Tired of booking the same types of shoots? There’s an easy answer: stop posting them. Instead, only post the type of work you want to get hired to do. Coupling strategic use of Instagram with a strong portfolio of the types of shoots you actually want to book is the best way to increase getting the work you want!
In photography, there’s an unwritten rule that we’ve all heard many times, “post the type of work you would like to book.” However, making this rule a reality is difficult, as well all know, it’s hard to turn down cash from those shoots that we’re so burnt out on. I worked at a studio in Cedar City where I attended university and did mostly family and kid portraits. When I moved back to my hometown of Ely, I knew my bread and butter was in high school senior portraits and weddings, but I was still getting a lot of inquiries for family portraits, so I would book them.
My mistake was that I kept posting the work I didn’t want to keep doing on my website and my social media pages, because that’s what I knew and had experience in. People would see these posts and of course want to book me for that type of session. After moving to Seattle, I wanted to take advantage of new opportunities and the new market I was surrounded by. I knew I wanted to start shooting more models and aim towards commercial work. In order to move into this type of photography, I knew cold-calling an agency was likely to be unsuccessful since my portfolio was mainly seniors and weddings. To make it worse, I also had a day job, and agencies were closed on weekends. So going in during the week wasn’t an option for me. Now, with a solid portfolio, it's more likely a booker will send someone without a face to face meeting. A little over a year since moving to Seattle, I am now swamped with testing inquiries and this is how I did it.
1. Stop Posting Work That You Don’t Actually Want to Shoot.
Conversely, post only the work you are aiming to book. This can be difficult if you’re aiming to break into a niche that you have little or no experience in, but there are useful tools such as Model Mayhem, which may get a bad rap, but can be helpful. Furthermore, use the power of social networks to aid in your endeavor, and ask friends or acquaintances to shoot that style of session with you in order to build your portfolio.
2. Build a Professional Network within the Desired Niche.
Before I moved here, I had a gaggle of acquaintances I’d met through Facebook groups. This was great in two aspects: one, I had people I knew in the area already; and two, I had a professional network foundation built. One of the first models I worked with was someone I met through this network. The more work I have been doing, the more inquiries that have come in.
3. Use Instagram as a Marketing Tool.
When you photograph a model, if they love a shot, they are going to post it to their feed. Now, you’re getting double exposure (unintentional photography pun). This goes for most other niches of photography as well. You should also follow other professionals in that area you want to shoot more of. They will likely see that you shoot similar work and follow you in return, which may turn into more business. Try finding makeup artists, wedding planners, stylists, models, and other businesses in your area to work with. See what relevant hashtags others in the industry are utilizing. The tags should be consistent with the photo and used conservatively. Instagram is a free, public portfolio that is utilized by the masses. Treat it like a portfolio and show only your best work. That being said, it’s nice to see something personal peppered in throughout. This gives you some humility. However, refrain from poorly shot food photos, and if you have trouble balancing your personal posts in your professional ones, just create separate accounts.
What it comes down to is the fact that if you want to move towards shooting a certain style that you may not have a lot of experience in, don’t be afraid. There are many photographers who have also struggled with this. You just have to figure out the direction you want to head, present a strong body of work, and above all, stop posting work that you don’t actually want to shoot.