Advertising Your Photography Business
a lot of the questions that we've been um that I've gotten over the years and in workshops and other things and I'm sure that we kind of led into it with. The last question we answered was about how to break in, like what do you do, what are the things that you can do to start off a career in this particular field? And I said this maybe at the first workshop I ever taught and I said that everyone since, is that small bylines lead to bigger by lines. And that if you understand that your career is pretty much a grassroots effort, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. And then remember the, what we talked about about as soon as that bigger opportunity comes in, you put your head down and you go right at it. So what do I mean by starting small? So every town in America has small publications, magazines, newspapers, hand out flyers, you know, all the things that are, you know part of a community, right? And if you live in a bigger place then the opportunities are probably ...
even bigger because even in new york right, we have smaller local magazines and food kind of publications and things that if you want to break in and learn and if you have some skill that you could get a chance of being hired, but starting small and and looking into the magazines and things that are published in your area, that's really helpful. Um the other thing is that blogging, blogging is a big deal right now and there's a huge audience out there. That is not necessarily always respected by new media, but the reality is that there's lots of people in our field to read them. So if you have an opportunity to show pictures on a website or a blog, um and I'm gonna differentiate between the two because the blog is one thing, because you're probably not gonna get paid to put pictures on a blog unless of course that maybe you can make a little bit of money because you're doing a little bit of a trade with the person. But the reality is that you're probably not gonna make a lot of money on a blog. But if the blog has good traffic, it might be valuable to you because that way you're going to get some exposure because there are two components to becoming um well known in anything right? It's making a living, but it's also becoming well known and sometimes those two things have to balance one another out. You have to understand that compensation isn't just money and we're gonna talk about that a little bit more um, than websites. Now, websites are different than blogs, websites are aimed at selling something. Normally either promoting a business supporting a business or actually physically selling something. So if somebody wants you to work for a website or you know, of a local website that you can kind of or somebody who's running a website that you can get involved in. That might be a really good opportunity to kind of start to cut your teeth in the business is that you can approach a website, show them your portfolio and say, I'd like to work with you guys. I think that you you do, you know, I think I can help you make this look really good or in the inverse, if you're doing a good job at marketing yourself in social media, which we'll talk about a little bit more, somebody might seek you out and if they want you to shoot for their website, which happens to me sto I've just shot pictures for somebody's website. It happened to be again, I I kind of had the opportunity, I'm in this position where I can pick who I want to work with a lot of times and this person approached me and I liked her message and I think she had, the way she was approaching her business was interesting and she had the right pedigree of food that I feel like her business is gonna grow. And I talked to her about um I'm happy to do this for you as an initial rate and something really reasonable, but let's understand each other. If you're gonna build your website, you want visual consistency, which means I want you to hire me. Again, the key to being a good business person is building lasting relationships with repetitive clientele, people who will hire you over and over again when you become part of their workflow and part of their identity, particularly your visuals, then you have established yourself in a position where they're going to probably feel uncomfortable working with somebody else because they know you because they like you because they trust you and you form that part of the relationship. So we got, we talked about local reps that we talked about local publications. We talked about websites, we talked about blogs, um but we also have opportunities in food because food is everywhere, right? Your local market, the farmers market, they're all businesses at the farmer's market. Every single one of them is a business. Every single one of them probably has a website, we have restaurants, chefs, food trucks. All of these places have food in endemic to their business. This is what they do. So the imagery is important if you sit around and look, just look around you when you're outdoors, look at how many things are photographed for food, billboards, menus, all of these things are all being handled by food photographers on some level of another. You know, and depending on your level of skill or your your style or your location, all of these things matter. But the idea is that there are so many opportunities to take pictures of food. It's not just about working for a major magazine or newspaper or an advertising client, you can build a solid business, but doing that stuff even locally and then as you build a local reputation and you're making a living, making money paying your bills, all of a sudden your website gets better, your twitter feed gets more followers and all of this starts to grow. But the idea is that until you understand that you have so many opportunities that it's not really like people are laser focused on the things that are the highest profile in our society when it comes to food. But quite honestly, there's thousands of opportunities to take good pictures of food. And if you are good at presenting yourself and you walk up to that farmer at the market, those gnarly hands, you know, and you think you could take gorgeous pictures of him and hey, and then sometimes you do it on spec, we've done this, we've done this in every business, right? Every business does this. You see an opportunity, you present somebody with what you do, make an offer. Hey, I'd love to photograph you. Do you have a website and take all the things, research, look at people's websites and look at some of how bad some of the photography is right and say I could do better than that. I know I can and then present yourself and sometimes if you know, it's something that has, uh, the following, you know, or a good client base or a lot of business, it's good promotion for you too because then when you list the clients in your, on your website of who you shoot for, you know, the longer that list is nobody reads through all of it. You know if it's joe's restaurant on the corner plus it's the farmers market that everybody's heard of. That starts to add up. So like I said, small bylines whether they are, you know the local market or big bylines their gradual they work together. So when you're talking about social media, you are yourself and you are your business simultaneously. You need to remember that if you want to be a food photographer because if you're posting nonsense and garbage and lots of opinions and things that are polarizing and all of these other things, having lots of personal conversations letting you have to monitor what you're doing, have separate accounts if you want to listen, I want you to be opinionated as as you want to be. That's your right. But if you're a business person remember that people are judging you and if they don't agree with your politics, their money is just as green. Don't forget it now food politics is something different. Okay. We you have to have a standard that you're comfortable with. I do you know, I'm not going to mention who I won't work for but I think you could imagine, okay the reality is that remember how you present yourself in public and now we're more public than ever. It's not just about when you meet somebody, it's not just about how you dress to, how you wear your hair or all these other things, we let we let people into our heads now on social media, we let people know what we think and that's important to note because if you are building a client base, it becomes personal, they want to know who you are and if they don't agree with you or your outspoken or you are maybe too forthcoming over sharing, that's okay, separate venue, create a website, create twitter handle and understand that I'm not in that position at this point in my career, I am me, I have to be me, I can't create a separate entity and everything else. I'm essentially a public figure, so I have to behave like one all the time and I have lots of opinions and I have lots of dirty jokes I want to tell, but I'm not gonna tell him on twitter, so that, you know what I mean, I mean, you know, I probably don't have that many dirty jokes, but the point I'm making is that I have to remember that I'm a public entity as a professional and as a business person and those two things have become entwined and I'm not in a position to pull them apart, but when you're starting out now, when you know better, if I had no one better, I would have done it differently. So attitude attitude is essential in any business place, any workplace anywhere, how you carry yourself is in it may be the most important tool that you have. If you present yourself in a way where you are, where you make it about you in any situation. It doesn't just, this doesn't apply to just photography, but I'll tell you that when you are on a photographic set, there's one goal on a photographic set and that is to make the great picture. And the only person on that set that's responsible for that is the photographer. Which means that everyone else in that room is responsible for making sure he's happy or she's happy, right? That's the goal. The goal is to make sure that that person has everything they need to make great pictures because that his success or her success is your success and they are learning more and you're and that person is going to get more work, which means in turn, you are also. So if you come at this situation where you are about you, what am I getting? What am I doing on a photo set? You're gonna fail. This is a sensitive environment. You see how intense it gets when you start to work. You see where I disappeared yesterday for a couple minutes because I'm focused on what I'm doing and if anything is a distraction to me, I'm annoyed and I'm not happy when I'm annoyed and I'm really grumpy, I do. I I am not fun on set. I'm not I'm not like the way I am when I talk to people and I'm not like the way I am when I'm teaching am direct and I'm gruff and I don't want to be bothered because I go into zone and I work and most photographers are like that and you can mistake that for being a diva. But it's really not. It's about focus and if your attitude as an assistant or whatever is not about that, not about making sure that the everything is working in in order, then that's bad an attitude in general, right? When you're carrying yourself to a client, being flexible, being personable, your language, all of that is about your attitude and the bill and the ability to say yes, it's your work. You want credit for it. Even if three people are looking at that blog, you don't know which three they are. You want them to see it, That's attitude as well. It's about being personable professional proficient. Those are the three things you really need to remember, Personal professional and proficient. And if you could do those three things, you always have the right attitude for work when it starts to become better other stuff. And look, we're human, I have people that work with me every day. Uh huh. I'm having a problem today. I am my kids sick. I don't feel well I didn't sleep last night, whatever, talk to me, I'm a human being, I'll understand that if you're working for somebody who doesn't understand that, don't work for that person. Pretty simple, Life's too short. It is, it's too short to work for jerks. Even if the jerk, you feel like the jerk is going to do something for you, not worth it. It's just not. And at some point you gotta turn, turn around and say, you know what, I respect myself too much to do that because that's what I expect from the people who work for me. I want them to understand that I'm a human being. And so are you talk to me like a person present yourself professionally? Don't make a habit of it, right? Don't abuse the privilege of somebody who will treat you human, right? And we'll work together perfectly. And then when I'm grumpy on the set, you understand that, that's not about you, but that's about me. That's the give and take because then we are people and we're professionals and we both understand the necessity to put those two things aside at certain points and put them together at other points