thing you could do is be consistent. If you stop posting, if you stop creating content, if you stop being interesting, you're gonna lose business. You're gonna lose a lot of potential business. So be consistent and whatever works for you, make sure that you're doing that on a regular basis. Start by doing this, post once a day on Instagram, once a day on your Facebook page. That you can do, and even now on your Facebook page, you can schedule two weeks' worth of posts in a sitting, up to two weeks out, which is pretty cool. Alright, also personal touches, I find, Instagram is the place where we do it. It's a lot of behind the scenes in my studio, it's a lot of behind the scenes at shoots, a lot of pictures of, it's the laziest thing I do is a picture of my coffee mug and my computer screen, like I'm retouching images today. Whatever, just post something and show a little bit of who you are, but when we go on vacation, I try not to post too much of my family. I don't really like posting pictures a lot of my daughter and my wife and stuff, but when we travel, I take interesting travel pictures and I post those and every once in a while I'll throw in a little family selfie or something and what's crazy is that you'll find that you'll get like three times as many likes on a picture, a selfie picture of you and your kids as you will with the most beautiful portrait that you'll ever post on there 'cause people really like that personal connection. It makes a lot more sense when you think of it in terms of people on social media, people think that it's a way to be disconnected, but in reality what we really want is more connection and when something's authentic, when something's personal, it can be a lot more successful for you as a social media platform. How and why did you choose Instagram as your behind the scenes place and Facebook as your finished product place? I think that's a great question. One, because, why did we choose Instagram? Because Instagram has to have pictures and you can't really post, it's based on what those social media platforms can do. I'll write an article for our blog. It'll be like, the top five hair and makeup tips for your portrait session or for your professional portrait or for your headshot or whatever, and I will post that article and I will post a link to that article on my Facebook page with a cool picture and the whole nine yards. Driving traffic with Instagram, you can't really put a link to anything unless you change the link in your profile picture and that's kind of a pain in the butt 'cause then you're like, okay, check the link in my profile to hop on over to here, and that can be effective but not nearly as effective of just being able to post a dang link on your page. And so because you have to post a photo with every Instagram post it makes sense that that would be the thing and it's also from your phone, only from your phone. So you've always got that camera with you in your hand so it just sort of naturally fits that way. I think it's a really good fit to sort of make that your behind the scenes voice and you would be amazed about how many people will come into your studio or into your home studio or you'll go to their business and they will tell you what they've seen of yours on social media. It happens to me all the time. And they'll say, oh my gosh, I just saw that you got back from Seattle, that looks so cool. Looked like you had a great time. I don't post pictures of too much of my personal life, but I will like, here's us in front of the waterfall and stuff like that every once in a while. But it just is more conducive to behind the scenes than Facebook, page will do that too, but I find that Instagram's a little more personal if that makes sense. It's a little strip down, it's a little easier to get into and engage personally where Facebook feels very more corporate and business-y, don't you think? So you would suggest for those of us who do multiple genres to just have one Instagram for all the different genres or to specialize? That's an excellent question, okay. So if you have weddings and babies and you do professional portraits and you have a commercial business and whatever else that you do, you have to decide what you can manage, again. I think that it's very possible to have one if you're using Instagram as sort of a behind the scenes thing. I think it's very possible to have one that will cover multiple genres. That's kind of like what we do. I, first of all, don't have time to manage multiple, but I know many people, Instagram just recently changed it so that you can switch between profiles very easily in the app, so it wouldn't be that difficult. I would probably end up posting the wrong thing on the wrong page and if you create enough content, if you're busy enough and have the time to post on those everyday, I don't think how that could hurt, but I feel like it'd be better to concentrate your audience into one unless you have something really, really different, like we talked about before. If you have a business that does school and sports photography and then you have a high end portrait business over here, I think those would definitely need to be two different things. But again, if you don't have the time to dedicate to that form of social media, don't do it. Just do the things that you can actually fit into your day. And if you have the budget for it, you can hire companies that will run your social media for you and it's not unreasonable. I think you can do as little as a hundred bucks a week and you could get somebody to be running your social media and let me tell you, if you've got a consistent social media presence and somebody running that marketing for you, a hundred bucks a week will pay for itself many, many times over, good? Okay. Boom, other forms of social media we can talk about. Twitter, I have yet to sort of find a business use for this. I feel like if you're a stand up comedian or a politician or a celebrity Twitter's really, really good for you, but it's one of those forms of social media where it's like I don't have the time to pay attention to it, so I don't really work it, if that makes sense. But I find that it can be a really good business to business platform if you work it, but it's one of those things where I have focused on these other forms of social media. I find that it's fairly limiting. Part of it, I like it because you have to say it in 140 characters, but the other thing is you can link better on Twitter than you can on Instagram, which is kind of cool. I think they're similar enough, but I like that Instagram is based around photography rather than text. Adding images to Twitter is almost secondary compared to coming up with something pithy to say that people are gonna laugh at. But you can use it, I just don't use it as much. Snapchat is fantastic and it's relatively new. It's only a couple years old. If you are the type of person that really loves to be on social media and you have your phone with you all the time, I have just seen, I've seen so many great people and businesses doing this, to show your story throughout the day. A lot of people, especially photographers who run small businesses, don't have that much interesting stuff to fill a whole day with, so I think it's very similar now, especially Instagram's added stories, I think that it's a very similar platform and I would almost feel like you could work one or the other and you might not need to do both. I feel like you'd be taking up a lot of time. You'd basically be posting a lot of the same stuff on both of them, if that makes sense. But it works very much the same way and I would think that it's a pretty good alternative if you like it better than Instagram. Tumblr has been around for kind of a long time and now it's just sort of become oddly popular. It's kind of like a microblog, but again, I put this in the same category as these are one of the things that I'm not using effectively but Tumblr's almost a lot more like Twitter in that aspect. I would focus on dividing your social media categories into the type of what's the most conducive for that platform. Is it based on a lot of short videos and images? Are you telling a story? Is it based on text mostly? Is it based on photos? Can I post links on it? Divide them into those categories and then decide on which one's better for you. I would say that the best social media platform is the one where you already have the biggest following. It's a lot easier to grow a following that you've already started than it is to start something completely new and build it from the ground up. Now that being said, you can hire marketing and PR companies that will do this stuff for you. They'll say, how many followers do you want? You say, I want 50,000. They'll say, okay, that'll be 10 grand. We'll take care of it for you. So if you got that, throw that down, but it might not be relevant, it might not be authentic. You really want to have an authentic audience that's mostly local to you that are actually in danger of spending money in your business. The amount of followers you have is not as relevant as the amount of people that could actually end up in your business. Does that make sense, okay cool. Back to Instagram, they just released that new business account, do you have that? Or do you have it still on the personal? Yeah, again, that's new, so I haven't even gotten into that stuff yet. The great thing about social media platforms is that they understand how authenticity works. Anytime they change anything, everybody gets pissed off. Rabble, rabble, rabble, rabble, rabble. What'd you do to my Facebook feed, Facebook? And then a week later, everybody's used to it and there's no big deal. So they're constantly trying to change things for the better. Because we're so used to social media, because we're so used to the Internet now, they don't create something new, typically, unless they feel like they're solving a problem for you. So when they changed Facebook pages, remember, it was a couple years ago, they changed it so your reach got really reduced and you couldn't reach as many people? What they were doing is they were making you have to work a little harder and be better at social media to reach more people. They're also trying to sell you more of their boosting and their advertising, but at the same time, that's a great deal. Five bucks to reach 5,000 people, that's the cheapest advertising you'll ever get. You have to kind of look at it from both sides. So I haven't looked at it yet, but I'm telling you that you'll probably have some advantages. It might turn out that I'm wrong and it's a big, huge, stinking turd but we'll find out together later on. But right now I'm just working the one, I haven't integrated the business yet into my Instagram. So do you do anything on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is terrific for your business headshot professional portrait people. You're gonna find that every single person in business has a LinkedIn and a very small percentage of those people are actually using it a lot. So identifying the clients that use it a lot and that are power users of LinkedIn is a really important thing before you start getting involved in it. You can really do well with it, but it becomes a digital networking group. I find that all those same people are using other forms of social media as well, so I have a LinkedIn, I use it, I post all our articles and stuff on there, but in 10 years I cannot tell you one thing I've ever actually has turned into money for me from LinkedIn. And mostly people on LinkedIn that I'm friends with are photographers, which is, what a waste of time. I don't wanna market to other photographers on LinkedIn. I wanna market to people that are actually gonna come in and pay for my work. Okay, so we have a couple of questions from the interwebs. Let me put those up there. Lauren Lang says, "90% of my clients are coming to me "for LinkedIn photos right now. "How do you market through social media for this platform?" I don't think you have to market specifically for LinkedIn. I think that people will come in for a headshot, will come in for a professional portrait intending to use it for LinkedIn. It's almost like saying you're getting a picture for LinkedIn is, it's like the business terminology for covering all forms of social media. They're gonna use this on LinkedIn profile, whether or not they actually use it to do anything, I don't know. But it will also be their Facebook profile picture. They'll also put it on their Instagram. They'll also use it on their business cards. So I don't necessarily market specifically for LinkedIn. I think if you have a place on your website, I would definitely mention LinkedIn in your marketing materials, things that you could use it for. You can do that and also dating websites are killer. People who come in for professional headshots will wanna use it for that, so anything you can use to make your product more attractive would be fine. But I don't do anything specifically to market to LinkedIn. People come in and will use it for a LinkedIn among a hundred other things that they use it for. Another question from the interweb. Ah, Tina Sahakian, what's the best time of day to post on, sorry, Tina, if I butchered that. "What's the best time of day to post on "Instagram or Facebook?" I think that completely depends on where you live and the type of business that you're in and who you market to. If your main business is babies, you might be marketing to a lot of parents who stay at home and maybe they're doing stuff early in the morning, late in the morning. If you're marketing to professional people, when do people get online and check their stuff? I think that probably at the end of their lunch break is a pretty good time, around 12:45 p.m. is a really good power time. But it really is gonna depend on what business you're marketing to and what age group you're marketing to. I would ask the Google machine because you'll find it on Forbes, you'll find it on Wired, you'll find it on Engadget. Every single tech blog and company and business magazine has articles on this. Find the most recent research because it shifts overtime. It used to be that the best time to send out an email blast was Monday at 8:45 a.m. and now since everybody shifted over to that, everybody's got a crapload of junk mail in their inbox on Monday morning, do you not? And so now it's like Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. is a really good time. Most people have cleared out all their junk out of their inbox from the week and they're comin' back from lunch and they sit down or they get on their phone and they check their social media and they check their email and stuff like that. So really, really depends, because we're recording this for posterity, I don't wanna say anything specific for today because it could be different in three months, in three years. But you need to Google the most recent articles. There are thousands of them on that very subject. I typically work in the middle of the day around, I find, late morning, early afternoon is our sweet spot right at the moment to post. If you post and you're marketing to business people and you're posting at seven o'clock at night, that's probably not super smart, right? So you know, in business hours, around lunch time, I find is our sweet spot.

Class Description


Professional portraits go beyond the standard headshot. With the age of social networking upon us, businesses often have the need for environmental and editorial portraits. Not only will you understand individual portraits, but you will also learn to execute large group posing for corporate clients. By adding these to your client sessions, you can add to your business plan AND widen your target client outreach. 



Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.