What it Takes to be a Professional Photographer

Lesson 7/17 - Marketing 101


What it Takes to be a Professional Photographer


Lesson Info

Marketing 101

We'll talk about marketing in a little bit. So I've got this little five step thing, that I dreamed up for a blog post, a couple of weeks ago. And, it's not rocket science, let's go out and create unbelievable images. And the better they are, the easier it's going to be to market them. Because you're marketing a product, in the end. You're marketing your photographs and yourself, to some degree, at least in my genre for sure, you're definitely marketing your images, yourself and your capabilities. And, market those images, basically send those images out to clients, or whoever you think might be interested in them. If I'm shooting adventure sports, I'll send it to Outside Magazine, Men's Journal, all the climbing mags, or whichever magazine's appropriate for that. Maybe I'll talk to the athletes, and they're sponsored by six different people, I'll get the information for who I need to talk to at those companies, from the athletes, and I'll go and I'll send my images to those people, an...

d say hey, what do you think? Unless it was shot on assignment for somebody, and then I won't do that, cause I'm shooting for somebody else. But, if I'm just shooting on my own, starting out, this is a way to do it in one genre. You know, if you're shooting portraits, it's a little bit harder, because everybody's interested in portraits, but if you build a unique, amazing set of portraits, put that out there on a website, Instagram, start talking to people, locally, nationally, internationally, you might be shocked at the offers you get. So, it all come down to the work starting out, but it's easier to market that work, if it's really amazing work. How do you know if it's amazing work? You have to look at an insanely huge number of images, and have a certain artistic eye, to like see what's good and bad. License those images, get assignments. So, I told you my story, like the first three years, I was just sending out images, and then I started getting assignments, so you know, once you have people buying your images, it's hard to sell an image or license an image, but it's not that hard if you've got good work, it's pretty easy to license images. It's just finding the right client. finding the client that will, fits with that image, and the right timing. Once you start getting assignments, this goes back to the pricing, know what your work is worth to a client, images are super powerful, and clients don't necessarily have a way to sell their product without images to show world what this thing can do. And, especially in my genre, I think I'm lucky that I don't really shoot products. I shoot athletes, out there that happen to have products with them, but they're doing something with it, like the kayaker, he has a whole bunch of products he's wearing, the boat the paddle, and I'm selling a lifestyle that happens to also sell the product, so it's a little different in my genre, then maybe fashion, where you're shooting clothes on a model. You're not selling a lifestyle, you're selling a brand, an identity. So it's a little be different in terms of how it works. But, know what you're worth, and this comes back to pricing. You know, I don't want to be massively overpriced, but I certainly don't want to be the cheapest person on that thing, cause then I'm going to go broke. So, it's finding that middle road, where you're in the right zone, but you're making enough money to pay your bills and do what you need to do. And then repeat those steps one through three. Basically, create new work, put it out there and see if somebody wants it, get more assignments, keep going, that's the mouse wheel. Eventually, if you do that long enough, you're going to gain a foothold as a reputable photographer. And what I mean by a reputable, is somebody who's known, that can go out there and get the images, time after time, and then you can become reliable. In my world, that's a pretty big deal, because every photographer, it doesn't matter if you're adventure sports, or fashion, or portraiture, or landscape, you know you go out there and you get the image no matter what, and they have something to use. The worse thing a photo editor can have is the photographer comes back from an assignment and there's like, well you have this part of it but we've got this gaping hole of like no portrait. So, we have to hire somebody else to go do this thing that you were supposed to do, that's a very bad situation to be in. So, just be aware, the thing is you can't fail too often in coming back with what the client needs. If yo do that two or three times, it's over, hang it up, you're done. Because, art buyers talk to each other, photo editors at magazines talk to each other. If you don't come back from an assignment, and don't have the goods, a lot of people are going know, really quickly. So, there's not a whole lot of room for failure in terms of making images that work for the client. There's room for failure on little things, if you learn from it.

Class Description

Working as a pro photographer takes commitment, passion and tons of hard work. Many think pro photographers are on an extended vacation and happen to take a few photos while traveling the globe non-stop. While many photographers do travel quite a bit, and some go to exotic locations, the reality is quite different than the perception. In this 90-minute class we will discuss what it takes to be a pro photographer including how to perfect your craft, dial in your marketing, build a following and how to find clients that will hire you. By the end of this class you should have a level-headed, realistic view of what a photography career might entail.