How to Launch a Photography Business

Lesson 31 of 87

Portfolio Design


How to Launch a Photography Business

Lesson 31 of 87

Portfolio Design


Lesson Info

Portfolio Design

This is one of those big things that I'm sorry but everyone of us makes this mistake. I'm not, I'm putting myself in the exact same boat because I did the exact same thing. You put too much on your portfolio. Way too much. Less is more. Less is so much more. Seriously though, less is more. Your best work is to come, that's all I want you guys to remember right now, that all of your best work is down the road. Why would you fill up a portfolio of average right now when you can just populate it with ten great images and be done and keep refreshing it? Correct. So this is the checklist for your portfolio. I want you to ask yourself these questions with every image that you put into that portfolio. Does it represent my best work? Does it beat out the last image? Meaning every subsequent images, like if you wanna put 20 images in your portfolio by all means. Put 20 images in your portfolio, but every image better be better than the last one. That makes sense? Does it fit my brand message? S...

o if your luxury, refined, do you show the image? I know the clients might ask you to take that one photograph, where they've got signs of that are like, I just married her, and they are like smoking a stogy. Do you put that in your portfolio? No, you put the images that fit the clients that you're attracting, not the clients that you may have heard. Okay. That's a big thing. You can capture great images. Look, I'm not telling you, if you've got that crazy client that wants that kind of stuff I love it, it's fun. It's fun to do jumping shots. It's fun to do, I'm gonna step on your shirt. It's fun to do like all the different kind of shots that all these people want. That's great, but I'm gonna put the images in my portfolio that attract the kind of customer that I want to have not the kind of customer that we have currently. That's a big thing. It's okay to not put very client in your portfolio. Does it move my potential client? This is, think of the order of things that we just did. Who is your potential client? I want you all to say where you identified your potential client. Where? In this class, where do we identify our potential client? Personas. So when you ask yourself that question, you look back to the persona and you say this is the client that I'm actually going for. Does this image fit them? Would it move emotionally that person? Does it meet web usability. This is basically sizing, making sure that you're not putting five megabytes jpeg files in your portfolio. Usually the templates will size and handle that kind of stuff but you wanna test it. Demonstrate something that I can recreate. This is a big one. We sometimes get the idea that it's a good idea to go to portfolio building workshops, where the instructor will set up everything. Look over your shoulder, help you, then you go and place those images in your portfolio. Now, most of my in person workshops I say this is a portfolio building experience on top of all the education you're gonna get, and then I warn the students in the class do not place any of these images into your portfolio unless you're 100% confident you can recreate it, because you're gonna shoot yourself in the foot, when a client comes to you with the expectation of this portfolio, and then what they end up getting deviates far from it. Yes. Dan, right? Yeah. Yes. Yeah, what about watermarking? Watermarking is great, you should be watermarking... You should watermark everything then or? Yeah, and what I would say to that is small. Small. Put it in the corner, non-intrusive, and the big thing behind that is nobody wants to share your images that advertise you. If you've got a big fat watermark on there, your clients won't wanna share it. Your vendors won't wanna share it. Nobody wants to share it because its just an ad for you, and it becomes distraction to the actual image itself. So we keep them small in the corner. We used to have a bar that goes across the bottom which was still fairly small, and the we were like you know what, we need to go even smaller. We put it in the corner, and if somebody chops it off, do you think we will send an email to them? Upset. I can't believe you did that, no. They chop it off, let them chop it off. I know that probably is gonna, that will probably send the internet into a blaze right now. What did he just say, chop of our logos? Again, my response is, who cares? Because you know what, let's say Dan you took the most amazing picture of me and I use that picture. I'm gonna give you example this, Casey. CreativeLive Casey, he took a portrait of me, while I was here teaching a class that I used for literally everything. There is no watermark on the image. He's requested no credits whatsoever, but I loved that portrait and I use it everywhere, and because I love it and I use it everywhere, I credit him every single place that I use it, and when somebody asks me who took that picture, even if it wasn't credited I would say, oh my friend Casey took that picture while I was at CreativeLive. My point is, if your image is good enough to stand on its own without a watermark, you shouldn't worry whether it has one or not, because if somebody asked the person who took it, they will tell them, and if that person loves that image and they love you and the experience that you gave them, they always talk about it. But as soon as they get that email from you saying, hey I would really appreciate you not cropping off my watermarks. That one thing, one thing, is going to tarnish and experience that up to that point was perfect. Makes sense? Are the Internets on fire? Just a quick clarification, if you don't mind, coz people are asking, wait do we watermark our images that we are putting on our own website? On your website, no, alright. Okay. If it's in your own portfolio, like on your blog, yes, because people are taking stuff from your blog to go use it at other places, that's fine, but in your own portfolio it's like, I don't know why you need to do that. Like you're on Apple's website and they're like this image was taken by Apple. I mean like yeah, I'm on your website man, relax. Like there is no point to doubling up. They already are on your site. Okay, this is the checklist that we're gonna ask ourselves with every single image we put in there, and this is what I'm gonna remind you with. Everyone of you is gonna make a mistake of showing too much. So think this in your head, 10 to 20 seconds. Write it down. 10 to 20 seconds, I want you to think that every single time you review your portfolio to add or subtract images. 10 to 20 seconds, what that is, is the average amount of time that someone is gonna spend looking at those photos. Okay, before they move on to either another website or before they move on to a different page on your site. Which 20 seconds is on the long side. How many times have you guys stopped on a page for 20 seconds to look? And if your best images are buried three deep, they're gone. They're not even gonna be seen. Is that making sense? Think cohesive. We have a little fun thing, I was gonna, we're gonna do a whole co-example together and I was gonna bring it up on lightroom. We are not gonna have the time though. So instead, I have some of my very first shoot here guys. This is my first engagement session followed by my second engagement session. Roping my friends in to come and do things that I would never right now ask anybody to do ever again. So what do we have? Beautiful sepia tone images next to black and whites, next to color and a mixture and sepia because you might want some of those. We have some full poppy images over here. I had a friend that asked me several years ago. He said Pye, do you think it's important, this is like nine and a half years ago when I was putting out this kind of stuff on the blog, do you think it's important that you define a look in a style? Is like no. No. I want my clients to know that I am diverse like they are. Yah, it's really important. It took me about another year to figure that out. Some of you has such a great headstart it's fantastic, it's great. There is nothing about this that is cohesive though. When you look at this as a derivable, if you saw this in a portfolio, you will be like, man, that dude sucks. Let's be honest. Let's be honest. Yeah, see Joe back there. Yeah, I can do that. Look at the dutching along everything, coz dutch angle means creative guys. It doesn't, don't do that. Then this is my second engagement issue, with Justin Yvette, my business partner and his lovely wife, well fiance at the time. I mean I got good stuff in here, I got like blasted direct flash with like sepia tones. I mean I got, like dutching was my thing right now, you can tell. There is good leading lines, another great sepia tone, coz what if they want sepia next to black and whites on the wall. You never know. You never know guys. Under exposures like it's all good. Little dark, it's, in case they want something more moody you know. There is nothing about this that is cohesive. Nothing about that is good. Now here is the magic of it, nothing about this that is cohesive. Same craptastic images. If that's what you saw. Still not fantastic, but what's the impression of those four images compared to that? Okay. So if the average person is gonna spend ten seconds on my site, which one do I want them to see? When you saw this, you would probably say right now, oh that person is okay. Not bad. It's the exact same set of images. What just happened? It's the exact same set. I just trimmed it. I didn't even do anything different post processing, it's all the same. Does that help hammer this home for you guys? Now this is the next question, what about when, I'm charging an amount and my clients don't get my portfolios stuff and they're unhappy, coz we talked about this, right. Not showing images that you can't recreate. Do you think I could recreate this consistently at the time? No. I didn't know why things looked a certain way. I didn't know why it looked like a certain image. I didn't know any of those things, I was learning it. These are my very first few shoots I'm learning it. This is the big things about price points is that if you're always charging below what you're worth, you will never run into that issue. So back then I wasn't charging these people. What did they have to be upset about? It was just a little bit of their time. They got a few images that they liked out of it and then I moved into the 250 dollar cloud, and the 500 dollar weddings. What do they have to be upset about? They got 50 great images and 750 not so good ones, but it's what they expected, right? If they pay a certain amount they're not expecting Jose Villa to show up and take all sorts of crazy images. They're expecting, hope we get some good shots, and they got some good shots. That's where your packages and your price point and your portfolio is gonna come into play. If you're charging a higher amount and you're showing just beautiful stuff, that better be what every image looks like. So my final recommendation on your portfolio, once you have it set up, join, like say SLR Lounge photography community on Facebook and say I would like to request a portfolio critique. Join any of these groups. Find the toughest critique out there and the internet has the toughest critiques out there. Everybody on the internet is an amazing critique. Mostly not so great at the creation part, but they can identify poop for you. Ask them to review your work, and you know what, I'm gonna give you all a piece of advice that if you heed, will be one of the things that makes you advance faster than anybody else in the industry. Stop thinking of your photographs as your baby. I know it's your work. I know you're proud of it, it's gonna stink. You're gonna have photographs that are not good, and even five years into your business you're gonna post things that are not good, and if you can look at the critique and say lemme look at this objectively. You will be in a whole different world emotionally, from a growth standpoint, everything. Then if you look at every image as our baby and you get offended by what everybody says. Does that make sense? We have a very open standard of critiquing inside of the company, where we have an actual critique log. It is a public log inside of Lin & Jirsa where everybody is on blast. Pye, WTF, image number. Everybody, all 30 shooters, anybody, a post producer, a shooter, a blogger, a social media person. Anyone can point out an image and go register in the log and say that wasn't good and it's public. That's the level I want you guys to get to in terms of like the way you think about your work. Think of it, be proud of it, that's fantastic. Be proud of it but be ready to be critiqued and to improve because if you listen to it, oh you're gonna get so good so quickly.

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.


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


Angela Sanchez

This class has been an eye opener for me; a point of change in my vision as photographer. Pye is and AMAZING, INSPIRING, GENEROUS instructor, with an, authentic desire to help people and to share with them the best of his knowledge. I will not have enough words to say thanks to Pye Jirsa, as a teacher and as a human being, and thanks to Creative Live who allows us to benefit from the experience of such a knowledgeable, educated, well-versed photographer and instructor. 1000% recommended!

Yenith LianTy

Been following this guy forever. Pye Jirsa may be well known in the wedding & portrait photography world and if there is something that this guy knows it is how to create a business, a sustainable one. The workbook he provided is comprehensive, and I honestly wish I had this when I first started out as a photographer! I love that he talks about his failures, keeping it real and honest for anyone starting out. He is definitely one of the best instructors around, super humble, down to earth and with a sense of humor to boot. The course is worth it! THE WORKBOOK is AMAZING! SUPER DETAILED!

Tai Hsin

I saw the live broadcast and it was amazing. Pye is one of the best instructors and inspirational photographers.. there are two type of ppl.. one who has the knowledge and doesn’t know to teach another who has the knowledge and knows how to get it through.... I still didn’t purchase this as I am saving for my daughters entrance fee for collage... :) Anyways he’s one of the best instructors and a good friend.... very humble and always cracks jokes.... Keep inspiring and keep teaching.... my blessings are always with you pye.