Landing your first client as a photographer can be challenging, and I did find a couple of challenges starting out. In a world where everyone owns a camera, especially on their phones, what is the guarantee that anyone will hire your services?
Are people really interested in professional photography or are they satisfied with what they have; the iPhones, the Samsungs, the Google Pixels, etc? Yes, people still need pro photography, though I do believe some niches are going to struggle in the near future, even today some struggle, but there are a few strategies that can help you get started in landing your first client. All you need is the first client and repeat that process of success. Here are some steps you can take:
- Build a portfolio: Build a portfolio that showcases your work and demonstrates your skills as a photographer. Make sure to include various images that showcase your range and abilities. Now, in this portfolio, only put in your best images and even more important is to put only images you’ll want to be hired for. If you don’t want to be hired for it, don’t add it in there. Have you got the point? You do not want to shoot for a sports team and then have it in your portfolio food photography.
2. Define your niche: Identify your niche or speciality, whether it be weddings, portraits, events, or product photography. This will help you market yourself more effectively and attract clients who are looking for your specific services. People hire specialists; people who are experts and good at what they do. Nobody needs another clueless photographer who does not understand a basic thing such as the exposure triangle. Landing your first client is not necessarily knowing and understanding everything about the business, first, it is about your craft and nothing else. your craft comes first and then you learn about business. You want to have a craft to market.
3. Offer your services to friends and family: Offer to take photos for friends and family, or offer your services for free to local charities or community organizations. This will help you build your portfolio and gain experience. In other words, shoot for free. Do not disdain shooting for free. your first portfolio is not going to be filled with images people paid you for. They’re mostly going to be free shots. Create the best.
4. Utilize social media: Use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to showcase your work, connect with potential clients, and engage with other photographers and industry professionals. In simple terms, be visible. We desire and purchase what we can see.
5. Network with other photographers: Attend local photography meetups, join online photography groups, and connect with other photographers in your area. This can help you learn from others, gain inspiration, and potentially receive referrals.
6. Create a website: Create a professional website that showcases your work, services, and contact information. This will make it easier for potential clients to find and contact you. Now, this is not the most necessary thing on the list. you don’t always NEED a website. I understand its importance, but in an age like this, you want to find a place where there’s already traffic and then you share your art. That’s the smart way. As you grow in your craft and business, build a website to look even more professional. Everyone loves a piece of professionalism.
7. Offer a promotional deal only when necessary: Offer a promotional deal, such as a discounted rate or a free service, to attract potential clients and encourage them to take a chance on you.
My first client paid me peanuts, but it was a start. I was hired because I owned a camera, that was it, nothing else. If I remember today, it hurts, at the time I had no portfolio and it was just about a month in photography. I did a bad job and never got to work with that client anymore. My advice is, don’t be in a rush to land gigs but be patient, labour in obscurity and work like a dog until you reach where you want to, and land that first client. No shortcuts, just hard work.
Remember, landing your first client as a photographer may take time and effort, but with persistence and dedication, you can build a successful career in photography.