How to get photography clients

Editorial headshot of Elizabeth Rivelli
If you want to grow your photography business, you’ll need to expand your client roster. There are a variety of ways to attract new customers to your photography business, like developing a solid marketing plan, collecting reviews, using freelancing platforms, attending industry tradeshows, and hosting events.
A photographer takes a photo at a winter session.

Whether you are starting a new photography business or have been running one for more than a year, acquiring new clients is a necessity for helping your business grow and make it successful. There are a number of avenues both online and in person that photography business owners can pursue in order find their client base.

Learn about the best photography marketing tools and tactics you'll need in order to build a successful acquisition plan for your small business.

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What are some of the best ways to get photography clients?

The key to getting more photography clients is to market your business and showcase your work to a new audience of people. This involves basic business strategies, like defining your ideal customer, as well as some creative marketing tactics, like tapping into social media, networking with other photographers, and hosting events.

Here are a handful of approaches you can use to land more photography clients:

Identify your target client

To grow your photography business, you need to focus your efforts on lead generation. However, not all leads are created equal. Before you start marketing your business, it’s important to identify your ideal client.

For example, is your target audience families or business professionals? Do you want to provide specialty photography services, like engagement and wedding photography, or newborn photoshoots? Maybe you want to focus on sports photography, portrait photography, or food photography.

If you don’t have a photography studio, think about how far you’re willing to travel to see clients. Defining your ideal clients and your photography niche will help you tailor your outreach and develop messaging to individuals in your target market.

Create a marketing plan

A comprehensive marketing plan is one of the most effective ways to get more photography customers on your roster. And because your ideal customers are probably online and on social media, now is a great time to improve the online presence of your photography business.

The best photography business marketing efforts are multi-faceted and include strategies like a website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and email newsletters. Each of these channels can help you generate leads, giving you the best chance to reach lots of new paying clients:

1. Website

If you don’t already have a photography website, it’s worth investing some time to build one. There are dozens of free and low-cost online platforms that allow you to create a professional-looking website with no coding or web design experience.

On your website, you should include a list of your photography services, current prices, customer testimonials, galleries of past photography work to showcase your portfolio, and an “about me” page, where you can share more about your specialties and experience.

2. SEO

An SEO-friendly website helps your business rank on the first few pages of search engines like Google. So, for example, when someone searches for a phrase that’s related to your business, like “family portrait photographer in Houston,” your business’s website will show up near the top of the page. That means more visibility for your business, and hopefully, more leads.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a content marketing expert to create an SEO-optimized website. Many website builder platforms have SEO tools that can suggest relevant keywords and phrases to include in your web copy. There are also free online tutorials that explain the basics of SEO if you want to learn how to do it yourself.

3. Social media

Because photography is visual, leveraging image-based social media platforms like Instagram is a great way to market your business. Not to mention, many potential clients are likely scrolling through social media apps to find a photographer that meets their personal aesthetic.

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook make it easy to showcase your work and communicate with customers at the same time. If you already have accounts, make sure you’re posting consistently and engaging with followers through stories, polls, and comments.

Don’t forget to tag your photos with relevant hashtags, like #weddingphotographer or #corporateheadshots to help potential customers find your business. If you’re allowing customers to inquire about photoshoots through direct messages, make sure you’re checking your inbox regularly.

4. Email newsletters

To round out your marketing strategy, you might also consider sending out email newsletters to your past clients. This keeps your business top of mind throughout the year and increases the chance that a past client will book another session with you in the future.

If you’re not sure where to start with email newsletters, there are lots of tools available. Some of the most popular platforms, like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign, have built-in customer relationship management (CRM) systems and email templates that you can customize and send to past and current clients.

You can use your email newsletters to update clients on new services, offer limited-time discounts, or send a friendly note around the holidays. Make it a goal to send newsletters every few months or once per quarter, depending on what’s going on in your business.

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Choose a platform to showcase your portfolio

As a professional photographer, you need a way to showcase your work to potential customers. If you don’t already have a portfolio, you should create a collection of your best work, and make sure that potential clients can see it online.

Upload photos that demonstrate your photography expertise, whether it’s weddings, professional headshots, stock photos, or even scenic drone photography. You might also provide a summary of each session, explaining the client’s goal and how you made their vision come to life.

Once you’ve curated a portfolio, choose a platform to publish it on. There are dozens of portfolio websites, like Behance, Zenfolio, and Carbonmade. You should also include a link to your portfolio on your social media accounts and website. As you continue working with more clients and booking more sessions, make sure to update your portfolio regularly.

Creating a high-quality portfolio and publishing it on the right platforms gives your business visibility and ensures that your ideal clients are seeing your work.

Ask for reviews

Reviews are essential to decision-making, whether you’re booking a photographer, shopping for a product, or searching for a new restaurant. As you’re building out your website and social media pages, start collecting testimonials from past clients who were satisfied with your work, and publish them on your new pages.

Each time you complete a session with a new client, ask them to leave a review based on their experience working with you. Most customers who have had great experiences will jump at the chance to tell others how wonderful you are.

There are several ways to collect client testimonials. You could have existing clients email you their testimonials and publish them on your website, or you could ask clients to leave a review of your business on Google.

Start a referral program

Referrals are a great way to grow your photography business and get more clients with little effort on your end. At the same time, you can also provide incentives to customers for bringing you new business—it ends up being a win-win for everyone.

Develop a referral program where clients get rewarded every time they refer a new customer to your business. You might start by getting personal referrals from friends and family to get the ball rolling. For personal referrals or new customers, you could offer discounts on a photo shoot or professional prints, as well as a small gift card option.

In the photography industry, word of mouth is a great way to advertise your business and get more clients. However, your reputation as a business owner is everything, so make sure you’re providing the best service possible to all clients, even in challenging situations.

Use freelancing websites

When you’re growing your photography business, don’t neglect freelancing websites like Upwork and Fiverr. Even if you already have an established photography business, these platforms can be great lead generation tools. Not only can potential clients find and hire you, but you can also respond to job requests, which can grow your customer base.

To join freelancing websites, you typically need to make a profile with a summary of your experience, your rates, and of course, a gallery of your best photography work. Spend time creating a thoughtful profile that would make potential clients want to hire you.

If you need help creating an eye-catching profile, check out the profiles of top-rated freelancers in your field for inspiration.

Attend conferences and trade shows

Attending photography conferences and trade shows is a great way to meet other professional photographers and key players in the industry. If you’re attending events related to your photography niche, it could help you find new customers.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you might attend a trade show that attracts wedding vendors from around your region. You can stop by booths to chat with business owners, then leave your business card at their table. If one of their couples is looking for a photographer, they might just refer them to you.

Network with other professionals

Networking is one of the most effective growth strategies for any business. To effectively network, you need to be comfortable chatting with strangers. Once you get the hang of it, however, networking can transform your photography business.

There are lots of ways to connect with other photographers and small business owners. You can attend trade shows and conferences, sign up for local photographer groups, enroll in continuing education courses, or talk to local business owners.

For example, if you specialize in food photography, think about connecting with restaurant and cafe owners in your area. You never know when that business is going to need updated photography for its website or menu. If they know you as a local food photographer, they might hire you for the job.

You should also network with other photographers in your field who you might consider to be your competition. If that person is planning to attend a photo session and they can’t make it, they might call you to step in as their replacement.

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Host your own event

Hosting your own photography event can be a great way to draw in potential new clients. And because you’re in charge, you get to decide who to invite, how many people to invite, and what services you’ll offer.

There are a few ways to host a successful photography event. You can run the event at your studio, or you can book a venue. Figure out what you’re going to offer, like mini sessions, corporate headshots, or photos for kids. You might consider partnering with another local business, like a floral shop or café, for even more exposure.

You will also need to advertise the event. To spread the word, you could run a social media campaign, use Facebook ads, Google ads, or promote the event through your email newsletter.

Hosting your own event does come with certain risks though, so it may be wise to look into special event insurance coverage if you plan to host events for your business.

Volunteer your photography services

If you aren’t ready to host your own event, you might consider volunteering your photography skills instead. For example, if a local sports league, school, or charity needs photos taken, you could offer to photograph the event and hand out your business card to attendees.

While you shouldn’t always work for free, volunteering can be a great way to promote your business in the local community without spending much money out-of-pocket. You could also sell the photos you take to make some money from the event.

The key to getting more photography clients is to market your business and showcase your work to a new audience of people.

Find photography insurance quotes from trusted carriers

Photographers face a variety of risks on the job, which is why it’s important to get photography business insurance before you start working with new clients.

This includes:

General liability insurance

Imagine you’re shooting a family’s holiday card in your photography studio when a child trips and falls on an extension cord. The child’s parents decide to take them to the doctor to get checked out. If the family decided to sue you for their child’s medical bills, a general liability insurance policy would cover the cost.

Business owner's policy (BOP)

A business owner's policy (BOP) bundles general liability insurance with commercial property insurance. It generally costs less than buying these two policies separately.

Professional liability insurance

If you’re a freelance photographer, having professional liability insurance can be valuable. Professional liability insurance (also called errors and omissions insurance) covers lawsuits related to unsatisfactory work. For example, if you photographed an engagement and accidentally lost the memory card, this policy would pay for your legal fees if the couple sued you.

Workers' compensation insurance

If you have employees, such as a photography assistant, you will need workers' compensation insurance. Workers' comp covers medical costs and lost wages for work-related injuries and illnesses. It's required in almost every state for businesses that have employees.

Commercial auto insurance

Another policy to consider is commercial auto insurance. Any time you use your personal vehicle for work travel, your private car insurance policy does not apply. Whether you drive to client photo shoots or to industry events, you should consider a commercial auto insurance policy for sufficient coverage.

Inland marine insurance

You should also make sure your photography equipment is covered against potential losses like theft, floods, and natural disasters.

Inland marine insurance protects your cameras, lenses, lighting kits, tripods, computers, drones, and other equipment in transit or when stored off-site. If your equipment is damaged or destroyed, your inland marine insurance pays to replace the item.

Get photography insurance coverage today from Insureon

Once you’ve decided what types of photography insurance you need, you can complete Insureon’s easy online application to compare quotes from top U.S. providers. Once you find the right policy for your photography business, you can purchase a policy and get coverage that begins in less than 24 hours.

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Elizabet Rivelli, Freelance Writer

Elizabeth is a freelance writer with extensive experience covering commercial insurance and personal insurance lines. Her work has been featured in dozens of online finance publications, including Forbes, Bankrate, and Investopedia. Elizabeth also writes for several insurance carriers.

Content verified by: Jess Holy, Senior Copywriter

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