Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients: Part Four, Staying Connected

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(NOTE)
If you are just coming into this series, I highly suggest you start at Part One, and then do Part Two and Part Three before starting Part Four. Links for all of them are inside the protected area, and you can access them easily.

A brilliant portfolio won’t get you work if no one sees it.
A full set of Channels and SubChannels means nothing if you have not implemented a plan to get the work.
Having an amazing list of possible clients is worthless if you are not contacting and showing and sharing your work with that list of clients.

This morning before I sent out this week’s In The Frame to subscribers, I received an email from Chris Brogan, someone I follow and admire. In it he asks if we are the “Sharpest Saw in the Shed?”

And we would all like to consider ourselves the sharpest around, right?

Then he pointed out the that sharpest tool in the shed is the one that is NOT working, or being used. It just sits there retaining its sharpness… and if that is the goal, then great. But the goal of a sharp saw is to cut wood, trim trees, build things.

So it is time to get dirty, so to speak. To take all that we know and have listed out and make a plan for getting in front of the clients we want.

It wont be easy – did you expect it to be?
It wont happen overnight.
It wont happen without extreme effort and deep commitment.
It may get messy.

But it is absolutely vital to your growth and health as a commercial artist with a camera.

No selling on this post. While this program is being finished up, I will be working on some marketing for it as well. I didn’t want this mini-program to be a huge selly-sell. It is designed to be real, positive, and constructive teaching on what you can do NOW to increase your viability in this great business. More will come later this summer. I expect the program to be finished around the end of July or first of August.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next two. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

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Irene Liebler and Sandy Connolly: Starting the Journey

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Irene Liebler was one of the Project 52 members from a few years ago. She did the course twice, I believe and rarely missed an assignment. She also rarely did an image that we were not blown away by. Irene is a consummate artist, and a painstaking perfectionist when it comes to making the image she sees in her head.

She is also a commercial photographer in a small town near Hartford, Connecticut.

Her partner, Sandy Connolly is also a photographer who also does business development and produces many of the shots they do. Together they are the “Hurricans”… you just have to think about that one… heh. And they do their work together at Super Nine Studios.

Links:
Super Nine Studios Website
Super Nine Studios Facebook Page
Twitter
G+
Blog

As you know, the world of commercial photography runs the gamut from highly creative approaches to providing the client with exactly what they want. Irene and Sandy do just that – providing a creative pallet when needed, but also capable of creating the working commercial photograph when it is appropriate.

Some examples of the work Irene and Sandy create at Super Nine Studios, Connecticut.

A video interview we did for you is here, and Irene and Sandy discuss their unique working arrangements, how they got started, what is happening now and plans for growth in the coming months/years. They also share a few of their assignments with you as well as provide a few tips for those just getting started.

 

We will be presenting more of the Project 52 members who have successfully made the jump into professional commercial photography all month.

I am doing Project 52 one more time; I call it the “No Fear” edition and enrollment is now until the end of June, or we get 100 students whichever comes first. (At this point, registration has been open to the public for 24 hours and we are over half way there.)

See this page for more information or to enroll in Project 52 Pro – “No Fear” – we start July 1.

Thanks for visiting.

Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Part Three; Getting Personal

(NOTE)
If you are just coming into this series, I highly suggest you start at Part One, and then do Part Two before starting Part Three. Links for all of them are inside the protected area, and you can access them easily.

So far we have been working on our portfolios, making them reflect both our vision, and the needs of clients that would hire us. And we have begun building out our channels lists so we know where to go looking for those clients we want to work with.

Channels are the big picture look, and now we have to look at the more granular ‘gatekeepers’ and ‘middle entities’ that give us access to the assignment photography we want to do.

In this presentation we will examine the channels list and break it down into the specific clients and companies that we need to access. In this video I will show you how the different entities work, and what you should know as you begin to pursue commercial photography assignments.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next two. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

Subscribe To "In The Frame"

Every Sunday a new relevent newsletter on the art and business of commercial photography.

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Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Part Two

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“How do I find clients?”

One of the most asked questions I get when chatting with photographers is where can they find clients.

It is one of the questions I ask when reviewing a portfolio; “OK, these are nice shots. Who do you know who will pay you for this kind of work?”

Too often I get a sort of lost expression and some mumbling. Occasionally someone will answer with a couple of ideas – but usually what I call the “Low Hanging Fruit” of possible clients; magazines.

Well, there is much more to commercial photography than working for “magazines” and we need to identify those areas who will purchase our work so we can move toward getting them to do just that.

In this video, I discuss the discovery of “Channels” – vertical markets that help you identify the types of businesses that would be able to use the kind of work that you do.

“Discovering Channels” is part two of our “Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients” program. Part One is on the blog and open to all. The entire series is free and open for subscribers to “In The Frame”.

This step by step program will help you build a solid client list, and help you keep them while you build your business. Many of my Project 52 members have been successful working this program.

Subscribers to “In The Frame” have gotten this information already. Please subscribe to get access to this video, and the next three. They are full of information you can use right now to help build a strong client list. “In The Frame” comes out each Sunday, and we never spam you. We focus on the business and art of commercial photography. And please et me know if this series is helpful to you.

Subscribe To "In The Frame"

Every Sunday a new relevent newsletter on the art and business of commercial photography.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

This video is over 45 minutes long and includes a case study to help you build a strong channel list.

 

Finding Commercial Photography Clients: Pt. One – Portfolio


 

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Build a Solid Client List

Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients

NOTE: This is a course for emerging commercial photographers. The methods we discuss may be of interest to consumer photographers as well, but are highly focused on the commercial part of our industry. Thank you.

This is part one of a five part free course on finding and keeping commercial photography clients. It is an introduction to a far more robust course that will be offered July 1. There is no ‘selling’ in this video – or the next three, but in the last one I will show you how to sign up for the more detailed and comprehensive program. These videos are high in value and even if you do not sign up for the full course, you will find them extremely helpful.

To get the remaining 4 videos, please signup for “In the Frame”, my weekly dispatch. The classes will come to you one per week. You will find the sign up on the right hand column. Thank you for being interested, now let’s talk about your portfolio.

In Commercial Photography Some Things Change and Some Things Don’t

On assignment in West Texas, we decided that the local characters would give the well a lot more context.

On assignment in West Texas, we decided that the local characters would give the well a lot more context.

Some Things Change, and Some Things Stay the Same

The constant, and rapidly changing landscape of photography continues unabated. Some may think of this as a very scary time to be in this business. They may be right… for them.

For me it is nearly a miraculous time to be in the photography business. From amazing gear to incredible innovation, it surrounds us every day. Perhaps it has become so ubiquitous that we don’t even see it when it is staring us in the face.

Change, baby. Everywhere.

I just read an article about some wedding guy going with Micro 4/3 and giving up his Nikons. Another article on what looks like a very cool 300WS studio flash with TTL for under $300. One photographer is shooting on a massive camera on handmade paper, while another is exploring Iceland with nothing but an iPhone. Both of them are getting images that are amazing.

The business part is changing as well. A recent study by web folk who study this sort of thing found that people respond more to big photographs on web pages than they do small. They also found that the cheap, crappy stock image is worse for the site than if there were no image at all.

What?

Photographs WORK? Photographs help sell stuff? Good photography matters?

Dang… who could have known?

Well, WE PHOTOGRAPHERS SURE AS HELL KNEW. Most competent ad agencies and graphic designers know. (Although there are a lot of graphic designers out there who have obviously bought into the free or dirt cheap RF stock junk. Too bad, losers.)

Now we are being backed up by non-photographers.

Our job now is to let our clients know how valuable a photograph is. Let them know that skimping on photography is a fast way to fewer sales and pointing them in the right direction is one of our purposes.

And we do that by doing the best work. Always the best work. No slacking, no hacking, no short cuts. We do the best work we can, and we do it over and over again.

We have to be able to show the client the difference between hack crap and good imagery. If we can’t, we may find that we are not making much headway.

I recently did a portfolio review with a photographer who was struggling a bit. He was having trouble connecting to his audience, and getting clients to say yes was becoming a very difficult endeavor. He was showing his book diligently, but getting no offers.

Problem was that while his book was that of an emerging photographer, the work ranged from ‘meh’ to good, and a few ‘greats’ thrown in almost as an afterthought.

When I remarked on is truly impressive images, he would say something like “yeah, I wasn’t sure about that one.” And he was sure about the mundane boring stuff?

The reality is that he was nearly totally cut off from the world of commercial photography. He took his cue from Model Mayhem, 500PX and G+.

When I asked him about some commercial shooters in his town (Google is your friend), he didn’t know who they were or what they did. He didn’t look at magazines or online publications. He was in a vacuum, and nobody can hear you scream in space.

When you show your work, you will be judged on more than the individual images, you will be judged  by how well you understand the genre you are presenting. Is it within the genre of the client?

Wine bottles lit by umbrellas, ‘fashion models’ who are obviously 5’1”, car shots of last years models, food shots that look cold and stale, bad natural light still life work… all can lead to a single image bringing down the entire book.

The question becomes “why are they showing me this? Do they think this is cool? Can they not see it is horribly presented? How did they get all those other shots I wonder?”

Doubt. And doubt doesn’t close deals.

Free Selina Maitreya video series on becoming more than you ever thought possible.

Some truths about this highly competitive business:

  1. Showing 10 great shots is far better than showing those same ten great shots mixed in with 20 other turkeys.
  2. You cannot edit your own work (mostly). Find someone to help you. A mentor or good friend who you TRUST.
  3. Do not be defensive, but do be strong. If three people you trust say ‘take it out’ then I would consider that some strong indication that while you may love it, it doesn’t ‘fit’ in your portfolio. Perhaps you need more of that kind to give it some context
  4. Make no excuses. Yeah, it was a crazy day and the MUA was late and it rained and three rabid wolves chased off the stylist, but once the hail stopped you were able to get a few shots in before the lightning destroyed the set, they look pretty good, all things considered. Bucky… on one cares about the things considered. Your ‘masterpiece’ under fire is a dud.
  5. Always be shooting. You should be adding new work to your site weekly if you are emerging as a shooter. That’s the time you have to DO the shots you want. Once the ball gets rolling, it may be tougher to find the time to do them. And they are VITAL to the ‘warm fuzzies’ for art directors and designers who may be following along.

The business is changing rapidly, but there are some things that are not changing… and showing top notch work, developing a body of work and keeping your work in front of people who buy is still as important, if not more important, than it has ever been.

So enjoy your new “mirrorless” or MFT, and dig into that Medium Format with gusto. Grab those new strobes and tell us all about them on the various social media… but remember that the words won’t count as much as the images you create with them.

If your client is looking for a technical writer who knows everything about every lens ever made, you may get a shot at it. But if they are looking for a photographer, you better make sure your portfolio is up to snuff, full of new work, and ready to be shown

That much will stay the same for a while longer. I’m sure.
I would love to hear your comments on the ways you are working to keep your portfolio up. Add them in the comments.