3 Photography Marketing Tricks and Hacks That Actually Work!

3 Photography Marketing Tricks and Hacks That Actually Work!

Photographers understand that marketing is essential to attracting new clients and growing their business. However, marketing strategies are constantly evolving, so what worked in the past isn’t always going to work in the present or future. In this article, we will share three photography marketing tricks and hacks that actually work based on our 12-plus years of experience operating a successful multi-shooter studio!

The list of marketing strategies for photographers is extensive and includes topics like social media (Instagram, short-form video for TikTok and IG Reels, Pinterest, etc.), paid advertising (Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.), SEO (search engine optimization), conventions and bridal shows, online directories, and more. In this article, we’ll focus primarily on referral marketing and save the other topics for subsequent articles.

Note: This education is directly from our free one-hour masterclass called “3 Steps to $100K More.” If you’re interested in learning more about amplifying your business with more leads, more revenue per client, and higher sales conversions, we encourage you to register here.

1. Make Viral Sharing Effortless

With any shoot, deliver teaser images the same day to the clients and the other vendors involved in the shoot, along with clear permissions, instructions, and even tips to make sharing more likely and more impactful.

Most photographers share images with the vendors and clients after they’ve culled and processed all of their images, which can be weeks or even months after the shoot. But by then, much of the hype and interest has cooled off. Sharing the same day or within a few days multiplies the distribution of the images and turns each person involved in the shoot into a marketing engine for your brand. This works for almost every type of shoot, from wedding, to family, to event photography.  

Action Steps for Image Sharing

To implement this strategy, follow these steps:

  1. Rate your best images throughout the shoot.  
  2. Using Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Presets, edit a set of teaser images from your “starred” images during a break or shortly after the shoot.
  3. Send the images over to the clients and the other vendors from the shoot, such as the stylist, florist, designer, event planner, the venue/location manager, and more.  
  4. Along with the images, include clear permissions for them to use the images on their own social media, asking them to tag you when they share or link to you if they use it on their website. (More on SEO in the masterclass).
  5. You might even go a step further and provide full shoot/vendor credits, sample captions, or event tips for the best ways to post. These can streamline the process and help you maximize your visibility.

2. Create Same-Day Slideshows

If you’re photographing an event, such as a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or other party, then a same day slideshow is one of the best marketing hacks to help you get more referral business.  

At the event, show 20-30 of your favorite images from earlier moments of the same event with an iPad, laptop, or even projected onto a display (if the DJ can do this). Next to the presentation, place some of your business cards. Of course, get approval from the client and event coordinator prior to doing this. With a great set of images, this simple strategy can supercharge your referral business.

Think about this. Every event you photograph is filled with guests in the same life stage, age range, and target audience as the actual client. The problem is that most photographers never end up getting their work in front of these people because by the time the images are delivered and shared, often weeks later, very few people see them. To solve this problem, we started showing same day slideshows. 

Every same day slideshow we create generates at least two to three additional clients that are sold and ready to book! It’s literally one of the best marketing tools, and it’s also a rock star move that makes the clients ecstatic when they see the images. Create buzz at every event you photograph!

Action Steps for Same Day Slideshows

The process is similar to the teasers mentioned above.  

  • During the event, star your favorite images on your camera.
  • Once you have a moment of downtime, transfer those favorites to your phone via your camera’s Bluetooth/wireless app.
  • From there, load them into Lightroom Mobile, and add a quick preset. For all of our work, we use Visual Flow Presets.
  • Then, with the images in Lightroom, just click the slideshow icon. 
  • If possible, send the images to a DJ to display on the projector.
  • When streamlined, the process can take as little as 15-30 minutes from start to finish. On a busy day, if available, have an assistant work through the process.

3. Use Styled Shoots and Giveaways

Next, let’s talk about collaborative styled shoots. In between your paid jobs, put together a list of your favorite vendors for a styled shoot concept. These vendors are other businesses that match your ideal target audience in terms of location, demographics, age, etc. They need imagery, and you need a network, so it’s a win-win situation!

The styled shoot concept can be a chance to play and create images for you and your vendor team rather than doing what clients want. Nothing new so far, right? But here’s the hack. Instead of models, find real-life “models” with a social media giveaway. How you run the giveaway is entirely up to you, but just check with the social media platform’s terms and conditions. Use this as an opportunity to grow your social media presence and engagement. And by using actual real-life models, you have a great chance of converting the entrants or even the selected models into real-life clients.

Action Steps for Collaborative Styled Shoots

  1. Come up with an interesting concept to pitch to a group of vendors (makeup artists, florists, venues, designers, planners, etc.).
  2. Pitch the concept and gather your team! Be very clear on the expectations and timing.
  3. Determine the entry rules and methods. You can use a third-party giveaway plugin like Gleam.io or just stick to something simple, like using the native tagging and commenting systems of each platform.
  4. Create a marketing image for each vendor to share. This is super easy using consumer design software like Canva.  
  5. Require all of the collaborative vendors to announce the contest on their social media accounts at the same date and time.  
  6. Select the winner and execute the shoot!

Benefits and Results

Do this right, and let’s talk about all the things you’ll get:

  • Tighten up vendor relationships.
  • Provide 50+ awesome final images that could be used for websites, portfolios, etc. 
  • Create content for the blog and for multiple SEO-based articles, which we’ll discuss in other articles.
  • Provide 50+ images for social media that can be published over time as you see fit.
  • Practice new techniques and create new conceptual work. 
  • Grow your social media accounts.
  • Get more referrals from the vendors involved in the styled shoot.
  • Convert the entrants and winners into clients. 

As you can see, collaborative styled shoots are one of the best ways to check every box through a single shoot! 


Even though marketing and technology changes constantly, referral marketing will always be one of the best (and easiest) ways to convert and grow your business! We hope these three articles and the action steps listed above will help you do just that!

In future articles, we’ll review more marketing hacks, tips and secrets such as SEO, short-form viral marketing, directories, and more. If you’re interested in more information, please see our full one-hour free masterclass on ways to add $100K more to your photography business

Pye Jirsa's picture

Pye Jirsa is a director, photographer and educator. Founder and Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography, a boutique Southern California wedding and portrait photography studio, and SLR Lounge, a photography education website, Pye devotes his time to helping photographers develop their shooting and business skills.

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I loved that 2nd tip with the sneak peak using LR mobile



This seems to be a very well thought out and well written article. Great work!

However .....

The entire article seems to be based only on photographers who offer photography as a service. As one who offers photos as a virtual product via usage licenses, I feel completely left out.

What resources do you have where you give similar advice for those who shoot stock images of wildlife and nature? We count too, don't we?


Tom, honest question unrelated to this topic. I shoot landscape as a hobby and interior design as a career so I understand the highs of licensing (rarity of images from luxury homes) and haven't really paid attention to the lows as much (California or Southwest landscapes). How many images do you have to upload to microstock sites before you actually start seeing money come in and is it enough to keep life sustainable?

I don't mean this as a jab at all, I just am trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of landscape images that just eat away hard drive space. But if you tell me if I upload 500 photos that I may make $5 a year I'll just put those hard drives in the attic...

S M,

Thank you for the reply.

I am not looking for tips and tricks that involve selling stock images through agencies. Already got that down, and there's really not much to it besides insightful keywording.

I am interested in tips and tricks that deal with selling one's stock images directly to publishers, manufacturers, retailers, and ad agencies. I mean when you don't go thru a stock agency and sell directly to the end user. That is where the real money is, and it is also the part of the business that is hard to break into. It's the area of the stock photo market that people truly need help with. And yet it is quite lucrative for the few who have figured it out and made big time connections in the industry.

A close friend got $40,000 for a photo of a Whitetail Deer that was used to head up a marketing campaign for a deer hunting product line. Another friend got $27,000 for a photo of a flock of Canada Geese in flight with a sunset behind them that was used by Toyota.

Did they get so much money because these were super-special, once-in-a-lifetime photos? Heck no. They were solid images for sure, but nothing unlike what hundreds of us have sitting on our hard drives. They got to make these sales because they have gotten to know people who have top tier jobs at corporations - the people who make decisions about what photographers to work with.

They are not going out "on assignment" to shoot these photos. They are shooting what they like to shoot, and then trying to market the images long after they are taken. Everything they shoot is shot "on spec", in hopes that maybe someday someone will license it.

That is the type of photography business that I would really like to see someone write an article about. And yet all I see are article after article after article about how to market yourself as a baby photographer or a wedding photographer or a portrait photographer or whatever. There's this big huge enormous photo industry going on right under our noses and nobody ever writes articles about how to break into it. Why is that?

Now to answer your questions .....

I cannot speak for landscape images, as that is not something that I specialize in. But with wildlife photos, over the past 5 years I average annual earnings of $1.60 per year per image at one microstock site, and $5.88 per year per image at another microstock site.

You asked about what you could expect if you uploaded 500 of your landscape photos to stock agencies. If your landscape photos would sell at the same rate as my wildlife photos, and if you uploaded the 500 of them to both sites, you could expect total earnings of $3,740 per year.

I agree with you that a little diversity in the posts, especially around the world of licensing would be more interesting to read than wedding or portraiture as I don't dive in to either. But i think you hit the nail on the head when you brought up your friends and their licensing in that it's a connections game, and I have seen posts on here about networking and the like to grow ones business. But (as an introvert) it's not always easy and often times the feeling of being told "no" outweighs the effort to pursue network building, and thus the opportunity to license an image to major brand for $40k because of a connection, or a connection of a connection.

Just like your same scenario above I have a friend in LA that made a killing off of print sales for like 5 years. He was not bashful and very outgoing and while his work was very average, he was making upper 5 figures for something that was a part time gig for him. But granted, he was in medical sales and is just used to no being the answer most of the time.

Thank you for the stock #'s and that was kind of what I was thinking. But if I made $3,740 from stock images I would be happy with that.

I love the styled shoots and give-aways tip - I'm a product and food photographer and it translates across our different niches nicely!

OMG I want to bookmark this one so bad, great article. 👍😊👍

Bookmarking this one; great article. Enjoyed reading it. 👍😊👍