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Thread started 28 May 2015 (Thursday) 18:30
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How do you build a portfolio when you have no prospective clients?

 
ChunkyDA
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May 31, 2015 19:44 |  #16

This is really interesting to me. What exactly did you do to "start my business"?


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the ­ flying ­ moose
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May 31, 2015 23:03 |  #17

ChunkyDA wrote in post #17578772 (external link)
This is really interesting to me. What exactly did you do to "start my business"?

Step #1 - Buy Camera
Step #2 - Start business
Step #3 - ?????
Step #4 - Profit




  
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seanlockephotography
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Jun 01, 2015 05:58 |  #18

Lianne.L wrote in post #17575212 (external link)
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!

It doesn't sound like you have a "business". It sounds like you're someone with a camera who thinks it's easy to go out and get people to give you money. "Business" is hard. As others said, you need to spend money to make money. You asked about advertising here:https://photography-on-the.net …showthread.php?​p=17575229 , but you can't spend $50 to hire a model for an hour? If you've taken photography classes, you should have work from those you can put up. If not, just go out and take pictures of things and learn how your camera works in any situation. It doesn't have to be people. Walk around and shoot. Put a doll on a bench and figure it out.




  
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Jun 01, 2015 10:14 |  #19

Lianne.L wrote in post #17575212 (external link)
I just started my photography business and I'm in a bit of a slump...

With all due respect, doesn't a "slump" imply that things were previously better? Sounds like you've just hung the shingle.

More than one successful photo business started just that way. Good luck with it.


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Jun 01, 2015 16:35 |  #20

ChunkyDA wrote in post #17578772 (external link)
This is really interesting to me. What exactly did you do to "start my business"?

I know it I am not the person originally asked but I can tell you how I am getting mine going (currently 3 weddings booked this summer).

1. Bought a camera and shot a bunch of things. Just walked around and sot street but also some landscapes. Mostly I would take photos my family - Christmas card shots as well as any other holiday or occasion where they would be dressed up. When showing photos to your clients they do not know if you know the subjects personally or not.

2. Got lucky and found a guy to second shoot for. I would check Craigslist and the Help wanted section on this site and others in my area to see if anyone needed help. I found a guy who needed more of the "lugging gear around" type help but it got me my first 10 or so shots for my wedding portfolio.

3. Two separate friends of mine each got engaged. I asked to do their engagement photos and they were OK with it because we could always redo them or they could get a "real" photographer if I sucked that bad.

4. All of my friends know I am trying to get my photo business started. They have all seen my photos because they follow me on facebook. The 3 weddings I have booked this summer were all booked the same way: a friend of a friend was looking for a cheap wedding photographer. That friend thought of me and got us in touch. They then booked me based on my portfolio as shot in 1 - 3 above.

I am no where near doing this full time yet but I did zero marketing this year and have 3 weddings. I hope with a little more time to devote to it this year I can book 10 weddings for next season.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jun 01, 2015 17:23 |  #21

fwiw, i did three or four weddings in the 90's and at no point did i even float the idea of "being in business" to my friends or seek wedding jobs out in any way. Those three didn't include being a second for a few.

taking pictures for money and being in business are two separate goals that require two separate mind, and skill sets.


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Jun 03, 2015 13:05 |  #22

OP, your question [well, how you formulate things] looks really like a troll - such blunt-ish it is. Thing is, I just cannot imagine how a person could start a business without any experience whatsoever. Even if your husband is, as you say here, "a complete tight wad cheap skate", it does look like he has good reasons not to invest into hiring models etc.

Did you asked your friends to pose, or did they ask you? What was the feedback [constructive, not "omg, how pretty"]? Have you put any of your work in some forums for a critique? I found only one image of your over here in POTN and that's not the level for what you can possibly ask money :/ Also, how's your retouching skills - nowadays it's an essential skill for any photographer.

What equipment do you have and can you use it? Of course, not a camera, but a photographer makes a good image, but to be able to do a payed work, you have to know how to work with off-camera flash [-es].

I am truly sorry, if I sound harsh here, but it really sounds you need a reality check here. Maybe I've written so much because I myself now starting move things around business wise, but even with good retouch skills, couple personal exhibitions and knowledge about lighting I am threading lightly and doing this only as a part time thing while my main income is retouching in 9-18 job four days a week.


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Jun 22, 2015 01:58 |  #23

A portfolio that is 90% your kids isn't a portfolio; its an album of your kids.

Diversify, hire models, photograph friends/family, etc.

A photography business is 90% hustle and 10% taking pictures.


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Jun 22, 2015 12:15 |  #24

panicatnabisco wrote in post #17606057 (external link)
A portfolio that is 90% your kids isn't a portfolio; its an album of your kids.

I would disagree - as long as you photograph your kids in many different styles/situations. Same with family. If you can pose your family what difference is it if you pose someone else's? If you can light your own new born, why can't you light someone else's?

If I was looking at a photographer's portfolio I don't care who is in it - I look at the content of the photos. However, if the portfolio is of from one sitting I would be wary that the photographer couldn't continuously replicate the work and ask about it. But if the photos were from several clearly different shoots I would trust them.


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Jun 22, 2015 12:24 |  #25

benji25 wrote in post #17606528 (external link)
I would disagree - as long as you photograph your kids in many different styles/situations. Same with family. If you can pose your family what difference is it if you pose someone else's? If you can light your own new born, why can't you light someone else's?

If I was looking at a photographer's portfolio I don't care who is in it - I look at the content of the photos. However, if the portfolio is of from one sitting I would be wary that the photographer couldn't continuously replicate the work and ask about it. But if the photos were from several clearly different shoots I would trust them.

Thing is, most people are not you. And most people are not looking for just mastery of technique but for credibility as well –credibility as in: how many others have trusted this photographer? The larger the number of other clients, the more convinced they are that you're up to snuff. Shewing the same subjects over and over and over and over—matters not if they're in different poses, backgrounds or states of mind—tells them: 'I have no real clients: you'll be my first test subject giving me money to take your pics'.


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Jun 22, 2015 12:50 |  #26

Alveric wrote in post #17606538 (external link)
Shewing the same subjects over and over and over and over—matters not if they're in different poses, backgrounds or states of mind—tells them: 'I have no real clients: you'll be my first test subject giving me money to take your pics'.

Yep. It's probably better to have a small portfolio than a bigger one with the same subjects in various scenes. There is no shame in letting people know that you are just starting (as long as your work doesn't look like you just started doing snapshots with the camera you just got for Christmas).

Definitely find ways to do some pro bono work. There are plenty of charities that would (probably) love to have some free help in exchange for some images that you can use. Likewise for local amateur theater. Offer to do some headshots of the actors.

As much of a hot button as the "discount" photographer thing is, there is still value in getting some low-paying work. Just remember that the industry is sensitive to the bottom feeders. If you are going in to low ball others, you will not succeed. If you are setting a temporary "this is a limited time special because I'm building my portfolio" price (with a definite end point), you can more easily justify a brief period of low or no cost photos.

If nothing else, leverage the social media and see if you get any bites.

Above all, even if you are doing "free" work (it's actually not free since there is a value exchange), remember to do your best work. Don't slack off because you're not getting paid cash money. Work hard and make an impression. A good reputation will help carry you in the long run.


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ceegee
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Jun 22, 2015 14:08 |  #27

Some suggestions:

1. Set up a Facebook page where people can go to see your photos. Send invitations asking everyone you know to "like" your page, and tell them that, at the end of the month, you're going to do a random draw for a free portrait session among the people who "liked" you.

2. Give photo sessions free to friends or family at special events (engagements, parties, graduations, etc.).

3. Identify local charity events and offer to run a photo booth for them. Give out your business cards to people who use the service. Use the photos in your portfolio.

4. Look for a craft fair or local event at which you can set up a booth and do portraits on site, for a small fee. It's not hard: all you need is a couple of off-camera lights plus a simple background. Offer accessories as well, if you like. Either print on site or send files by e-mail. Keep your prices reasonable.

5. Contact local kids' sports teams and offer to do portrait sessions. Personal contacts work best here, but cold calls might work too.

6. Advertise your portrait photography services in local newspapers.

7. Approach local seniors' homes and ask if you can offer mini portrait sessions (15 minutes) to residents and their families. Print flyers and distribute them to residents. Display a schedule on the notice board where they can claim time slots by writing in their names. Set up a simple studio in the common area on the appointed day. Give customers a CD of their best shots. Keep your prices reasonable.

I could list dozens more ideas: there's an endless supply of potential customers out there, but they're not going to come to you: you have to go to them. If you're serious about becoming a business, you have to get yourself out there, make contacts and sell your photography skills. If you're not comfortable doing that, it's going to be hard for you to run a service business. If you don't know how to go about it, take a marketing course at your local college or university.

Good luck! As others have said, selling and marketing are key to this type of business!


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Jun 22, 2015 14:18 |  #28

Lianne.L wrote in post #17575212 (external link)
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!

I don't quite see how you think you have a business if you have only photographed 2 friends........ I think someone needs to give you a shake and wake you up...sorry if this seems harsh but you need a reality check.


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cliousa
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Jun 25, 2015 13:57 |  #29

One way to do it is to offer discounts on the type of sessions you are trying to build portfolio for. Try your friends first, your neighbors, etc.

The important thing is to set this up as discounted session, so later you can raise the price easily. May be for a super cute model you can do TFP even. Work on your skills to make sure you are right, as once you have real clients you need to be efficient and quick.

Hope that helps.


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gonzogolf
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Jun 25, 2015 17:06 |  #30

Discounts are for people that have rates and a business. Shoot for free, pay models when you are ready. You need diversity in your portfolio and honestly you need attractive people. If you look at the comments here mediocre photos of attractive people get more response than well executed photos of unattractive or plain folks. And we should know better.

I said it earlier but it bears repeating. If you can't network to the point where you can find people to practice on at no cost, how do you expect to find people to sell your work to?




  
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