5 Tips to get Paying Clients if you're New to the Photography Industry

My photography journey began back in 2006 during my glamorous MySpace days. And my glamorous I mean photoshoots in my bff’s back yard standing in front of her wooden fence, editing the photos on PicMonkey and having neon glittery text saying PC4PC or some Wiz Khalifa quote….yup. Sooo glamourous. I still cringe haha.

After I retired my MySpace days and backyard photoshoots, I joined the yearbook staff in high school a couple years later and photographed all the sporting events. I’m not athletic but I liked capturing other people in action - it was thrilling to me.

In college I dabbled in photography here and there but was never serious about it because I didn’t have a camera or money to buy a camera because #BallingOnABudget haha. Shortly after John and I got married his step dad surprised me with my first camera and I immediately turned to the internet to learn all things photography - from learning how to use my camera, to lighting, posing people…the whole shabang. I started taking photos of my friends for fun.

A sweet Instagram friend reached out to me and asked if I wanted to shoot together for her blog. I was super nervous but extremely excited to have my first official shoot. At the end of the shoot she asked me how much she owed me. I was caught off guard and didn’t know what to say because I honestly wasn’t expecting anything. She paid about $50 that day and ran home to John so excited to find out someone valued my work! John encouraged me to start charging people for their sessions and from then on, I began to grow my business!

So maybe you’re feeling stuck. Maybe you just got a camera and you’re trying to get some experience and a little extra cash flow. I’m here to tell you that IT’S POSSIBLE and you CAN do it! Keep reading to see how to do it :)

TIP #1: START TAKING PHOTOS OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO
This will help you feel comfortable since you know them. Start playing around in LightRoom (I started with the free version on my iPhone and recommend this if you’re on a budget) and after you edit the images post them!


TIP #2: CREATE SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS TO SHARE YOUR PORTFOLIO
If you already have a good following on social media (close to 500+ followers) I would encourage you to just start posting your sessions on there so your family and friends can see them. I did this and had a lot of my friends and people I knew [via Instagram] reach out to me for a session because they liked my work or saw photos of their friends on my feed. Create a Business Facebook Page and invite your friends to like it. You can also share your Instagram photos through your business FB page by connecting them. This a great way to expand your audience by using different social media platforms.

TIP #3: START MARKETING YOURSELF ON SOCIAL MEDIA
You’re not going to be an incredible photographer right off the bat. And that’s okay. I wasn’t. But I believed in myself and in my craft so I started sharing with my internet community that I was booking sessions. I would advertise on Instagram stories, changed my Instagram bio to say I’m booking clients, and my clients started telling their friends to book with me because they had a good experience. Value your craft and others will value it too.

TIP #4: BUILD CONNECTIONS AND COMMUNITY WITH OTHER CREATIVES
I started reaching out to other photographers in my area and meeting with them for coffee to learn as much as I could. I have built an online photography community of over 200+ people who are in all sorts of phases of photography. Some have just started and other have been doing it for DECADES! It’s been such a fun and diverse community and a fun way to encourage and learn from each other! :)

TIP #5: START TELLING PEOPLE YOU’RE BOOKING SESSIONS AND DETERMINE YOUR RATE
If someone messages you asking you to do a shoot, tell them they can send you an email and you will send over your rates! I send something along the lines of this whenever someone reaches out to me: “Hi ____! Thanks so much for reaching out to me! I would love to work with you! Please send me an email at ________ and I can send over my pricing packages. Have a great day!” There were times [and still are] when people ask me for free sessions or trades/collabs and I tell will tell them, “ Hi ____! Thanks so much for reaching out to me! I would love to work with you! I am currently not taking free sessions or collabs, however if you are interested in booking a session with me, I would be more than happy to send over additional information to you. Let me know if you’re interested. Have a great day!” There will be people who will undervalue you or who will try to bargain with you, stand by your work. You are worth it!!

I hope this was helpful! Best of luck to you!! If you have any questions or want to chat more, feel free to say hi: byjuliamarie@gmail.com :)

Julia Mann