Even if the demand for professional photography remains consistent, many freelancers still struggle with their careers. Bookings are hard to come by, and the competition only gets more intense, further exhausting newcomers of opportunities. According to Dane Sander, author of the book “Fast Track Photographer,” 60% of photographers give up after the first year, and among the remaining ones who persisted, another 25% will fail. All in all, that’s a whopping 85% failure rate.
So, if you’re also a frustrated freelance photographer, how will you overcome the challenges?
1. Learn From Other Photographers
You don’t necessarily need formal training to master photography. You can learn from books or through practice, but to acquire unique learning, turn to your fellows. Reach out to photographers of various specialties, not just the one you’re interested or engaged in. If you’re a wedding photographer, you can also learn a technique or two from a fashion or lifestyle photographer. Study their portfolio, decipher the message each photo sends, and apply whatever you have learned to your own craft.
2. Take Photos for Free
To build your portfolio, start by taking photos of your family and friends for free. You have to build up your portfolio and gain experience first before charging for your services. Your loved ones and peers surely want to support you, so don’t be afraid to send them messages asking if you could be their official photographer to any special event they’ll be holding.
3. Be an Assistant to Experienced Pros
Another advantage of reaching out to your fellow photographers is the chance to join them in their gigs. If you become their assistant, you’ll be exposed to their clients who might be your future clients as well. Take advantage of this opportunity until you’re ready to be on your own.
4. Market Yourself to Potential Clients
Once you’re ready to take on your own gigs, make an announcement to everyone you know. Send personal messages to your social media contacts if you have to. Showcase your portfolio. If you’re shy, you need to muster the confidence to put yourself out there.
Note that your first bookings won’t earn you a fortune yet. They’ll just give you momentum, so focus on the volume of the bookings rather than your earnings. Impress your clients, because of word-of-mouth advertising is what will get your name spread and known.
5. Let the Market Dictate Your Rate
As with any service or product, the market also dictates the price of photography services. So even it hurts your pride, try to reduce your rate a bit, especially if no one books you even after you’ve send out DMs and emails. It means you need to listen to your market and adjust. Just be sure your rate earns you a profit, and that you can still afford to hire the services of photo reliable editing companies. It will be necessary if you’re dealing with a bulk of photos you can’t post-process all at once.
6. Experiment With Various Techniques
You also need to be unique to attract clients, so don’t stick to just one technique (that’s also probably used by all your competitors) and instead be open to trying others. Experiment on different styles, lighting, focus, etc. You need to always have something new to offer to every client.
7. Befriend Your Competitors
In photography, your competitors aren’t exactly your enemies. You can compete while supporting each other at the same time. For example, if a fellow photographer has been fully booked, you can ask them to give you some of their unaccepted bookings. Photography is a unique industry where success is achieved not through tearing your competitors down, but through your mutual passion for the art.
Be patient in your journey. You’ll encounter failures, but that’s just part of the process. Keep working smart and next thing you’d know, you’re juggling bookings you can also share with other newbies.