Fstoppers Answers - "Give One Piece of Advice on Marketing Yourself"

Fstoppers Answers - "Give One Piece of Advice on Marketing Yourself"

Each week, we ask our writers a question submitted by the public in a segment we call Fstoppers Answers. Last week, we asked "What is Your Cancellation Policy?" and people showed some interest in the marketing side of things. So keeping with that in mind, this week we ask "If you could give ONE piece of advice on how to market yourself, what would it be?"

Peter HouseStaff Writer | Commercial Photographer Work on your image. No, no, I don’t mean the stuff in your portfolio. You can go ahead and close Photoshop. I’m talking about YOUR image. Who you are, your values, and how clients perceive you are extremely important. When I say Honda, what words come to mind? What if I say Ferrari? See what I did there? Both those brands evoke an emotion and are immediately associated with certain describing words. So, what words describe you?


Mike WilkinsonStaff Writer | Video Producer Don't spend too much money on marketing outside of business cards, a website, and an online portfolio. Just do great work, be enjoyable to work with as a person, and eventually the work will come to you. Word of mouth has the highest conversion % of all types of marketing for many industries. After a few years of freelancing, I didn't have to spend much time looking for work, repeat clients, and people they referred me to made up 80% of the work I did in a year.


Joseph GambleStaff Writer | Portrait Photographer Never underestimate the value of personal relationships in this industry or any other. Cultivated over time, personal relationships are of far greater value than the traditional channels of prospecting — email, direct mail, social media. Ultimately, the goal of marketing is to put your work in front of the people who will hire you to do it. Personal relationships can facilitate this as we all generally want to work with our friends as it creates a more fun and exciting creative work environment.


Dave GeffinStaff Writer | Professional Photographer Play to your strengths. Understand what sort of images you enjoy making and what it it about your and your personality that drives that. Then, have fun - go make images you are personally proud of and put them out there.You'll inevitably start connecting with like minded others. After probably a lot of hard work, you will hopefully find you won't need to worry about marketing yourself because you'll be connecting with the right people anyway.


Zach SuttonAssociate Editor | Headshot Photographer Find your real market. Too many people will throw their images all over social media websites without know if their target client is even looking at that. How many clients do you really think are on 500px? I'm not saying it's not a good place to get critiques and feedback, but understand that you're likely not going to get any work from there. Be sure to focus on your local market and clients first, and focus on the other stuff afterwards.


Pratik NaikStaff Writer | High End Retoucher In our industry where there almost seems to be no barrier to entry and anyone without a degree can start shooting relatively quickly, marketing yourself is what sets you apart even more so than just the quality of your work. My advice is to set aside a good amount of time each day to market yourself regularly. It may be just what makes or breaks you. Personally, the time invested in my daily practice on marketing myself online has brought a great return in business and growth. I do this by either sharing my work, engaging my audience with industry related material, connecting with new industry colleagues, involving myself in industry discussions, and many other methods.


Mike KelleyAssociate Editor | Architecture Photographer Stop wasting time on Facebook, 500px, Flickr, Behance, G+, LinkedIn, and every other social network. Putting your work on those sites with the intent of impressing other photographers is nothing but an enormous waste of time. Get your work in front of the people who are going to want to pay for it, not other photographers. Redirect this time into making calls, reconnecting in person with old clients and fostering relationships with new. All the 'likes' and '+1s' in the world don't mean a thing if you can't deposit them in the bank. Of course there is a place for a small online presence, and my little diatribe above is somewhat of an extreme, but you really shouldn't put too much weight in it as a barometer of success, especially if you are just getting started with the business of photography.


Noam GalaiStaff Writer | Commercial Photographer Have a great online presence. Today pretty much all your target audience, doesn't matter what or who you shoot, is spending a lot of time online, if it's on the computer or on the phone. So why not using the fact they are browsing the internet and checking social networks to remind them of what you do? Make sure you have a great website and update it often, share your newest work on Facebook, or show behind the scenes from a recent shoot on Instagram. Constantly remind people of who you are and what you can do, so next time they need a photographer in your field, they will immediately think of you. Yes, it takes time to manage all the social networks and doing it right, but it's totally worth it. So yeah, go and update your Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter/500px/Instagram/linkedin/Flickr/Vine and let people see what you can do for them.


Matt KennedyStaff Writer | Wedding Photographer I would tell them to get a professional designer to give them a brand, and make it thorough. Use someone who has done it well for a photographer before, and don't be afraid to put money into it. A solid brand is the first step in being able to charge more for your time and talent.


As always, if you have a question you'd like to have answered, feel free to ask it in the comments below. Also, feel free to weigh in on the topic below as well.

Zach Sutton's picture

Zach Sutton is an award-winning and internationally published commercial and headshot photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His work highlights environmental portraiture, blending landscapes and scenes with portrait photography. Zach writes for various publications on the topic of photography and retouching.

Log in or register to post comments

Don't market yourself.

Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion designer, said in a recent interview that the word "marketing" basically means going to the market to buy groceries. More precisely, the word and the concept behind it aren't as important today as they were in a previous era. In social media, the only thing that matters is a reputation. A person's reputation is created by what others-say-about-him rather than what he-says-about-himself. Overt marketing strategies begin to appear obnoxious in a social media environment because the folks that engage in them appear to be trying too hard to be liked rather than just being at ease with themselves and being liked (or even disliked in certain circumstances) for whom they are naturally.

You might want to take a step back and look at what marketing is from a more general perspective.

From wiki "Marketing can be looked at as an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, delivering and communicating value to customers, and managing customer relationships in ways that also benefit the organization and its shareholders." Advertising on social media is a very small subset of what marketing. It encompasses your photo style, your branding, the way you interact with people, the kind of customers you want and so much more.

Karl if playing it cool if he's saying marketing is not important. Channel is a company with one of the most strong brand image and identity. Even Lagerfeld has a very strong personal "brand". The way they interact with the general public and their customers is very measured. Heck you could attribute Coco Channel's success to a bold brand and a constant visual identity.

If you are referring to the fashion brand, Channel and Coco Channel doesn't exist LMAO

You missed the point.

Haha, I didn't catch that, silly spell check. ;)

Hi louisleblanc,

Here's the Lagerfeld interview that I referred to previously: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzvu0lpi0qo

It's possible that what I consider to be the line between marketing and reputation needs some clarification so maybe an example will help.... If a person opens up a donut shop then he's establishing a "presence." If he puts a commercial on TV, places an ad in the paper, distributes flyers with coupons or buys billboard space then he's engaged in overtly "marketing" the donut shop. If one of his customers tells a friend that the donuts are really good, then he's gaining recognition and a potentially new customer through purely social means based on "reputation" alone.

Social media works best for photographers when it's treated like the last sentence in my donut shop example. The way to market yourself online is not to market yourself at all. In other words, establish a presence and then let your reputation do the work for you. Overt marketing strategies in social media are generally only distractions. If a photographer just concentrates on creating good work and continually maintains a presence, then eventually the audience and the clients will come to him.

Marketing/Advertising 101, get the audience to talk about it, whether it be negative or positive. If the audience is talking about it, it is successful. Overt marketing: Justin Beiber, Rebecca Black and Miley Cyrus to name the most recent. They are extremely successfu and they're reputation, didn't matter to them.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Photography is like schrodinger's cat, if you stay in a box with great photos, just talking about having great photos may or may not get you work depending on the connection. If you open your box up, your work maybe great or dead to the viewer. If they feel your work is dead that is where marketing and sales may comes into play.

Marketing and Advertising comes in to play once you open the box.

I find it very interesting at the diversity of these comments in the article. Most contradict each other. Which most likely means that there are several ways to skin this cat :)

I noticed that as well. I love Peter House's comment about working on your image. Not the images that you take but the image that you present to the masses. Work on speaking directly to your niche market.

OK this is funny

Mike Kelly - "Stop wasting time on Facebook, 500px, Flickr, Behance, G+, LinkedIn, and every other social network"

Then right after

Noam Galai - "So yeah, go and update your
Facebook/Tumblr/Twitter/500px/Instagram/linkedin/Flickr/Vine and let
people see what you can do for them"

I have to agree with both of them here, because in reality they are both talking about two spereate things. Mike is telling us to stop wasting time uploading to these sites, but he's saying to stop doing it to impress other photographers. I totally agree with him! Photography is completely subjective, not only will some clients not like your work but some photographers won't either. I think it is a complete waste of time to look for the admiration or other professionals, just shoot what you like and keep your clients happy.

As for Noam, well he is speaking on more of a marketing to clients point, and with this I agree. These sites are free, and they promote your work to future clients so why wouldn't you want to use them. I have landed some major international clients from posting my stuff online, two of which are the Hockey Hall of Fame and the NHLPA. In fact I was just contacted by a huge hockey company the other day because of social media, they are in talks right now with me about shooting stuff for them.

I remeber hearing something a few years back along the lines of facebook pageloads surpassing google page loads, so why wouldn't you want your stuff pasted all over social media.