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Professional photographers know, maybe more than most, how difficult it can be to stand out in the sea of competition. You need to not only find a way to stand out in your own industry; you need a way to stand out among every smartphone owner, who now, with the help of relatively easy-to-use filters and settings, can take pretty darn good photos. Smart marketing ideas for photographers are important, now more than ever.

Fortunately, the nature of being a photographer gives you a few indispensible tools to market yourself and stand out from the crowd. One is your portfolio, which speaks for itself and immediately shows potential clients that you can create something visually striking and meaningful. The other is your ability to connect with clients. Whether you specialize in photographing human subjects or not, photography is a highly personal art form. Being able to understand what your clients want and need is something that sets you apart from all of the other photographers out there, both professional and amateur.

The Photos Begin the Story

Photographers, like most artists, see the world differently than the rest of us. I’ve known quite a few professional photographers over the years, and while they all have wildly different specialties and career tracks, the one thing they all have in common is that they find beauty and fascination in the most unexpected places.

You’ve surely heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and it’s true. Pictures tell powerful stories on their own. But the pictures alone don’t tell the whole story. They don’t say exactly what was going through your head as you chose that exact moment to stop and take a photo. They don’t tell the story of how you set up the perfect shot on the beach, only to have a flock of seagulls come out of nowhere and start dive-bombing the model. They don’t tell the story about how everything went wrong at the wedding, but how you were able to put the couple at ease and find the beauty in the chaos.

Photographers often get to work with clients in vulnerable and intimate moments. One photographer I know is in the middle of shooting a series at an Alzheimer’s clinic. The project includes patients, caregivers, and families, and the goal is to capture the good moments as well as the somber ones. Photographs and memories are so connected; there’s a heavy symbolism in working with clients who are in the process of losing their memories. There’s no doubt in my mind that this project will have a profound effect on not only the clients, but the photographer, too.

Words Tell the Rest of the Story

There are a lot of photography books out there, and the vast majority of them are comprised of photos only. Describing a photo in words can be stressful—landscape photographer Robert Adams laid out the dilemma perfectly when he once admitted that he “worked through more than a hundred drafts of a four-paragraph statement for a catalogue, all to find something that would just keep out of the way of the pictures.”

To create a book to position and market yourself would be an entirely different experience. The goal of a book for this purpose is not to display a bunch of pictures and then describe them like you would in a catalogue or gallery. The goal is to reach out to colleagues and potential clients and share a little bit of yourself. It is your opportunity to tell your story as a photographer and to share some insight as to what it’s like to work with you.

I’ll admit it. I absolutely hate having my photo taken. I need to do it now and then for professional reasons, and it stresses me out much more than it probably should. What I look for in a photographer is not only someone who is talented behind the camera, but also someone who can help ease my anxiety and act as an ally through the process. I’ve decided who I want to work with next time I need photos taken, and a large percentage of my decision is based on the personal stories he took the time to share on his website. I hope he writes a book someday, because it could change the way people think about photography.

Show Your Expertise

Another way to use a book to market your photography business is to dive deeper into your area of expertise. Do you specialize in weddings? Tell the world how that is different from other photography settings. Talk about all of the unique things that come up over the course of a wedding and what specifically to look for in a wedding photographer. Do you specialize in working with animals? Talk about the specific challenges of working with animals, with and without their owners.

When clients are shopping for photographers for specific purposes, they want to know that they’re in good hands. They want to know that the photographer they choose has a lot of experience in the exact situation they’ll be in, and wouldn’t it be comforting for a potential client to see that you literally “wrote the book on the subject!”

A book is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind for photographers when thinking about how to market themselves, but it can be an extremely powerful tool. You can combine the visual impact of work from your portfolio with stories that tell more about your inspiration, your philosophy, and how you work with clients. Writing a book may seem like a big task, but you don’t have to do it alone. That’s where Maven Publishing comes in. Contact us today to find out how we help photographers create a book that lets you connect with clients (both present and prospective) and stand out in your industry.

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