How do you get your first booking?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by davidhowse, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. davidhowse

    davidhowse TPF Noob!

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    Just wondering if anyone had and suggestions and/or stories about how they got their first client?

    I am trying to make the leap from amateur to pro and I am just trying to get over that first hurdle. I am looking at getting into Wedding and Portrait photography specifically so any thoughts along those lines would be especially helpful.

    Thanks
     
  2. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    What experience do you have? How many years shooting? Have you ever been a second shooter at a wedding? Do you have a studio?

    I've found that through my friends and family I find people willing to pay for my services. I am gaining experience in the wedding field by shooting as a second shooter with a 13 year veteran pro (another wedding this weekend). I've booked by first paid wedding for this coming October where I will be the only shooter.

    You can either network through friends and family or you can drop some money into advertising.

    I'm sure there are some seasoned professional photogs here that can give you better advice than me, I'm still a noobie myself. But I have been booking paid gigs and that's how I've gone about it.
     
  3. mooimeisie

    mooimeisie TPF Noob!

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    Try a booth at a bridal or woman's show, showcasing your portfolio.
     
  4. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Like Tharmsen, I'm finding word-of-mouth through friends to be a boon. After shooting a party for kicks to try-out off-camera-flash, I had one friend at the party who's told me she'd like to hire me for events; birthdays, parties, etc. I'd say the most important thing is to market yourself, and market yourself well. People will start to notice you, particularly if they hear your name from different channels multiple times (say, once face-to-face with you, once from a friend, once online, and so on). Get involved with your community; go to community events and festivals and shoot, handing out your card as you go. Help to solve people's photographic problems/needs; don't try to explicitly sell them something.

    Edit: One thing, I highly, highly recommend Scott Bourne's Secrets to Selling Your Photography on Lynda.com . You can order the DVD for a measly $50, and in return you get a whole load of information about how to market yourself as a professional in the photography business. Scott has a ton of great points, suggestions, and he doesn't make many assumptions (for example, when he talks about getting your logo professionally designed, along with cards and whatnot, he makes a point of acknowledging people who don't have the couple hundred dollars in their budget to hire a pro, and offers alternatives). Overall, a great piece of learning material.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2009
  5. Nicholas James Photo

    Nicholas James Photo TPF Noob!

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    Make sure that by turning pro you don’t immediately give up your day job. The rewards are there but it does take time. The good thing about networking (as MusicaleCA said) is that (if you are any good) 1 be comes 2 and 2 becomes 4 and 4 becomes 8 it does tend to snowball. Which is great. You can be the greatest photographer in the world but if nobody knows you'll starve. So get networking.
    Also, the greatest experience you can get is with a working pro, take a leaf out of Tharmsen's book. Look at his work, and yet, he's still working as a second shooter (until October anyway)…. He will make a good living, you can tell by his work, but he’s taking his time and making the right moves.
    As far as working with a pro, approach local photographers who’s style you like and offer your services as bag carrier, then second shooter etc. But never tout for work when at one of their gigs.
    Business cards (well presented ones) are a must, leave them everywhere, waiting rooms at doctors surgery, bridal shops, flower shops…. Anywhere where a bride to be will go…..which is just about everywhere.
    The bridal shows that mooimeisie mentioned are a good idea but beware the expense.. most bridal shows will be attended by experienced pro’s who will have all of their marketing material already to go, pro stands and well presented portfolios… I’m not saying that you cant do that but it does take a cash investment (which can be quite heavy) and we don’t want you falling at the first hurdle. If you attend on a very small budget…. You may get overlooked where as the same budget spent getting one to one meetings (good business cards/ may be an album/ etc etc) could/should be more fruitful.
    Listen out for wedding and engagement announcements and send them some mail, post not email.
    Whatever you do, don’t give up, once the nut is cracked it tastes quite sweet.
     
  6. Jeff Colburn

    Jeff Colburn TPF Noob!

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    Have business cards, and pass them out to everyone. Have a website too, with the domain listed on your card.

    Have an elevator speech, and use it whenever you can.

    Do some volunteer shooting in the community (the Chamber, Little League, etc.) to get your name out there.

    Enter local photography contests.

    Do whatever you can to get your name and work in front of the public.

    Have Fun,
    Jeff
     
  7. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I was working for a newspaper (Jackson Hole News & Guide) and the work started falling into my lap. If your work is amazing and you have a strong business plan you can get over any hurdle. Let's see some work and we can help further.

    Love & Bass
     
  8. sarahp

    sarahp TPF Noob!

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    Word of mouth is huge, and it's best if the mouth that's talking is one that has experience with you & your photography. So...start out by giving FREE sessions and at-cost prints to your close friends & family - make sure they know that this is a special deal for them and that it's limited-time. Give them a bunch of cards and have them pass them out to their friends & family...then when people go to the website to check out your portfolio, they're seeing pics of people they know. Another thing that's helpful is to set up a referral program. For mine, I offer $10 off the session fee for people who have been referred to me by existing clients - and the clients get $10 PER REFERRAL, so they're working toward earning a free session. I had one woman last year who referred 5 of her friends. Awesome! She may have told her friends about me and mentioned how thrilled she was with her images, but it may have ended there if not for the deal that went along with it.

    Also - keep in mind the type of sessions you want to do and hand out cards accordingly. The friends who got the bulk of my cards were running an in-home daycare, so I got A LOT of young kids and families through them. If you're looking for senior sessions, hand out cards to friends who have HS-aged kids, or who have a babysitter who is in HS.

    As for weddings - I agree that being a 2nd-shooter is a great idea. When you're ready to go out on your own, talk to the local reception halls and get the names of some of the venders they recommend to their brides. Find out the most-commonly used florists, cake shops & bridal boutiques and go in to talk to them in person. DO NOT just drop a stack of cards on their counter without asking...that's a quick way for you to earn a bad name in their book & to waste money on cards that will end up being thrown away. Maybe work out a trade with the owner - you take product photos of their floral arrangements, cakes, gowns, etc for their websites/advertising - you get to use the images as part of your portfolio, and they agree to display your card in their shop. Again - if they have a positive professional experience with you, they'll be more likely to mention you if someone asks....and brides DO ask the other vendors for their opinions. You could try a similar deal with a non-chain jewelry store, too - which would likely lead to engagement sessions as well as weddings.
     
  9. Sachphotography

    Sachphotography TPF Noob!

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  10. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    I posted on Craigslist, offering free sessions to build a portfolio.
     

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