How to Become a Better Professional Photographer

By Kyra Chambers •  Updated: 06/12/20 •  8 min read

Being a professional photographer is an intensely competitive business.

Especially with the introduction of powerful new phones and cameras.

They’re making it easier than ever for non-professionals to take their own photos.

But even with the arrival of new technology and more powerful smartphones, there’s still a need for professional photographers.

Here’s what you need to know about how to become a better photographer and get more photography clients.

That way you can soar ahead of the competition.

How to Become a Better Professional Photographer

Tap Into Your Local Community

As a photographer, your local community is where it’s at.

Where you live and hang out is going to be one of your best sources not just for customers, but for repeat customers as well.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to capture a wider market share from communities that’re farther away.

But if you want to become a better photographer, it starts with locking down or becoming known in your hometown.

Stay active within your community.

And aim to become one of the top photographers’ in your hometown.

Get involved and see what people need.

Make it your business to know who is getting married and when. That way you can capitalize on big events like weddings and more high paying gigs.

Every photographer should know weddings and events are big business. Just follow the money.

You can make good money doing these events and others.

For example, graduations are another other huge event opportunity.

Every town with an elementary all the way up to high school = great opportunities for you to cash in.

And help families and people in your community capture lifetime memories.

What proud parent wouldn’t want to capture the memories of their kid’s graduation. Great photos will always stand the test of time.

The same goes for college towns. College and university graduations are a big deal .

You can and should take advantage of these events. And if you’re a savvy enough photographer, you’ll get the gig.

Local Photographer

But… you’ll need to really pay attention to your local community.

Remember key event dates.

Be talkative and stay in the know. Start by getting in contact with the families who’ll be holding weddings, graduations, etc.

Once you’re in with the parents, are good at your craft, and offer tremendous value, you’re golden.

Parents become grandparents.

And their kids will eventually have more kids, so if you’re lucky, you can keep the cycle going. Become their family photographer.

Which is why it’s so important to stay involved in your local community as a photographer.

Start by getting a calendar and write the dates of all the major events that’ll require a professional photographer such as yourself.

Make Sure Your Portfolio and Skills are Up to Par

Sometimes to gain new clientele you have to show off every now and then.

Brag about yourself in the humblest way possible when talking to others about your photography.

Pull out your phone and show them some of your best work. This is when having an organized portfolio or album on your phone comes in handy.

And if you haven’t already, make yourself an album on your phone.

Fill it with your best pictures so when the topic comes up in the conversation, you’re prepared.

And if you don’t think your photography is good enough, you’ll need to practice more.

Practice until you’re confident enough to talk to strangers about what you can do for them.

I hate to say it, but this would be the best time to do some free photoshoots. Don’t think of it as free work though!

Think of it as shooting to better your craft. You’re sharpening your skills.

Putting in your 10,000 hours and paying your dues.

You’re not shooting just to shoot. You’re shooting to build your portfolio, to show to potential clients, to build trust which will lead to a booked session.

And remember, we all started off as beginners at one point.

Becoming a professional photographer will take consistent effort, time, and patience.

Use Traditional Networking Strategies, They Still Work for Photographers

When someone mentions networking, today most people’s minds race straight to social media.

But there’s still value in traditional marketing channels as well.

Start by attending events at your local Chamber of Commerce in all the towns you’d like to call your territory.

And don’t forget about all the opportunities that come with attending professional conventions.

These events might be hard to find now but they’re worth looking into.

Some photographers neglect professional conventions, even before everything changed. They assume it’s just a gathering of their competitors.

But, professional photography meetups can be one of your best bets for finding new customers. Even though many of em’ are shut down right now.

If and when things get back to normal, check one out.

And don’t be afraid to link up with more experienced photographers.

I’m sure they’d be more than willing to help out someone new like yourself.

You can also learn a lot about the art of professional photography itself.

When attending professional events you’ll also be put into direct contact with clients who are attending to scope out the local talent.

When approaching these potential clients, be prepared to negotiate.

Photographers who attend these events and negotiate their services in exchange for services or access and referrals to others their network can benefit tremendously.

Seize More Opportunities with Social Media

Social media is all the rage these days.

And for good reason, it has enormous potential.

It’s about more than taking selfies.

Social media sites can lead to many new business opportunities as a professional photographer.

Your photography business can take off from the exposure you and word of mouth recommendations you can get.

So start using them.

Learn How to Sell and Market Yourself as a Photographer

Everyday someone is trying to sell you something.

You might not notice it. But sales pitches are all over the place. From TV commercials to YouTube and Facebook ads, promos on the radio, and more.

Someone is ALWAYS pitching and trying to sell something to you.

And you should be too!

Being an independent photographer in today’s market is tough. So take advantage of a little marketing and self-promotion.

As an independent photographer, you should be allocating a little time each and every day to marketing your business.

And there are a number of highly effective ways to market your photography business.

First, look into any local agencies and firms that can market your photography business.

The next step is to start using a proven online method of marketing like Google AdWords, Facebook & Instagram ads, and even paying for promos and referrals.

You can even try offering incentives on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Marketing on the many different social media platforms work.

And when you’re ready and have the money to invest and take things to the next level, pour some money into paid advertising on social media and Google.

Photographer

Take Care of Your Old Photography Clients

For anyone first starting out in the photography business, getting your first few clients is an exciting experience.

But don’t let the excitement fade away after you’ve done your first few jobs for them.

Once you get a client, your focus should be on keeping them for as long as possible.

Too many photographers today do a job once and completely forget about the client immediately afterward.

If you take care of your old clients, they’ll take care of you and reward your hard work with repeat business.

Create a Blog

Once you have enough web traffic coming to your site, you should start and maintain a blog about your photography.

You can use the blog to showcase your work as you go along. And also to capture customers from different niches.

When first starting out you should run your blog on your own.

But once you start getting enough clients to keep you busy, don’t hesitate to take advantage of other writers and feature guest posts on your blog.

Keep Building Your Brand and Don’t Lose Yourself

Achieving success is one thing, sustaining it is another.

Once you’ve achieved success, be sure not to throw it all away by going away from the very things that helped you get off the ground in the first place.

In the photography business, building a unique personal brand is essential.

It’s also essential you stay true to that brand and continue to provide the same quality of services.

Just like the services you first provided when you were a hungry creative photographer in the beginning.

And if you’re just starting out or looking to rebrand, get yourself a copy of The Business Strategy Workbook.

It’ll save you time and simplify your business plan, branding, marketing, and help you move forward as a photographer.

Kyra Chambers

Kyra Chambers, also known as Kyra The Creative is a Photographer, Artist, and Multi-media Designer. She's been taking pictures since 2016. She loves to capture memories for families and impactful images for professionals.

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