How to Market to Your Ideal Client
Now, marketing, fill up your portfolio. Talk to your clients and go to social media. Now, don't just shoot, this is my recommendation. Find a family that has one child. When you have a family with just one child, it is so much harder to get interaction because siblings naturally play together, so that's a really good time for you guys to practice, with one child in a family, especially a child that's like, you know, 10 months old, because you're gonna be relying on getting interaction between the parents. So you're gonna have to think, okay, so here's this first client that I want to add to my portfolio. They are mom, dad, baby. What can I do as a photographer to get some interaction at this age? Okay, so let's think about, as a 10-month old child, what does a 10-month old do? Look cute, crawl maybe, sit, right? That's about it, laugh, giggle, snuggle mom, right? Here's the connection piece. Dad likes to throw babies up and give 'em kisses. That's a connection piece. If they have a pet...
you can get some connection with the baby that way. You can get some connection, you know, with varying your perspective and composition, which we're gonna go over. So try to do a family like that. Another family then, so that's one piece of your portfolio. You've got the baby, you have baby and mom, you have baby and dad, three pictures already, right? So let's do another family. Let's get a family with two kids, okay? Let's do girl and girl, okay? So the two little girls can play dolls together. They can tickle each other, they can snuggle and hug. So now we have sibling pictures with two girls. That's another family, okay? We can get two girls on dad. Dad can grab each kid and run towards you. That's one of my favorite shots. The dad can be on the ground and playing with both kids. So think about how many images we just got for your portfolio with that one family. So now we have baby family, sister-sister family, so let's go to another one. Do you guys see where I'm going with this? This is how you build your portfolio, okay? You are very, very specific on your model calls, okay? It's not like, "Oh, your house is cute, your kids are cute. You guys are cute, let's shoot you." No, it doesn't work that way, okay? Everything is very, very specific. Everything I do, even though I say I'm very, you know, elevated all the time, I'm very particular about things. I'm very particular about things, very particular about which images I show. Every image I show needs to have some sort of meaning to the viewer, right? It can still be beautiful. Don't think that you can't have a beautiful, meaningful photo and lose the beauty. You can still keep beauty. And that's our job, right? But while you're practicing, right now you just need to get all those different families in, and then all of a sudden, say you do five families, then you have 50 pictures, right, already, for your portfolio, and it looks like you've been shooting forever, right? Okay, does that make sense? Do you have a question?
Yeah, in terms of that portfolio building for folks who are new, what are some other ways or some ways that you can get more and more people to build your portfolio? Are there specific ways to get those portfolio building clients?
So the biggest thing that I've done obviously is friends of my children or friends of you know, myself. You can, you know, do your church groups or you can do your kid's school. You can offer you know, "If you will help me advertise I'll give you a free session," type of thing. So you know, that's a really good way to do it, on social media, but I think the biggest thing is just you have to really reach out to people that you know, because they trust you. They're gonna let you in their home. Everything is gonna be more comfortable. But you know, you can change your outlets of where you're getting people from. But I think the key is just, at the beginning, getting people that you really know for portfolio building reasons. It's happened to me before where I have done a model call on Facebook, and every single time I do a model call for something they want free pictures now, so they kind of expect that they're gonna get chosen all the time because, and that's difficult. You have to be careful with that, 'cause you don't want to kinda get into a situation where you're doing everything for free. You still need to make a living, obviously. And when you are portfolio building, make sure you tell yourself that. "Okay, I'm only gonna do X number of sessions for portfolio building, everybody's gonna know that this is my portfolio building year. I'm not gonna charge and once I'm ready," then you can start charging and then you charge what your market can handle and where you're at in your photography level, you know? Not every market's the same. I am very, I think I'm different in my pricing views than some other photographers. I'm very, you know, everybody says it doesn't matter what market you're in, but I think it does. I mean, people charge things differently in Chicago than they do in the middle of Texas, you know? In my opinion, at least, and this is all just my opinion. You know, I know there's very, pricing's kind of touchy, 'cause there's a lot of mindsets, you know, a lot of thoughts, but--
Emily, when you were talking about lenses, what makes you pick up a 35 versus a 24 or vice--
How far I have in the room to back up. So later in the show I'll probably be shooting with both, and I will show you guys the difference. There's not that much of a difference in focal length between the 24 and 35, but often it's enough to kind of cram myself back in the corner and capture more of the scene. The 35 brings me a little bit closer, even though the 35 really isn't close. There are times where I'll throw on the 50, depending on the size of the home and how comfortable the kids are with me. We'll go a little bit into wide-angle lenses. I love the 24 because, and Nikon just came out with a 1.8. It's half the price as the 1.4, which is nice, and you don't need 1.4 really, for what we're getting at for lifestyle types of sessions. We don't need everything blurred out that much. I like the 24 because the edges aren't as distorted, so if you, as a newer photographer, were to pick a lens, I would pick the 35 millimeter or the 24. That's just my recommendation, one or the other. That's just, you know, how much room you want, how much you want in the scene.
And a question about when you are in the home and in terms of lens choice as well, what do you do when it's super dark in the client's home, or you don't really have good window light? How do you sort of mentally prepare for that when you're going in there?
We are gonna touch, we have a whole section on lighting. So we are gonna tackle all of that, but just to kind of give you a little bit of an answer, if it's a super, super cloudy, dark, dark, dark day, even the homes that have tons of windows will be dark. So we reschedule those days, 'cause that's silly, you know? There's no reason to, you know, you try to reschedule on those really dark days. If you have a home that doesn't have a lot of light, this is where it's really important for you to, if you're gonna do this for a living, to invest in a camera that can handle those high iSO capabilities, and we'll get more into that, but unfortunately, unless you're carrying around lighting equipment, which does not work well with real life moving here and there, it's like, "Let's wait while I set up my light." It doesn't work, so you just have to invest in a camera that can handle that higher iSO.
If you're already an established photographer, would you still not charge for portfolio building, or would you charge a different price?
So that part's trickier. So when I do that, I don't verbally announce that I'm looking for model calls, right? So they don't know that they were free, right? Now they all know, but so they don't know that they were free, so I have some families that are just so much fun, and they're so, you know, I know that they're gonna cooperate, and I have these ideas and I don't, you know, sometimes you don't want to try new things all the time with a paying client, 'cause Heaven forbid something goes wrong, you know? Like, I'm real too, like stuff goes wrong. You know, I get rid of a lot of images that I take. So you just don't tell. Just kind of call and be like, "Hey, can I borrow you? I have an idea," you know, yeah.
So do you guys ever use a flash, or are you just looking for natural light?
No, I have one. I used it once at a wedding, and yeah, that was it. And I think the battery's corroded in the flash, actually. I've got the 900. Yeah, I don't ever need it. I just, you can, you know? There's nothing wrong with using a flash. My camera just supports a really high iSO, so I can get what I want, and you can always get light in people's homes. People think that you can't, but say there's one amazing window and it's in the family room and there's a couch in front of it. What are you gonna do? Move the couch, right? And this is all why it's so important to talk with your clients ahead of time, which we're gonna go into. We have so much meat of information coming up, but we'll talk about that.
What do you consider a high iSO?
It depends on the camera. I mean, so high iSO for me, I like to be able to take it up to like 20,000. Not all cameras can do that, and not all cameras can do that well. When I had my D700, which I love that camera. I will never get rid of that camera. The color on the camera is amazing. You can't buy 'em anymore. That camera can go up, I don't know, depending on who you ask, about like 3, before you start getting grain, and there's nothing wrong with grain. And when you're first portfolio building, you're gonna have some grain in your photos if you don't have the camera to support a high iSO, and that's fine. You know, there's Noiseware you can use to tackle some of that. You can get, you know, if you don't have the financial resources right away to invest in a bigger camera, the first thing that you should invest in is a prime lens that can open really, really wide. 'Cause that's gonna give you that same, not the same, but say you have a 35 1.4, you're gonna get a lot more light in with that than you would with you know, a zoom lens. So that's kind of a way to kinda go around that, 'cause I didn't start off with all of this gear at all. And that picture of Tyler, and all those pictures in the dark, they were dark and they were grainy, and that's when I became obsessed with film because I loved the grain. I'm like, "This is crazy. I just need to start shooting film." So I did, because I love that look, you know? And that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that.