This is a constant question that I hear.
“Tristan, there are SO many other photographers…. how can I stand out and get noticed?” or, “The market is so over saturated that I cannot be seen.“
Yes, there are a million photographers. Anyone with a camera phone is a photographer these days.. and it can make you feel so defeated and feel like you won’t be able to succeed in the industry. Just because there are several photographers doesn’t mean you can’t book your own clients and build a successful business.
So how can you ensure you will get noticed and build that clientele that you’re so badly longing for?
It’s not too difficult. Stand out. Create a personal brand that makes you… well… YOU!
Looking at the photographers who are successful, you see some common things among them all. They kept going. They worked on their aesthetic, they kept going when people said they couldn’t do it. They kept learning, and figuring what worked and didn’t work in their business and guess what? THEY DIVIDED AND CONQUERED AND KEPT GOING.
They believed in themselves and their craft. Which really, is all you can do.
If you want to stand out, you need to provide a service that Sally down the road cannot replicate. You need to give great customer service. Just because you’re talented and can photograph doesn’t mean you know how to run a business. Sometimes this takes a bit of self reflection. If you are having issues selling yourself, go to the local book store and get marketing books.. I cannot tell you how many hours I’ve spent watching videos and reading about business and marketing. It’s changed the dynamic of my business. With age definitely comes wisdom.
I personally have been shooting since I was 15… do you believe I was then where I am now? Heck no. I’m 27.. the dynamic is completely different than it was when I was a teenager who didn’t know a thing about business.
Now before I go on, please hear me out. When I talk about “Sally” in our next part, this isn’t to be sideways in any type of way. This is simply to explain my point and how you can stand out from a saturated market.
Okay, here we goooooo…..
It’s easy for Sally to charge $25 when starting out and get the business you think you’re wanting.. BUT, look at how their business is being ran.. do they have a team? hair? makeup? styling? can they edit like you can or your retoucher can? do they deliver a product within a few days if not a few hours? how many photos is this client receiving? do they have a logo? a color scheme? a consistent style? are they ACTUALLY charging people or pretending they’re making money? Do they pay their taxes? Are they an LLC? Is their customer experience above and beyond? Do they deliver photos on CD, USB, digital albums, or carrier pigeon? haha (like that I did there?)
A lot of the time people are looking for a deal, but you have to remind yourself that these people are not always your “dream” client. However, you can teach and educate potential clients in a fun, positive and creative way to show them that they want to work with you and get more out of their images if they wish to work with you.
The client you are here to serve is your dream client. Think of this person, who they are, and how you can deliver an over the top product and service for them.
Make a style that stands out from everyone else. If everyone is doing moody images, why not do bright and whimsy images or vise versa? See a lot of dark photography? Do colorful instead. If this is simply to get clients thats not what I’m saying. You need to love what you are doing and producing, but going back to that dream audience, you need to know who you are catering to and focus on them.
Sally might be over editing 300 images for $25 blurring their skin and adding a dark vignette to her images, where you take your time and keep attention to details in the 25 images you give producing a very well thought out detailed, magazine quality image. However if sally is providing a great customer experience from her business education she has received, she might be winning over the clients even though her work may not be on your level. Keep reminding yourself… if you work hard and keep bettering yourself. ..They. Will. Come.
Your styling can be candid, posed, a mixture, fun, serious.. BUT do you know what is flattering on a customer who has a different body type from another? These are things that can make or break your portraits. These are things to be mindful of that Sally probably isn’t thinking about. Do you know how to use lighting? Do you have the subject in front of the light or behind? Are you drowning out detail with too much light or having issues putting enough light where you want it to go? Are you a master at lighting? This also makes a difference in your styling.
On your instagram, why not share these tips with your clients! Show them what you do that is different and stands out. This can impress them and show them that you know what you’re talking about and remind them you can make them look their best!
A few things to think about… is your Niche. What is your Niche? Are you catering to 1 person or 20 people? My business has taken a lot longer because I shoot a little bit of everything.. its easy to be popular when you do one thing and do it well. It’s harder being a jack of all trades and a master at none. Lets be real.
If you want to shoot newborns, shoot newborns. If you want to shoot band photos, shoot band photos. You can do other things, but advertise yourself in what you love doing most. It’s confusing for a baby photographer to be a concert photographer, that is confusing to your client. Not saying you cannot be both, however you want to choose one and really promote that one thing it can really elevate your clientele. You can photograph several things, and still niche down. You can be a Wedding photographer and still shoot families, children, and business. Think of the services you wish to provide.
A huge way to gain a following is simply showing up. Who are you? Do you ever come on to social media to say hello? If not, I suggest doing a few shoots of yourself.. videos and photos showing who you are. This helps people to see a face with a personality and get to know and love you for who you are and not just your work!
Choose colors and fonts that go with your brand. When people see your logo, they remember these things. They will be like, OH HEY.. I’ve seen that logo or name before! This is an awesome way to build brand recognition and keep yourself in peoples minds.
You cannot ride off of your images. There are so many photographers now a days. These successful photographers have built a brand. A logo. A style. A community. They help their clients. They teach and grow with them. Coming from that 15 year old photographer I once was, photography college didn’t exactly teach me these industry standard things. I had to learn them for myself.
You need to learn business and utilize it to help boost your career and make you stand out from other competitors. You need to know editing, and good customer service. You need to be delivering images in a timely manor. I advise contracts, paying taxes, getting an LLC when you can.. Get a website, be on all social media, blog, network in your town. Post every time you do a shoot. These are things that prove you’re the real deal, mean business and that people want to work with you and you want to work with them, which in return gets you even more clients!