In this guide, I show you how to choose who to pitch, how to find the right contact information, and how to craft a winning pitch.
I am a food + product photographer & educator specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable brands. When I am not working with clients, I empower creatives to start their journey by sharing my knowledge on the business of food + product photography.
If you are a photographer (heck, a human being) chances are, you have struggled with self-doubt at some point. As a photographer, it can manifest itself like this: not charging enough for your services, not going after the jobs you really want, not setting yourself challenging goals, etc.
But here’s the thing: as a photographer, you can’t expect clients to have confidence in you if you don’t even believe in yourself! There’s always an element of fake-it-’til-you-make-it in any career change, but if you really let yourself believe, deep down, that you don’t have what it takes…clients can sense that.
I realized early on that self-confidence was going to be key, and that, quite honestly, I didn’t have much of it. So I made it a point to work on my mindset and today I’m going to share with you some of the ways I found to help build that self-confidence as a photographer in the midst of one of the most challenging years of my life:
When you’re just starting, your lack of confidence as a food photographer is rooted in what you don’t know. In fact, there are probably things you don’t even know that you don’t know! It’s scary to jump into something you’re still learning about, but you can arm yourself with information in a lot of ways.
If you can afford to make the investment (and it is an investment), I suggest you take it a step further and work with a coach.
This is by far the single most efficient way I was able to get more confidence as a food photographer. My coach pushed me way outside of my comfort zone! But because she knew what I was capable of, she always pushed me toward projects that would bring me success and therefore, help boost my confidence a lot!
To this day, I still work with a coach, and I also set aside dedicated time each week to read up on my craft and see what’s developing in the photography world. As a result, I feel confident when I speak about my job, and that confidence is very reassuring to new clients.
Work your way up from projects you know you can do to projects that challenge you. Everyone has to start somewhere! Give yourself time to absorb new techniques and carry what you learn from them on to the next, bigger step. You’re building a foundation right now, not a roof!
Be up-front about your experience level and be willing to learn on the job. Some customers know how to get the look they want, they just don’t have the time to do it! They might be happy to turn a task over to you — even if it’s not squarely in your wheelhouse — if you can project confidence that you can learn what you need to know in order to get the job done.
Lists! I make them all the time. I have checklists on Trello, to-do lists in Sunsama, and a whole notebook dedicated to ideas. Until your process becomes second nature, it’s going to be a life-saver to have everything recorded for you to refer back to.
Most importantly, always check your equipment the night before a shoot. Make sure your batteries are charged and your memory cards are ready to go. If you tether, you might even set that up in your studio the evening before.
Look over any notes you’ve made about your current project or client so that the details are fresh on your mind. Leave yourself extra time (because something is bound to go wrong if you don’t).
Also, make sure you do some research and brainstorming before a shoot. You need some direction and at least of rough idea of where you are going before you start shooting. I find that since I started gathering mood boards and a shot list before each shoot, I am a lot more efficient and confident that I will get the job done.
Check out my food photography workflow (It even comes with a free checklist!) to see how I work from start to finish and use the worksheet to prepare your own shoots.
If you know that all of your ducks are in a row, you will automatically feel more confidence as a food photographer. That’s not to say you won’t feel nervous, but there’s a difference between “I think I can do it” nerves and “I know I can do it” nerves.
I don’t know where I would be without my Instagram community! Go out in search of supportive peers to swap photography knowledge with. You’ll know when you’ve found the right fit. A close-knit community (even if it’s several thousand people strong) will be your loudest cheering section, your widest resource, and your most powerful advocate.
I’m not just talking about making friends here, either. Networking is integral to any career path, and photography is no different. Find other photographers to team up with. Plan a styled shoot to form relationships with local vendors. Get out there!
It helps to know what it is you’re working toward. Sit down and look at where you want to be six months, a year, or five years down the road. What steps do you need to take to get there? Or maybe the timeline isn’t as important to you as the goals themselves.
Set concrete checkpoints for yourself. Research what you need to be capable of in order to reach them. For example, if one of your goals is to win a photography competition, your list might look like this:
When you reach your goal (not if!) celebrate and go set a new one. If you want to learn more about setting concrete professional goals, get started with my goal setting series. (Be sure to download my free workbook and Trello board template!)
Believing in yourself seems like it should come naturally, but for many of us it requires practice and work, just like anything else. The best thing you can do to develop professional confidence is to know yourself. Spend some time in reflection, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. How can you play to your strengths? How can you keep your weaknesses in check?
Lastly, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! Set goals that challenge you, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward no matter what! If I can do it, so can you. Share in the comments below any other way to boost your self-confidence and sign up for my email list to stay connected.