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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 28 May 2015 (Thursday) 18:30
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How do you build a portfolio when you have no prospective clients?

 
Lianne.L
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May 28, 2015 18:30 |  #1

I just started my photography business and I'm in a bit of a slump. I've had two friends so far let me take pictures of them and their children. My family and my husband's family all live in other states. I have mentioned my business to a lot of people but nobody has really given much interest in getting portraits done. My portfolio is about 90% my own kids. haha. Anyone have any ideas to get me going? Thanks!




  
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the ­ flying ­ moose
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May 28, 2015 19:38 |  #2

What is your target market? Are you wanting to do family sessions? Are you wanting to do weddings? Are you wanting commercial work? If you don't know what you want to do then you should figure it out as soon as you can so you can focus your efforts on that genre or genres.

Figure out what you want to do and then you can work on how to get your name out there. For example, the lady who we did prenatal classes with found out I did photography. She asked if I was interested in doing maternity photos and then doing the photos shortly after the birth. She said she had a lot of ladies looking for those photos but didn't know where to look. If that is something I was interested in, I could have easily gotten 10 families in 2 months she said.

Your kids probably have friends. Contact their parents and ask if you can take their photos for free in order to build up your portfolio and in return give them and print or two. Depending on how old your kids are, mommy and baby groups are a good place to go too. Have business cards to hand out. Have a website or at least a decent Facebook page with examples of your best work.

People don't know who you are and clients don't know how to find you. Figure out the genre you want to focus on and go find the clients.




  
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Alveric
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May 28, 2015 20:27 |  #3
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Sometimes you just have to pay for models.

In my case, I built a portfolio by doing photography for an advertorial magazine for draconian rates, but I wouldn't recommend this approach as it only devalues the profession and habituates clients to get work on the cheap.


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gonzogolf
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May 28, 2015 20:38 |  #4

If you dont have a large enough network of friends to shoot, you might ask what that says anout your prospects turning pro. Being a great photographer is only half the battle. The rest is networking and getting in front of people. In short, if you cant give it away, how do you expect to sell it?




  
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Dan ­ Marchant
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May 28, 2015 21:03 |  #5

You need a decent portfolio to get clients.... you need clients to get a decent portfolio. The best way out of this catch 22 situation is to hire some models to shoot for your portfolio.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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May 28, 2015 21:35 |  #6

In your position I'd consider offering to pay people to shoot them. At the end of the day a "free" shoot isn't actually "free" to them as it costs them their time. As you have little by way of work other than family they are spending their time to get an unknown result. After you've done a few like that you'll at least have something to set expectations with others and give them and incentive to give up their time for you.

Also, I personally wouldn't advertise or call yourself a business until you actually have a product you know you can offer. Shots of family in that regard don't count... it is easy to have family being comfortable around you with a camera, that changes when you throw complete strangers into the mix.


Peter

  
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Lianne.L
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May 28, 2015 21:58 |  #7

To answer The Flying Moose. I am doing portrait photography. Babies children and families. Paying models would be out of the question considering my husband is a complete tight wad cheap skate and would downright forbid me to pay anyone anything Lol. I just made plans to visit family next weekend, and my sisters said they would help out. Thanks for the advice!




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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May 28, 2015 22:02 as a reply to  @ Lianne.L's post |  #8

Building a business requires investment. A portfolio is effectively creating marketing material. If you're serious about being a business you are going to need money for marketing.


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the ­ flying ­ moose
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May 28, 2015 22:13 |  #9

Lianne.L wrote in post #17575399 (external link)
To answer The Flying Moose. I am doing portrait photography. Babies children and families. Paying models would be out of the question considering my husband is a complete tight wad cheap skate and would downright forbid me to pay anyone anything Lol. I just made plans to visit family next weekend, and my sisters said they would help out. Thanks for the advice!

You have to spend money to make money. Its the same with almost every other business and photography is no exception. You need to spend money to market yourself. You don't spend any money on marketing or building your portfolio then you will not have anyone to take photos of because no one will know you are even out there. You could be the best baby/family photographer in the world but that means nothing if no one knows who/where you are and is booking you.

At least you need a place where people can see your work, whether its a Facebook page or an actual website. You need a way for people to be able to contact you as well. Email is free so start up an email account that uses your business name. No one wants to book photos from someone who uses an email address such a metallvr69 @ hotmail . com.




  
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nathancarter
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May 29, 2015 12:35 |  #10

There's an endless supply of people looking for free photography on Craigslist. Advertise there; it's free to post.

Also, if you can successfully deal with the "clients" who go looking for free stuff on Craigslist, you'll be prepared to deal with anyone.


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sspellman
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May 29, 2015 14:10 |  #11

You are in for a painful and certain failure if you think that equipment is the only investment you need to make in a photography business. You should expand your circle of friends and family to build your portfolio. After that, Facebook social media and Craigslist are a path towards working with new clients.


ScottSpellmanMedia.com [photography]

  
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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May 30, 2015 14:02 |  #12

In photography, you don't start business, business starts you!

Okay, that's pretty meaningless bit like others have said you can't expect to just hang your shingle and things get going. If you can set some realistic goals with the financials outlined, maybe your tight wad husband will loosen the purse strings?

I'm taking a couple of aftenoons a week to network and meet new people. I have printed a small pack of samples and am using that with a business card as a leave behind. My website is getting up to date and the administrative side of the business is pretty sound. There are probably a whole pile of thing you have yet to do outside of actually taking pics, while you build your portfolio make sure all the other pieces are in place. How's your invoicing system? Do you have your contracts in order? How do you back up your images? ... And so on.

You might have to check your pride and just basically beg for work. If you discount your stuff make sure the full price is shown on the invoice, doing so will set a real and sustainable value for your work.


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NBEast
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May 30, 2015 17:00 |  #13

Portfolios that have the same subjects over and over say "I haven't done this enough".

If you're a people person, it shouldn't be too hard to just go somewhere relaxed with people and "recruit random strangers". Explain to them that you're building a portfolio and the photos they'll get from it should be pretty good for their 15 minutes of posing.


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texkam
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May 30, 2015 19:11 |  #14

Pro bono. Military, law enforcement, cancer patients, etc. Use your talent to thank or help out someone else.




  
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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May 30, 2015 19:23 |  #15

^ yes.


PSA: The above post may contain sarcasm, reply at your own risk | Not in gear database: Auto Sears 50mm 2.0 / 3x CL-360, Nikon SB-28, SunPak auto 322 D, Minolta 20

  
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