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12 Great Tips For Budding Freelance Photographers

For many out there, freelance photography can be that perfect scenario of carving out a career in something that you are genuinely passionate about. It is, however, a very competitive and cut-throat industry to make your way in and can leave even the most talented of photographers feeling demoralised at times.

We have spoken to several leading experts in the field for their opinions on what are the most vital tips in understanding and succeeding this potentially life-changing area.

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#1 Keep On Learning

My tip for any freelance photographer would be to always keep on learning. We live in an age in which a sheer unlimited amount of knowledge is accessible for free, be it on YouTube, Instagram or photography blogs. Look at other people’s work as much as possible. Ask how they did it and then try to recreate certain aspects (don’t just copy) of what you’ve seen. There are great photo critique communities where you can learn to analyse existing work which will help you improve your own photos.

Contributor: Moritz Schmittat Photography from schmittat

#2 Shoot What You Love

Freelance Photography can be a hard business and often you have to take jobs on to pay the bills, but the longer I’ve been in business the more I’ve realised how important it is to try and shoot what you love. By shooting things that you enjoy shooting and aiming to be a part of projects or jobs that actually bring you personal joy - it will show in the quality of work you’re producing, it will show to your clients and you’ll feel good about the work you’re producing.

Never underestimate the value of enjoying what your shooting. I’ll often accept a lower paid commission over a higher one, If I feel the job suits my style better and will be more fun to work on.

Contributor: Simon Fazackarley from fazackarley

#3 Find A Niche

To attract the clients that you want, you have to show that you are an expert in your specific photographic niche. By “niche” I don’t mean simply choosing weddings or landscapes. You need to choose a category of photography, specific style, price range, and an ideal clientele. Once you have identified your niche, you need to commit to only sharing work that fits into it. You can still accept jobs with other clients, but if it doesn’t fit your niche, keep the work private!

Contributor: Laura Pinckard, LLC from laurapinckard

#4 Focus On Your Marketing And Networking

Being a freelance photographer means you have to find freelance jobs, and in order to do that you need to pour your time and energy into marketing and networking. Build a social media presence, get to know other professionals in your industry, grow an email list, optimize your website for search engines. One of the most important things you can do is create a Google My Business listing with the specific locations that you service. The best way for your prospective clients to find you is by being visible.

Contributor: Laura Pinckard, LLC from laurapinckard

#5 Have A Project Kick-Off Call

It’s always a must-have to have a kick-off call with your client before the project or event date. On this call (or meeting) you should discuss equipment needs, lighting, types of pictures, hours on site, estimated hours for post-editing, etc.

After the call, send a recap email (or contract) that clearly outlines everything agreed upon.

Contributor: Alex Membrillo, CEO from cardinaldigitalmarketing

#7 Never Fear You Can’t Do It

If you feel that something would be too difficult for you, try it regardless. If you have met an opportunity, it means you were ready for it. If you prepare well and spend time planning and organizing, fear will turn into motivation and job very well done. Photography is primarily a passion, only then skill, so look, follow, learn, plan, but above all make fun and mistakes.

Contributor: Adrian from military1st

#8 Know Your Worth

Absolutely do not work very cheap just to get work. This is a huge mistake most beginners make because they want to build a portfolio, but this forgets that you’re also running a business. By undercharging, you are cheating yourself.

Running a business costs money and there is a general minimum cost you incur for every shoot you do. There’s wear and tear on your car, depreciation on your gear, gas, your time spent shooting, editing, uploading images, electricity, costs for advertising, a website, taxes, the list goes on and on. As a new photographer, you need to plan on a certain percentage of every job going to the cost of running your business; a minimum of 50% is a good place to begin.

Contributor: Jim Costa from jimcostafilms

#9 Pre-Determine Any Penalties

We once had a freelancer photographer taking pictures for a client’s event. After the fact, it was determined that the photographer had an equipment issue due to a cracked lens, and the event’s photography was unusable. The client of course did not want to pay for the photography, while the photographer wanted to be paid since they had show up and “didn’t mean for there to be a problem”. While we were able to resolve the payment issue, had our contract stated that we wouldn’t pay for unusable images, it would have helped avoid the hassle.

As a photographer, I recommend charging for the delivered product. If there is an issue, do what you can within reason to make things right. Don’t make a short-sided decision that will cost you a long-term client.

Contributor: Alex Membrillo, CEO from cardinaldigitalmarketing

#12 Community Over Competition

As a freelance photographer, you are in an industry where other freelancers often have to pass up on potential work due to busy schedules. By building your network and prioritizing community rather than competition, you can receive referrals from other photographers. On the other hand, if word gets out that you are more focused on self-promotion, you will likely lose potential clients.

Contributor: Laura Pinckard, LLC from laurapinckard

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Written by James Metcalfe

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