How to Find Your First Photography Clients in 3 Simple Steps

How to get your first photography clients in four steps!What is your favorite type of photography and what area of photography do you specialize in? Are they one in the same, like children and babies? Or are they at opposite ends of the spectrum, like say, pets and weddings?

It might seem obvious, but your chances of success and happiness will be greatly increased if you follow the areas that you are most passionate about.

However, bringing in clients is not all about passion…

…You need to make sure that your business makes sense to potential clients. (In other words, why would a client choose the photographer that specializes in pets, children, babies, oh…and weddings… when they could choose the “fine art wedding photographer”?)

After you get specific about what it is you going to specialize in, you need to plan and take the actions necessary to bring in the right clients.

In this post, I want to guide you through choosing a speciality that will allow you to do the work you love, create a plan for reaching your first customers, and making the pitch!

<< NOTE: We’ve also created a free workbook, so you can follow along with each step as we go. It’s called the How to Attract Your Ideal Clients workbook. Click here to download it! >>

I’ve broken this process down into three simple steps. Let’s take a look at how to bring in your first photography clients:

Step 1: Choose Your Photography Specialty

At times, we all have to photograph certain jobs that are not our favorite in order to pay the bills, and that is fine!

However, if you are photographing weddings all weekend and dreading every minute of it, all while you daydream of photographing pets, it’s time to pause for a moment and think of ways to decrease the amount of weddings you photograph while you ease into becoming a pet photographer.

find your photography specialityThe key to choosing a speciality for your business is to find the intersection of what you are most talented at, what interests you most, and what there is a demand for in your community (market need).

We highly suggest choosing JUST ONE type of photography you’d like to become known for. This will be what you specialize in. Then, you can choose 2-3 areas that will become your secondary specialties. These will be related areas of photography that naturally fit together and complement your specialty.

Ok – time to pull out a sheet of paper and start brainstorming!

Action Step:  Make a list of the top 3 types of photography that you would love to make your career.

Choose the one that interests you the most, that you are best at, and that there is a demand for in your community.

Next, ask yourself – do the other two areas you wrote down complement your speciality?

For example, If you want to be known as children’s photography, family and pets work well as secondary specialties.

If you want to be a wedding photographer, engagement and baby photography work well together. (Think about it this way: if someone is looking for a wedding photographer, it’s likely that they will first need engagement photos, and soon after the wedding may need baby photos! These specialties flow together.)

However, if you happened to write down weddings, pets, and food photography, you will need to choose the one you want to be known for and get rid of the other two options, as these services do not make sense together!

Step 2: Determine Your Ideal Client

The next step is to figure out exactly who is the right fit for your services. We’ve got a full article on how to do this here, and we’ve also created a free workbook to help you out with this (click here for the free workbook).

But basically, you want to really hone in on who you want to work with for a couple reasons:

  • It will allow you to create marketing that makes your ideal client think, “hey – they are talking right to me!”
  • It will make it easier for you to understand what you client wants so you can offer services and products that make them want to spend more with you (because they are such a perfect fit for them!)

So, get specific! Make a list of answers to questions like:

  • How old is my ideal client? Does she have children? What is her profession?
  • What towns do my ideal clients live in?
  • Where does she shop? What websites does she visit frequently? What magazines does she read?

The more specific you can get, the better you will be able to communicate with and attract more of the right clients.

Step 3: Create Your Plan

Now that you’ve determined your specialty and have an idea of who you want to reach, you’re probably going to fall in one of the two situations below. Let’s take a look at how to plan for either scenario:

Scenario A: “But I have no portfolio photos for the type of work I want to specialize in!”

Depending where you are in your journey, you may be most interested in an area that you have never photographed.

For example, let’s say you want to specialize in high school senior portraits. You need samples for your marketing, but you have no high-school aged kids to photograph!

Action Step:  To fix this problem, make a list of all your friends and family members that have children that will be a senior in the next year (or even two years) and reach out to them.

Tell them that you will do a cool senior session with their child for free and provide them with a print and some low resolution images suitable for their Facebook or social media in return for their time.

This will give you some experience working with high school kids, as well as gain images for your portfolio.

Make sure that the images that you provide the seniors have your logo or studio name on them so that their friends will know who took the pictures. This will get your name out there in the community, and there’s a good chance that if the friends like what they see, you may gain some new clients.

Scenario B: “I have a portfolio, but I need to find more of the right paying clients!”

If you have samples already but need more clients, let’s make a different list.

Let’s say your specialty is children’s portraits. In this case, your goal should be to find a way to get in front of parents with young kids.

When we first started our studio, we tried to get our work into any place that children and their parents would frequent. This meant we visited any local children’s clothing stores, daycares and preschools, dance and karate schools.

If you have young children or friends and family with young kids where do they shop? Are the kids in a local preschool or sport or dance school? If they are, find out the name of the director or owner.

Action Step: Write down all of the places where you can get in front of your target customers (ideal clients), as well as the contact information.

Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and get your name out there!

For example, when we first started all those years ago, one of the things that put us on the map was photographing school pictures at local daycares and preschools.

This is more a of a high-volume – low-dollar type of photography than a high-end, high-priced type of photography, but if you are just starting out it does two great things:

  1. You bring in some quick revenue. You provide the parents with an envelope with which they preselect and prepay for their child’s pictures.
  2. You leave with a list of parents that now know who you are and are pleased with their child’s school pictures. You can now market to them with your regular priced, more artistic work.

Try and think of other ways you can get in front of many new clients at once.

Key Takeaways:

Let’s go over the three steps quickly:

  1. Choose your photography speciality. Pick only ONE area that you want to become known as the best in the area for. Then pick two areas the complement this speciality well.
  2. Determine your ideal client. Who is the perfect fit for you speciality? Where do they hang out? Who exactly do you want to work with?
  3. Create your plan. If you don’t have a portfolio yet, brainstorm who you can get to model for you. If you do have a portfolio, think of places you can get in front of your target audience.

Now, it’s your turn!

  • Take action on the three steps above.
  • In the comments below, let us know what your specialty is going to be! I’ll be here to respond to every comment 🙂

Want to dive deeper?

Get access to our full 3 step training for how to choose your ideal client, get paid to build your portfolio and transition to premium pricing through a video lessons, client worksheet, and word-for-word script!

Click Here to Learn More!

 

  • Tonya Berrier

    I have a question….. when you are trying to get things in place to start your own photography business what type of things do you need, like printer, and editing software. Or do you do printing online from a printing company and if so how do you know who to use?

  • Hi Tonya, thanks for your question!

    As far as editing software, Photoshop is a must.

    With printing, you’ll definitely want to use a professional photo lab company rather than printing in-house. We use http://millerslab.com/ for most of our printing!

  • Tonya Berrier

    Thank you!

  • Deb Cunningham

    Sir, where do you get package order forms and what software program Names are effective for ordering prints? I have spent to long in editing, then to pick best photos out of session to send to print. Each print required logo. Is there away to mass produce logo on photos in the correct area? Trying to pull the workflow together! Afterall, Time is money!

  • Hi Deb,

    You are right, time is definitely money! When my lab (Millers Professional Imaging) prints my portraits they have my logo on file and will print it on the photograph, on any size from 11×14 and under. On larger portraits I will hand sign them.

    If you need to have your logo appear on proofs or contact sheets for clients to see, you can create a photoshop action that you can run to save time. Here’s a link to a Youtube video that shows how to set it up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3nu5o09wI0

    I hope that helps.
    Scott