Whether you're doing it for fun, playing around with the idea, or are looking to become a full-fledged freelance photographer, there are endless opportunities to get your work out there and at its best quality. The matter is, how? Cameras are expensive. How do you make your photos different from everyone elses? Who can you reach out to, to work with? How will I get people to know I exist? Well my dear friends, the age of social media and the internet is at our disposal - and boy it can take you places. You just have to take the initiative - which is really what being a freelancer is all about. Take a look at my top 10 tips for for becoming a successful freelance photographer! So grab your camera and let's get started!
Define your style
This is by far one of the most important aspects of being a photographer. Of course, it will take practice and knowledge with your camera to discover this, but find what makes you different. Whether it be in the angles you shoot at, the subjects you shoot, the way you edit your photos, or your use of natural light - give yourself a staple that feels true to who you are and is relative to your essence as a human being and photographer. If people can tell that your photos are yours - you're heading in the right direction.
Scout your outdoor locations
Studios can be expensive, and so can lights, flash equipment, and the time spent setting up your shot will take a major chunk out of the slot you have in the space you booked. No matter where you're from there is no excuse to say that becoming an editorial, wedding, lifestyle, event, headshot, or whatever photographer you plan on being isn't in the cards. Whether you're from a small farm town in Wisconsin or the metropolis of Gotham City, you are going to have a butt load of backgrounds to choose from - whether it's a brick wall on a torn down building, a city park, or the front of a graffitied dumpster - the more you keep your eyes peeled for potential locations to take your clients to, and the more able you are to shoot in natural light - the less money you'll have to spend, the more unique your pictures will be, the exponential practice you'll get from shooting so much, and the higher quality your work will become.
Reach out to potential clients on Instagram
Whoever says instagram isn't a business tool is a foolish goonberry. No matter what kind of photographer you're looking to be, you can find people or businesses using hashtags related to your chosen subject. For example, if you're wanting to be a editorial photographer, you can search #Fashion, #Fallcollection, #model, whatever it may be and in your area, then direct message independent boutiques or individuals inquiring whether they wanted to do a shoot either for a minimal amount or for copy/credit. If you're a wedding photographer in Maine, look up #bridetobe, #mainewedding, #eastcoastwedding or whatever seems relevant to getting married on the East Coast and send inquiries asking whether they're looking for a photographer and to consider you if possible. Instagram is such a fantastic tool. Also, if you send out 40 DM's and only get one response, it's one response more and one more potential client than you would have if you didn't give it a go.
Be active and consistent on instagram and website.
Whether it's a blog, a photo from a month or a year ago, or something you just shot this morning, it's necessary to post at least once a day and to be consistent with your look and branching out to extended audiences every day. The more people see your work every day and see it done well - the more they will refer to you as a photographer and the potential of them wanting to work with you or share your content grows. This being said though - always post work you are proud of and to the caliber you are excited to share.
Study your craft everyday
It's relatively simple. If you learn one thing at least every day towards what you want to accomplish, the sooner you'll be able to move forward and apply what you've learned and become better at what you've intended. Whether it's watching youtube videos on how to adjust your aperture, how to shoot manually and working with the kelvin scale to tone your pictures, reading a blog on what brand and type of lens you should buy, or checking out a book on lighting and photography at the library, the more educated you will be regarding your work- the more credible you'll seem when meeting with new clients - and the more beautiful your art will become.
Invest in your craft
Invest in a class, an online class, a conference, a new photography book, a subscription to Digital Camera World, a new lense - whatever it may be - the money is always worth it. If you want to improve at what you do or what you want to do, investing in yourself is always your best option. Besides, if you don't invest in your work as a photographer, how will you expect your client to want to invest in you?
Let the world know you're a photographer! Whether it's on Facebook, Instagram like we were saying, putting casting calls on sites for models, or putting an ad up in a few of your favorite coffee shops - make it known that you are a photographer and that you are wanting to photograph things! If you just post pictures all the time and are not asking the universe for more subject matter to shoot by being blatantly upfront about it, people just might not approach you and your portfolio of work not already out there may dwindle. Also if you put on your instagram story, "Photographer looking to shoot Editorial sessions: DM if interested!" or on Facebook, "Hey Friends and Family, I'm a (insert subject style here) photographer looking for clients - if you know or have heard of anyone who's looking for a photographer and you like my stuff - send them my way for consideration! You rock. Thank you all so much!" - then attach a sample album of your work, you'll be surprised just how many people will respond!
BE organized and professional
Nobody wants to work with someone who's too laid back or doesn't have a schedule and plan to their shooting session or day. Discuss what your client is looking for, send some reference photos to verify you know what type and style of shoot it's going to be, and what you'll need. Depending on what you come up with in your conversation, you'll set a time that's relevant to what works best with either natural lighting, or with your schedules if it's a studio shoot. After you've confirmed a time and place, you set a calendar invite that's specific so neither party is confused. Be on time - always. It also helps for them to send you some outfit options before the shoot so you can help determine which look will work better - and then discuss makeup to match. This way you'll understand what you'll be shooting, where your client can change if you're working outdoors ( or invest in a pop-up changing room that will fit in your backpack), and how long you'll spend with each shot. It's also important to know where the nearest restrooms are to keep your client happy and comfortable. After the shoot is finished - send a google drive, dropbox, or shared link with the photos to your client to choose edits. Keep the folders organized and disclose that if they are to share your photos, to credit you in their description.
The more opportunity to get your work out there and to build legible credibility for yourself, the more people will know your name will want to work with you. If you submit your work to photography competitions or book compilations, you'll be able to gage what your work is worth to others and determine how you could improve. Also, if you get published or place within any of these competitions, you might win some money and could put those laurels on your website so potential and future clients know you're not kidding around. So please, submit your work to competitions that are relevant to your style and subject matter. You never know what could happen!
be yourself - a good and fun person
No one likes a poor sport, sour puss, or someone who's shelled up and awkward - so be sure to crank the tunes, make fun conversation, smile, laugh, and take your clients on an adventure that only you can give them. Getting in front of the camera is a vulnerable space for so many, and if who you're shooting doesn't feel comfortable and isn't having fun, the shoot isn't going to turn out well for either of you. So be happy, have fun, make killer and unique choices, deliver fantastic and moving shots that are only associated with who you are and what you create, and you'll be on your way to having friends and clients begging to shoot with you until the end of time!
Until Next Time!
Mary Gabrielle Strause