How to Launch a Photography Business



Lesson Info

Friends & Family Test Shoots

Okay, let's start with friends, family, and your first brand ambassadors. I'm gonna show you some of the examples of purposeful shoots. Purposeful test shoots is one of the best uses of your time. This is why. You get one stone, you get a lot of birds. You get your practice, it's low pressure, you fit your target market, right, you fit people that are engaged. And guess what? You grab your friends or family's friends or friends of friends of friends, anybody, who are engaged, and you take them out to do a shoot, and you deliver them five great images. They're gonna post it. They're gonna share it, correct? Now, if they are of the age group that's engaged and getting married, or if they are of the persona that you're after, when they post it, it's going to go out to like-minded people who are also in their network. That's what we're looking to create. We're looking to get practice, low pressure, but to also make sure that the images we're creating are being utilized in the networks that...

we're looking to market to. So they fit the target network, age, friends, and then we're going to invite these people to become brand ambassadors. Which you don't do, if you sucked it up. Don't go and, like, take crappy pictures and be like I did a really bad job, will you be my brand ambassador, though? And you're not going to ask them to be your brand ambassador, but we're going to talk about what they are, 'cause on your side, you'll record them as brand ambassadors. Go deliver a few great images, we're going to keep them as brand ambassadors. So my early test shoots, no pressure. You've seen these images. Beautiful. I don't know why he'd want to jump off of that, that's really not them. (audience laughs) But it's fine. Don't worry about it. Okay, early test shoots. Again, do they fight with umbrellas on their own? No. It's just like we saw these umbrellas and it was cool, so we're gonna fight. There's a concrete texture over this, in case you're wondering how to get to this beautiful look. More recent test shoots. These are my kids. 'kay (laughs) so I love working them into my presentations. But I will take my kids out all the time. So when we were starting Line and Roots, I had six months worth of my own kids that I take out for these shoots all the time, to start plugging into the Instagram machine and the Pinterest side, and to our blog and to getting the party started. And they're my own kids. And guess what? Your own kids can look very very different in different clothes, so there's a lot of opportunity just within your own family for that kind of stuff. This was a friend of mine, who, we ran a giveaway or a contest. They ended up somehow winning it, I didn't choose the winner, they just were randomly selected. They're getting married, and so we went out and did this shoot, and then they turned around and hired us to they won this contest and they turned around and hired us to do their wedding. Interesting. This was actually, we're going to talk about giveaways, and contests, we have a full lead generation, this is a great thing to talk about. One of the 16 downloadables in this course, is a lead generation workbook. This thing we sell for $100 on it's own. But again, we include it in this because it's a big piece of what you guys are going to be doing. Where you're going to create a contest and a giveaway to get people talking about your brand, constantly. We've done this multiple times in our business and 40% to 50% of the time, the person that wins, well first, we generally select people to win that are engaged. It's again, it's a giveaway. If you say it's a randomized winner, then it needs to be a randomized winner. But if you don't say it's a randomized winner, you just pick one. Pick one that fits what your target market is. So then the person that wins, ends up getting this free shoot, and then almost half of the time that we've done this, that person or that couple has hired us back to do the wedding. So we've not only gotten thousands of people talking about the business in the process of doing the giveaway, we then got the booking. That's very very powerful. And we'll talk about that process here. So that's one of the wider environmental portraits from this shoot. This is like my, the closest thing that I have to a little sister, Olivia. She was getting married, and obviously her dream is, I want my older brother to shoot this, and I want to do this. And I'm not even going to have a conversation with her about pricing, and so, I just said Look, we're going to shoot what I want to shoot, we're gonna go to the places that I want to go, and I'll shoot it all, but you need to be willing to let me use the materials for education, for whatever I'd like, for marketing, for all this kind of stuff. Okay, fine, no problem. So we do it, and we use this, (speaks quickly) that all of us do, we took them to places that I wanted to go shoot, like Vasquez Rocks. Okay, and then I took them to another spot. Then we started marketing to Vasquez Rocks, through SEO and content marketing. And then we get more shoots of people that want to go to that place. Is that making sense? Of how we can turn these into, and it's gonna come through content marketing, but we're creating the content first for it. This is them again. I did two separate sessions with them. One was like a whimsical session, where they kind of dressed up like this and most of the shots from this session are very filmic, 'cause I wanted to test out a set of looks that I was generating for another client, who was a big wedding and they wanted a filmic look. So I was like, Oh I'll just do a test shoot with this session and kind of go for that look and see how close I can get to it. Same thing. This was actually used in Incredible Engagements on the next slide. Incredible Engagements, one of our courses here on CreativeLive. (laughs) On SLR Lounge. On CreativeLive, we demonstrated lighting techniques. For example, when you're in a pinch, how many of you have seen Incredible Engagements? This is great! You don't count! You hosted it. How do you think this image was shot? How do you think it was lit? (audience members respond) A light? What kind? A speed light? (audience member responds) Video light? Available light? Well the one on the left side is available light, for sure. This is a lighting 201 thing that we teach, and we taught it in Incredible Engagements, where, if you're in a pinch, you can do a lot with just your i-phone. (audience member laughs) So this goes, like, I wanted to throw this in here because it's like, we say lighting 101, lighting 201, all this kind of stuff, like the basics, but man, there is so much you can do with those basics. Like, create a great set of images. One that's dramatic, one that's light and airy. It's the same exact moment, 30 seconds apart. Another one of my clients, these two, Mike and Natalie, they are SLR Lounge Premium Members. They come in and they go, we want to hire you to shoot our wedding. It's gonna be out in Cancun. And they said, we understand that it's going to be expensive, can you work with us a little bit on this? And it always helps, by the way, when your clients butter you up a little bit, right? When they, like, butter you up and you're like, okay. So I said to them, look, we'll work on the package. And they still paid a really good amount in getting us out there, but I said you're going to give me a test shoot day, where I get a day to take you guys around in Cancun, and do whatever the heck I want, in your wedding dress, in your regular attire, for my own sake, for my own marketing education. They said okay. So we go around and we create images throughout the city. This is off the side of a freeway. This is inside of a cave. Which, they're covering the costs of all this. So not only do they pay, they might get a collection rate that most people wouldn't get, but then I get these opportunities to create images that I wouldn't normally get the chance to create. And what happens from each of these, is that after I show it, I get the clients that want to pay for that. Does that make sense? But until you actually show that you've done something like that, nobody has the idea of actually doing it. Our test shoots have lead us into our commercial work, which is where we do our commercial fitness work. It's lead into all this stuff. So the walk away objectives of each of these, is to check as many of these boxes as possible. When you're starting out, lower your expectations of yourself. Set a little bit of a lower bar so you don't come away frustrated. Aim for five plus portfolio images. We're not trying to go crazy. Aim to get 10 to 20 images for social media. Because, to make Instagram look poppin', over the course of three months, you don't need to shoot every single day. If you had 20 images from five different shoots, could you not cycle those hundred images over the course of six months, even, and make yourself look pretty busy. Five shoots, that's it. Behind the scenes images for social media, that's what you're looking to create as well, because each of these different platforms operate a little bit differently. We're going to talk about it. How Instagram is all about the beauty of the shot. But Facebook is a little bit more about a story, and a personality behind. So a behind the scenes image, with a little bit of a story, would probably do better on Facebook. Whereas a behind the scenes image is gonna fall flight right on Instagram. Two to three before's and after's for educational purposes, if you ever decide to educate your clients. Write a little bit of content piece for your website on why they would want to consider you, what makes you different. New conceptual work, you want to practice and hone techniques, and there's an opportunity there for network and vendor connections. For example, when I went to Cancun, or when I go to these different locations, I'm looking to meet with the local on-site coordination and marketing teams, and then get them their images. And they use them. So the hotel, locally, has those images and they use them. Does that make sense? Don't do it if you don't ever want to go back there. But I like Cancun, and I like those places. So if you want to send me back there, I'll go. So by all means, I'll market to those places that I want to visit. Does this give you a different look, in terms of the value of an unpaid shoot if it's done correctly? I hope so. And I hope it breaks down the myth that unpaid shoots are not worth your time, or a bane to the industry. It's literally how we have gotten our business off the ground. And I could give you so many examples of other photographers. Another friend of mine, Mike Kelley. Do you guys know Mike Kelley? He does architectural work. Some of his biggest clients and projects, including the airplane work that he is known for, it all started with a test shoot, something that he just did for himself. And it's kept him busy for like three years. That's crazy. And people are saying don't do these things. From these we're going to create the brand ambassador team. So, when you get to the place where you're launching. Launching, I believe, was week nine or ten in the road map. It's your launch week. During launch week, you then go back through the people that we test shot. Now, we should have test shot at least eight different couples by that point. Don't look at the same couples twice. You want diversity. We should have given each of them at least three to five great images that they love. If not more. If we're talking about boudoir, it'd be the same thing. If we're talking about maternity, you do the same thing. If you're talking about newborns, you do literally the exact same thing. And then upon launch of your site, you request that they give you a review. I really enjoy doing this. I wanted to let you know that I've just officially launched my business, and I would love for you to review my work on this site, if you found it enjoyable. And give them one, maximum two, places to do reviews. I'm gonna give you a little note here. If the place that you're thinking is Yelp, you may not let it be known that you're requesting reviews. It's a big no-no for Yelp. Okay? So if that's your target, is Yelp to get reviews, generally the way to do it, is you put something on the side of, like on your website, or you put something there. You can't ask for it. That's why when you walk into a restaurant, and it says People love us on Yelp. They're not specifically asking you to go to Yelp and do something. Any restaurant that does that, by the way, is actually breaking the terms of use of the site. Yelp is a fantastic place for reviews. But when you reference that, you say, I would love for a review. Here are a couple places, feel free, no attachments. Ask them on the phone so there's no, like, documentation of that. Because if they find anything, they can basically remove your account. Okay, so, understand the sensitivity of some of these platforms. Facebook, though, it's very easy to leave a review and you can request it. Some places are very sensitive to it. Be cognizant of it. Then the same brand ambassadors, with the first launch of your contest and giveaways, you're gonna request that they share it. Are you gonna request these two things within a week of each other? No. This is being needy. We don't want to be needy as businesses, right? You wanna make your, ask your favors, kind of few and far between. So give them a month of time. But when you start sending out this contest, say I would really appreciate if you guys shared this, and I would love for you guys to participate in it as well. And ask them to help. Now, I'm hoping in your heads right now you can go, oh man, a brand ambassador team. Well, if I did seven or eight different people across each week, that gives me eight people automatically. And now my brand ambassador team, I can automatically add people like my parents, by brothers, my sisters, all my friends that are close to me. I bet you can get to twenty people without even breaking a sweat. Twenty people, on the launch of your business, that will leave your business a review, some feedback, comments, and make it look like the party's already going. Along with the images that you created through that process, right? Can all of us probably get twenty? You think? Raise your hands if twenty's a pretty doable number. If not, go make more friends. What's your problem? (audience laughs) Twenty should be good. What did I say up there? Yeah, ask if your work was solid, or if they really love you. (laughs) But not if the work was not. Like if it was bad, no. We don't want to ask brand ambassadors for referral work. Can you guess why? I don't generally like asking anybody for referrals. It's pretty straight-forward. If your work is good, it's gonna naturally happen anyway. We want to make our favor requests, like, being a needy business, you have those friends that start up needy businesses. (laughs) Yeah, a nod right there. Yeah. And you get these requests to join this and do that, and help me review, and I want to win this, and I want to do this, can you please give me a like, can you...If your work is great, it's gonna stand on it's own and you don't need to worry about the referral stuff. That'll come.

Class Description

The content and opinions expressed in this course are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem

Build a business and get people to spend money on your photography. Award-winning photographer and co-founder of Lin and Jirsa Photography Pye Jirsa will walk you through the first 12 weeks of building your business. With his relatable and actionable teaching style, he’ll explain how to define your product as a photographer and determine where it fits into a consumer mindset. You’ll learn the steps to creating a brand, pricing yourself confidently, sales techniques, and basic marketing practices. This class covers everything you’ll need if you’re considering photography as a job, including:

  • Where to position yourself in the market
  • Branding your business to attract your ideal client
  • Pricing and basic financing
  • Creating a business plan
  • Setting up a portfolio
  • How to get your first customer in the door
  • Getting leads on new clients
  • Understanding sales
  • The psychology of a buyer

Pye has built multiple successful businesses from the ground up and this course includes your 12 week road map to launching your business.


1Class Introduction
2Common Myths & Unknown Truths
3The Road Ahead
4Find Your Passion
5The Lin & Jirsa Journey
6Part-time, Full-time, Employed, Partners?
7Stop Wasting Time & Money
8Your 12 Week Roadmap
9Great Plans Still Fail
10Strategy Vs. Planning
11Mind Mapping
12Select a Focus
13Competitor Research
14S.W.O.T. Analysis
15Strategy & Long Term Goals
16Values, Vision & Mission
17Effectively Managing Your Time
18Artistic Development
19Create Your Plan
20What's Your Product
21Luxury vs Consumer Products & Experiences
22Quick Break for Econ 101
23Your Target Market & Brand Message
24What's in a Name
25Your Client 'Why'
26Crafting the Why Experience
27Document the Client Experience
28Business Administration Basics
29Book Keeping Management
30Create the Logo & Branding
31Portfolio Design
32Design Your Services & Packages
33Pricing Fears & Myths
34Three Pricing Methods
35Package Pricing Psychology & Design
36Psychology of Numbers
37Pricing Q&A
38Grass Roots Marketing
39The Empty Party
40Friends & Family Test Shoots
41Join Groups
42Second Shooting Etiquette
43The Listing & Classified Hustle
44Make Instagram Simple
45Your Automated Pinterest Plan
46Facebook Because You Must
47Giveaway & Styled Shoots
48Content Marketing & SEO
49The Monster: SEO
50Selecting Your Keywords
51Testing Your Keywords
52Grouping Main & Niche Goals
53Your Content Road Map
54Content Marketing Q&A
55Inspiration to Keep Working
56How to Craft Your Content
57Internal Linking Basics
58Back Link Building Basics
59Link Value Factos
60Measuring Link Value
61Link Building Strategy & Plan
62Link Building Plan: Vendors & Guest Writing
63Link Building Plan: Features, Directories, Comments
64Link Building: Shortcuts & One Simple Tool
65What is Sales? Show Me!
66Your First Massive Failure
67The Sales Process
68Your Second Massive Failure
69Understand Buyer Psychology
70Step 0: Building Rapport & Trust
71Step 1: Identify Need or Want
72Cognitive Dissonance
73Steps 2 & 3: Value Proposition & The Solution
74Step 4 : Close, Make the Ask
75Step 5: Follow Up & Resolve Concerns
76Family Photography Hot Seat
77Business Example Hot Seat
78Boudoir Photography Hot Seat
79The Best Sales Person
80Your Mindset, Vibrations & Frequency
81Always Positive, Always Affirming
82The Second Money & Dual Process
83Chumming the Price Waters
84Creating Want or Scarcity
85Timeless Advice on Being Likable
86Selling Over The Phone
87Forbidden Words in Sales