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.
I believe that there are clients for every level of your photography career. But as you grow your skills and your business, it’s essential to update your client roster and take on better fitting and better paying clients! If you’re wondering how to find new photography clients (and convince them to hire you) then you’ve come to the right place.
There was probably a time when you were thrilled about your current client list. But the biggest growth in a photography business usually happens after you’ve hit a plateau! Expanding your client pool by reaching out to higher-caliber photography clients may be the exact change you need to get to the next level of your business.
Working with better photography clients doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pay more for your services (although it can, if you target different demographics and/or focus on enhancing your client experience). Rather, better photography clients are those that fit in nicely with your creative style.
Working with new photography clients should be challenging in a feel-good way: it should push you out of your comfort zone into a creative place where you are proud of the work you produce. Even better if the work is portfolio-worthy and can be turned into case studies that could win you more of your new ideal clients!
On the other end, combative, critical, or confusing clients are a nightmare to work with. So if you find yourself in an endless cycle of answering questions, compromising your stylistic choices, or arguing with your photography clients, it’s time to make a change.
After all, your happiness and fulfillment on the job is what will sustain your creative business!
If you’re interested in gaining more quality client leads, you need to consider these eight valuable tips for expansion. Understand that finding and taking on new photography clients isn’t always the easiest task, but completely within your reach!
For starters, you have to know what you’re looking for before you go searching. Skipping this planning step could leave you worse off than you were before taking on new clients.
Ask yourself these questions to help uncover your ideal photography clients:
Once you know the specifics, you’ll feel prepared to head out into the world to find clients who fit your ideal description. After you identify your optimal photography clients, you may be surprised how many more come out of the woodwork.
Think of searching for your ideal clients like casting your line for a specific fish. You need the right kind of bait to attract what you’re looking for! For example, high-end photography clients require a high-end portfolio.
You might need to strike out on your own to compile new photographs for your portfolio, especially if your current clients don’t require or request the same quality of work you’re hoping to get into.
Fewer, fantastic photographs are better than infinite, mediocre ones. You want your portfolio to be concise and cohesive! Make sure to include regular personal projects in your planning, and consider planning portfolio shoots with stylists or other creatives.
For the longest time, I told myself that I wanted to work alone and that I didn’t need a team because I enjoyed all aspects of the food and product photography process. From directing and sourcing to styling, shooting, and even editing, each part brings me something different but still feeds my creative yearnings. It wasn’t until I had to hire a food stylist over a year ago that I fully understood the benefits of having help on set.
First of all, having a food stylist on set will save you a ton of time (and focus). While they’re preparing the food, you get to take your time to dial in your lighting and your scene to get them perfect, instead of trying to do 2 things at the same time. (And don’t get me started on the time you will save on cleanup!)
Secondly, having a food stylist on set doesn’t mean that you don’t get to style. It’s actually quite far from the truth!
The food stylist will be there to help you execute your vision and you’ll find that working together is more of a collaboration than a delegation. You’ll come up with more creative ways to style as you exchange ideas (and your brain will be freed up from having to worry about all the logistics of cooking!).
I also thoroughly enjoy working with a photography assistant. They can help with setting up the lighting, moving lights and props around, be your second set of eyes, or even act as hand models.
As you grow your business even larger, you might want to bring on tech assistants, editors, a creative director, or producers. It really depends on the type of work you do and how you like to work.
This tip might seem counterintuitive. Turns out, lower prices don’t always attract more client options. Instead, low prices can leave prospective clients wondering, “what’s wrong with this photographer?” or “what are they leaving out?”
On the other hand, strategically raising your rates indicates to your photography clients that you’re in demand and truly valuable. You might even say that raising your prices is sure to raise a few eyebrows!
Make sure that your rates reflect your style, experience, and the types of client you hope to draw in.
If you have been following me for more than a week, you know how I feel about working in exchange for free products (hint: it’s a hard pass). And when a potential client asks for a discount, even if it’s a friend or family member, just adjust the scope of work to reflect their budget instead of doing that work for free.
It helps to have a list of questions that you can ask potential clients on your discovery call. You can also send new clients an intake form.
Besides the usual questions about how many images they need, where they will be using them, and so on, I recommend you ask clients questions about their business, audience, goals, and what they’re hoping to accomplish with you. You’ll be able to get a good feel for your working dynamic with just a few strategic questions.
Don’t be afraid to turn away candidates that don’t meet your needs at the time. But don’t burn any bridges! Politely decline but leave space for jobs in the future.
Bear in mind that your photography clients are looking for more than photographs. They want to feel secure and supported through the creative journey. If you want to take on new photography clients, you may need to make improvements to the overall experience of working together.
And that doesn’t mean compromising your artistic talents or adopting the mindset of “whatever you say!” It simply means checking all boxes: producing clear and concise contracts to outline your role, protecting your rights and your client’s rights, and leaving lines of communication open.
Your client’s comfort with you is as important as their satisfaction with the finished product. You want to create a premium, repeatable experience. Templates help tremendously with this!
Feedback and testimonials go hand-in-hand, but their benefits differ slightly. Feedback helps you gain clarity on your processes and performance so you can adjust and improve as needed. Testimonials, on the other hand, are an incredible way to advertise your expertise and showcase a job well done.
There are a few great ways to acquire feedback:
You don’t have to take every bit of feedback to heart. Be sure to note the differences between disgruntled clients that were never a good fit for you in the first place, versus clients who have genuinely considered all aspects of your job and aim to help you learn and grow.
Pro tip: Nothing sells quite like a positive testimonial—so be sure to leverage them in your marketing strategies!
The best photography clients are the returning ones! Repeat clients save you time and money on lead generation and pre-production work. You’ll already be familiar with their style, products, company, and so on.
Not to mention, repeat clients are more likely to refer your services to a friend. If they appreciate your work enough to keep coming back, it stands to reason that they like your work enough to speak about you to others.
You can maintain your relationships with your best clients (and spark their memory to chat about you in their network) by engaging with them on social media or keeping them up-to-date on your work through regular email campaigns.
Searching for and taking on new photography clients doesn’t have to be a nightmare! By using the tips and tricks in this post, you’re sure to take on the exact type of clients you want to work with. Be sure to snag our Client Proposal Toolkit for easy access to templates, tutorials, and more education on client proposals.