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10 Professionals Share the Secrets of Starting a Successful Photography Business

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10 Professionals Share the Secrets of Starting a Successful Photography Business

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10 Professionals Share the Secrets of Starting a Successful Photography Business

  1. 1. How Did You Go Pro? 10 Professionals Share the Secrets of Starting a Successful Photography Business
  2. 2. Christina Van Dyke is the owner/founder of Van Dyke Design & Photography, a boutique creative agency offering private, corporate and commercial design and photography services. Her work can be found at vandyke-photography.com Christina Van Dyke Christina Van Dyke is the owner/founder of Van Dyke Design & Photography, a boutique creative agency offering private, corporate and commercial design and photography services. Her work can be found at vandyke-photography.com Christina Van Dyke Christina
  3. 3. A project I was working on for one of my graphic design clients required custom photography. Out of necessity, I picked up the camera (having had limited experience with film photography from my college days). Needless to say, I took a chance, fell in LOVE, and never looked back. Christina Van Dyke How did you find your first client?
  4. 4. Christina Van Dyke How did you get your best client? My best client found out about my photographic services from a word-of-mouth referral. That client has since introduced me to countless new clients, who are all just as fabulous. The lesson I’ve learned is to always treat each and every client as if they are your ONLY client. Provide great work and a great customer experience. In return, your clients will reward you with wonderful referrals that keep your business growing and thriving.
  5. 5. Christina Van Dyke What do new photographers need to know? I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple. Learn everything you can about your ideal customer, and then offer the services/products that you most enjoy creating and which people most want to purchase from you. Then you’ve found your niche.
  6. 6. Cappy is a wedding photographer based in New York’s Hudson Valley who has photographed weddings all over the world. Her work has been featured in Brides, New York Magazine, Elle, The Knot, Well Wed, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style and many others. You can find her at cappyhotchkiss.com. Cappy Hotchkiss
  7. 7. How did you find your first client? I found my first buyer (in my case, my first bride and groom) in the dog run on the Upper West Side! At that point, I had photographed weddings for a few friends and absolutely loved it. Someone in the dog run overheard me talking about it and asked me to shoot her wedding. I still remember what a thrill it was - and how scary and fabulous it was. I took a ton of black and white shots with real film and used a vintage camera for some portraits. They just loved them. Cappy Hotchkiss
  8. 8. Cappy Hotchkiss What do new photographers need to know? My advice to new photographers to help them get buyers is this: Network, be honest, and approach social media from all angles. If you do good work and put it out there, the jobs will come. The biggest positive impact on my sales has been being published so often - and good word of mouth.
  9. 9. Casey Kelbaugh, caseykelbaugh.com, is a NYC- based photographer and the founder of Slideluck, slideluck.com Casey Kelbaugh Casey
  10. 10. How did you find your first client? How did you get your best client? In my 15 years in the business, I have never gotten a job out of thin air. Every single break, every assisting gig, every big campaign, every meat-and-potatoes job has come to me through some kind of relationship. While I know this concept is not revolutionary, I think we sometimes lose sight of the simple power of human connectivity. Making great work is important, but just as important is building and maintaining relationships. Ultimately, you’re working with people. Casey Kelbaugh
  11. 11. What do new photographers need to know? I think it’s important to look beyond your photo industry peers for job opportunities. It may seem sensible to network with photo editors and art directors, but you are competing for their attention with every other photographer under the sun. Clients can be found anywhere, so think about reaching out to your friends that work at startups, universities, law firms and restaurants. When building your clientele, try to think outside of the box. Casey Kelbaugh
  12. 12. James Brosher is an editorial, commercial and wedding photographer based in Bloomington, Indiana. His editorial clients include The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune, among others. He is a former staff photographer at the South Bend Tribune and Wyoming Tribune Eagle. His work can be found at brosher.com. James Brosher James
  13. 13. How did you find your first client? I left a staff photographer position at the South Bend Tribune to move to Bloomington, Indiana. I had a few connections in Bloomington and Indianapolis, which lead to some freelance work immediately when I moved back. One day I got a call from the Indianapolis Star needing an event covered in 15 minutes. I’ve been able to get several jobs because of flexibility. Being around, available and being able to anticipate when a publication might need you (a big event, news, sporting event, etc.) goes a long way. James Brosher
  14. 14. How did you get your best client? One day I was at the library and got a phone call from a weird number. I answered, and I was glad that I did: it was a great job that paid my bills for an entire month. The client said he had called a couple other people but I got the job because I answered the phone. Ever since then, I’ve made a point to always answer my phone. You never know when a great client will call. James Brosher
  15. 15. What do new photographers need to know? As is the case in almost any industry, networking is huge. Just knowing someone informally goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to reach out to editors, publications or other photographers to introduce yourself. James Brosher
  16. 16. Holly Ireland is located in San Diego, CA and specializes in Wedding, Dance and Family Photography. Her website is hollyireland.com Holly Ireland Holly
  17. 17. How did you find your first client? I started with friends and family. How did you find your best client? My best client was one who hired us for a wedding. It was really profitable, nice, beautiful and led to multiple referrals afterwards. Holly Ireland
  18. 18. What do new photographers need to know? I recommend networking in all the markets that your photography specializes in. Also, develop a strong social media following, have a strong workflow in place early on, and never stop practicing and learning. Holly Ireland
  19. 19. Marlene Hielema Marlene Hielema is a photo & video educator, and digital content creator in Calgary, Canada. Her work can be found at imagemaven.com and imagemavenvideo.com Marlene
  20. 20. How did you find your first client buyer(s)? Over the years, I’ve found most of my clients through personal connections and referrals, including my first clients. I got one of my most lucrative corporate clients when I was in grad school. One of my classmates was working in public relations for a multinational energy company and kept me busy shooting and doing print production work for over 5 years. I would definitely define that as my “big break.” More recently, I’ve been getting new clients from my YouTube videos for both my online courses and video editing. People contact me to say, “Can you teach me to do what you do?” Marlene Hielema
  21. 21. or they say, “Can you edit my videos to look like yours?” YouTube has become like an online portfolio for my content creation services. How did you find your best client? For your courses, what has made the biggest positive impact on your sales? As I eluded to above, YouTube has definitely made a huge positive impact on my sales over the past 3 years. Photographers are well-positioned to create YouTube content, whether that’s uploading a portfolio, creating video slideshows Marlene Hielema
  22. 22. from events, shooting behind-the-scenes videos, or producing educational content. You don’t even need to know anything about video editing or production to get started doing slideshow videos. YouTube videos get better with age, and are indexed by Google. That is the huge advantage over other social media channels. I have more interaction on my YouTube channels than I do on Facebook, Twitter and my blogs combined. Marlene Hielema
  23. 23. What do new photographers need to know? You have to get out and meet people! People like to work with people they like, so you need to make connections with people who need the type of work you want to do. Have your elevator pitch ready, because I have met a lot of future clients at parties. Even if you’re not the best photographer, if you are a good person who acts professionally, you will get work. Try to avoid the “this will be good for your portfolio” clients, as there are lots of people who like to take advantage of beginners. Marlene Hielema
  24. 24. Andrew Federman Andrew Federman is a photographer working in a photojournalistic style for clients including Google, YouTube, L2, Hearst Magazines, the Steve Nash Foundation and many others. His work can be found at andrewfederman.com Andrew
  25. 25. How did you find your first client? My first client was a New York-based event production company called Dalzell Productions that was known for giving people a chance to push their qualifications beyond what they had ever been asked to do before. In my case, I was an amateur photographer, with an old manual film camera from the 1970’s (Olympus OM-2) with two lenses (a 50mm and 28mm), who had a desire to move into the world of professional photography. They brought me on to photograph the 2004 FiFi (Fragrance Foundation) awards show from a Andrew Federman
  26. 26. Andrew Federman photojournalistic perspective. There were press photographers at the event who mainly focused on celebrities, but Dalzell Productions wanted me to capture the story of the whole event. I printed all the photos after the event and put them in a book, which really helped to enhance the narrative the images told. (A testament to the power of editing!) They loved the photos and hired me for many subsequent events!
  27. 27. Andrew Federman How did you get your best client? I got my best client, Google, by landing a smaller event for them (the kick-off to the 2011 Google Science Fair) and delivering photos that they just loved. Word spread and they asked me if I would come shoot the inaugural Google Science Fair (an event for 15 global finalist) out in Mountain View, California at Google HQ.
  28. 28. Andrew Federman What do new photographers need to know? My advice for young photographers is to remember that it’s the photographs you actually deliver to your clients that set you apart - not how slick your website is, how many Instagram followers you have or how many blog hits you get. Marketing is important, but delivering photos that blow away your clients will generate a powerful word-of-mouth force. I think this is especially relevant when shooting for large companies who often consult internally for creative services recommendations.
  29. 29. Michael Zide A member of Moab fine art paper’s Master Photographer Program and an Ambassador for Manfrotto Distribution and LiveBooks web design, Michael Zide’s work is in private, corporate and museum collections. Commercial clients have included Sinar Bron View Cameras, Schneider Optics, Bogen Imaging, Newsweek, Fortune, Fine Homes and Silvershotz, along with other publications and companies. His work can be found at michaelzide.com Michael
  30. 30. How did you find your first client? My first job involved photographing clouds to be used as a background projection for a production of King Lear at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center in NYC. A friend, who was part of the set design team, hired me. This was a lovely gift to me as someone just beginning his career in landscape photography. Michael Zide
  31. 31. How did you get your best client? My best client/job situation occurred early in my career and was a tremendous learning experience. Hired as the photographer for a start-up weekly newspaper on Martha’s Vineyard, I learned how to tell a story in photographs and think quickly on my feet. As an editorial photographer, I gained facility in working with subjects to create relaxed and believable images, a big plus as I began to specialize in marketing photography for educational institutions and corporations. Michael Zide
  32. 32. What do new photographers need to know? Alfred Eisenstaedt, a famous Life Magazine photographer said, “It’s more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” People hire you because of the quality of your work, but will hire you again and again because they enjoy your attitude and manner both on and off the set. If you are passionate about the work you do and enjoy the challenges and rewards of fulfilling your client’s expectations, word will spread and your reputation will grow - both as an image maker and a human being. Michael Zide
  33. 33. Steve Hansen Steve is an L.A. based headshot photographer who has also had work published in The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times. His work can be found at SHansenPhotography.com Steve
  34. 34. How did you find your first client? My first client was actually a friend who needed headshots. He couldn’t afford some of the more pricey photographers and I needed clients so we struck a deal. How did you get your best client? I actually found my best client during a special promotion I did. He ended up getting a lot of work from my photos and now he shoots with me a couple times a year. He has been such a joy to work with that I continue to offer him my promotional rate each time. In return, he keeps sending new clients my way. Steve Hansen
  35. 35. What do new photographers need to know? Don’t be afraid to take a pay cut in the early stages of building your business and name. Yes, you may be worth a lot more, but having your work out there is invaluable to building a solid client list. Steve Hansen
  36. 36. Chris Marion Chris Marion is a freelance photographer based in Springfield, Massachusetts who has shot for the NBA and Sports Illustrated. His work can be found at ChrisMarion.com. Chris
  37. 37. How did you find your first client? I had an opportunity to meet the editor of a local sports magazine so I asked him if they had a need for additional photographers. He said yes and gave me what was most likely a test assignment. The assignment went well and it went on to become my first real sports job. Chris Marion
  38. 38. How did you get your best client? My best client is easily the NBA. My hometown of Springfield had an NBA development league and I was their team photographer for five years. Through that experience I was able to capture the attention of the NBA, which then led to freelancing opportunities with Sports Illustrated, as well as others. Chris Marion
  39. 39. What do new photographers need to know? When you’re just starting out, networking is crucial. A key word of advice that I always give aspiring photographers is to just ask. Ask whether someone needs photos or a photographer; a lot of times it’s the only way you’re going to get the job. The only catch here, is that you need to be prepared when they say, “yes”! Chris Marion
  40. 40. Are you ready to Go Pro? How Did You Go Pro? is an excerpt from the expanded, second edition of Going Pro: How to make money through your photography from Digital Photography School. Written by Kelly Kingman, a former photo editor with close to a decade’s experience working in New York City for consumer publications, Going Pro has sold over 8,000 copies. It features Kelly’s insider expertise as well as dozens of interviews with photographers and the people who hire them. The second edition includes practical, printable guides that help you build an online presence, craft an elevator pitch, protect your work with legal tools, master basic sales and marketing and much, much more. Visit http://digital-photography-school.com/learn for a complete list of available titles.