I love receiving messages from my readers! Today I want to share this kind email of Franziska, she is a talented photography student but like all the starting photographers out there, she has some trouble finding clients and stylists to work with. I was able to share her story to help all other photography students with the same questions! I”ll tell you what worked for me, but I know it is important to discover what works the best for you.
I am a photographer student from germany actually graduating this year. I follow your gorgeous work for some years and LOVE IT. I wanted to say thank you for all the content and inspiration you are putting out there!
I would love to work as a fashion photographer but its so hard getting my foot into the door. Most stylist are just willing to work with me if I am offering them a styling letter (which is hard to get)… and I am not really sure how to approach the whole thing and how to get clients. Is it the best way to do a lot of free work? Do you have any advice for me?
At the moment I am only shooting weddings but I would love to shoot editorial work and commercials for lifestyle and fashion clients.
Wish you all the best!
Thanks for your compliments and good questions!
I know it’s easier for stylists to work with a styling letter because they are able to rent better brands/clothes at PR agencies instead of shopping all the clothes at the stores. Maybe you can find stylists that are on the same level as you, so you can grow together. I hope they are able to rent clothes from brands they know or they buy the clothes at the stores and return it after the shoot. I noticed it is so important to find team members with the same style and mind set, so you are all able to help each other. Not only to create beautiful editorials togethers for your portfolio’s, but also to introduce each other to clients. I found all my favorite team members on Social Media or via via.
By ‘free work’ I don’t mean working for a client for free. But working with a creative team to create beautiful editorials to extend your portfolio without earning any money. Creating a lot of free work is important to discover your own style and to create a interesting portfolio for your future clients. Sometimes people don’t understand why we are working for free, but we just do what we love! The best thing about this kind of shoots is that you are able to create what you want, because there is no client on set to tell you what to do.
Collect your clients
I always create a list on my computer with the clients I would love to work with. Once a month I write these brands/stores/designers an email where I tell them what I do and about the possibilities for a collaboration together. I discover new brands every month on Instagram, by walking in the shopping streets and by reading other blogs and websites.
Your ideal client
Write down what your ideal client would look like. Maybe you like to shoot for fashion designers, web shops or you want to open a portrait studio where you make beautiful portraits of all kinds of people or your prefer weddings. The next step is to find out where they are located and how to reach them, write a good and personal email or give them a call and follow them on social media. Tell or write them who you are but especially what you can do for them. People are more interested to hear what is in it for them, so don’t make your talk about yourself too long. If they don’t have a job for you the first time, they will remember your name next time they are searching for a photographer. Make sure your website is up-to-date and update your social media daily or a few times a week with new work or a personal update.
Work with good models
A model can make or break your photos! I’m very picky when I have to choose my models. I prefer models who have something special, because in my opinion ‘just beautiful’ models are a little boring. That was something that I discovered while doing a lot of photoshoots. I always work with agency signed models. You can send an email to the agency with a link to your website together with a little introduction about yourself and ask for models who need to extend their portfolio as well. You are able to work with them for free, because they are very happy with your good pictures!
Your network is #1
The most important thing in photography is your network. I even think your network is more important than your photography skills. Of course you need to be a good photographer, but an amazing portfolio without knowing anybody in the industry makes it very hard to be a working professional. I notice my network is still growing and besides networking in real life Instagram, Facebook and Youtube are a great way to get noticed by the right people (read: future clients). Also be kind to other photographers and ask them about their experience, I’m sure all photographers have the same doubts. And maybe when they are not able to do a job, they will give your name and the job is for you. I receive a lot of emails from clients who start like this: ‘Lisa told us your name and (…)’and then I’ve never met Lisa, but she is a follower on Instagram or I met her once or something else. So your network is bigger than you first think!
Get out there
When I started my photography website and my Flickr.com account when I was 15 years old it was all very anonymous. I thought it was all about the photos but a few years later I discovered that the person behind the ‘brand’ makes it even more personal. When I started to see my photography as a business and a brand, it started to grow. Don’t be afraid to show yourself or tell a little bit more about your love for photography in the about page on your website or on your social media channels. Maybe you don’t understand why this can be important to find paid jobs, but the client is hiring you for a big job and a long day and they want to know who you are, or what you look like (are you friendly and nice to work with all day?) and what your style is.
photography: Liselotte Fleur