Getting new commercial photography clients isn’t as tough as it seems! Here’s how to deliver a dauntless pitch and land your ideal brand clients.
Six Steps to Getting Your Dream Brand Clients
Commercial photography is the creation of images that will be used to sell: a product, a service, a dream—if you can buy it, it’s probably in a photo somewhere. Brands are the entities who book and direct these commercial photo shoots, so if you want to tap into the big world of commercial photo-making, you need to know your brands and understand how to impress them.
Here, we’ll outline the steps necessary to find and book your dream commercial clients!
#1: Identify Your Ideal Clients and Brands
Before you start out on your photography pitching journey, you’ll want to identify just who it is you want to pitch to. Ask yourself, “who are my ideal clients and brands?” and then spend some time creating a list of names, people, and brands you want to work with.
If your niche is fashion photography, you might search up editor’s names in magazines that have caught your eye and you might want to pitch. If product photography is your area of expertise, perhaps you want to browse through photographer brands you follow on Instagram to get inspiration.
Here’s a reminder not to be afraid of setting your sights on your most ideal clients and brands. In other words, if you dream of working with Vogue or People magazine, make sure you add them to your list to pitch! Even if you don’t email them right away, saving their email address and keeping them on your radar is a great way to cast a vision for the future of your photography brand and business. After all, everything starts with a dream, right?
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Be Intentional
When writing your list to pitch, make sure to select ideal photography clients and brands that resonate with your personal photography brand and style. Not only will it be easier to sell your vision and work to them, but you’ll be that much more passionate about working with them should the opportunity come to fruition.
#2: Curate a Swoon-Worthy Portfolio
Next, you’ll want to review your photography portfolio and make sure that it includes photos that your ideal clients and brands will swoon over. Allow me to break down exactly what I mean: The key is not only to present a portfolio of beautiful photos to your ideal clients, but one that they can connect to because it aligns with their brand identities.
If you find that your already existing photography portfolio doesn’t clearly align with the potential clients and brands you want to reach out to, get to work and have fun creating new photos! Remember, you want your future pitchees to identify with these photographs (and ultimately hire you), so create with them in mind.
As an aside, you might want to get some help from some of your industry friends and fellow creatives who can aid you in the process of creating new work. Bringing in a makeup artist to glam up your model, for example, or having the help of a stylist in coordinating wardrobe will greatly enhance your portfolio work. Email them and ask if they are willing to collaborate with you and offer them a copy of the digital images and photos you create as a thank you for their time and talent. In a way, you’d be pitching their work also so chances are, they’ll like the idea and be all about it!
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Get Mentored
Once you feel that your photography portfolio is ready for review, seek out the expert advice of people you trust, for example, a fellow photographer friend or former college professor from art school, to give you feedback on your work. Ask them: “If you were XYZ brand/brands, would you want to work with me based on my portfolio?” Two pairs of eyes are better than one!
#3: Educate Yourself on Your Ideal Clients & Brands
When the time finally comes to email a pitch to your ideal clients, you’ll want to make sure you’ve done your research on them and know their brands. Having this insight will help you propose ideas that are relevant and relatable to them and earn you brownie points as a plus!
Scrolling through their social media handles, checking out their website, and analyzing their imagery and overall creative aesthetic are all great methods of research. As an extra tip, take bullet point notes as you go, jotting down words or feelings that evoke their individual brand voice. For example, you might describe a potential fashion client as luxurious, bold, and colorful. (These notes will come in handy very soon; more on this in the next section.)
If your ideal clients see that you’ve taken the time to get to know their brand and invest in them, it’s much more likely they’ll be willing to invest in you. As the old saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Be Engaged
Make sure you’re following your ideal clients and brands on Instagram and other social media platforms, and like, comment, and engage with their content often! The more they see your name pop up, the more familiar with you and your work they’ll become. Social media serves as an excellent tool for connection; if you haven’t done so already, start capitalizing on it!
#4: Write an Eye-Catching Email & Deliver Your Pitch
I’m so proud of you for getting this far! You’ve made it to the most important step: it’s pitching time! Here are a few main points to keep in mind when crafting your email and reaching out to people:
- Start with a warm greeting and introduce yourself. Share who you are and the reason you are reaching out.
- Remember that list of “feeling words” I had you jot down a bit earlier? You’ll need that now. Pull it out and refer to it as you write your email making sure that your language is consistent with your potential client’s brand voice.
- Be sure to include links to your website and social media handles in your email. You want to make sure that the person you are reaching out to can view your website and your work quickly and easily.
- Establish a connection, and ideally, a personal one. Is your potential client your favorite shoe brand? Do you admire the way their product makes them stand out from others on the market? Tell them clearly and exactly why you want to work with them in your email.
- Instead of asking “If they want to work with you,” offer them something of value and address a possible need. What is your expertise and what can you do for them beyond simply providing a photography service? Show them why they need to work with you!
- Most people are very busy and don’t have the time to read through a long, drawn out email so ultimately, keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Personality Matters
When writing your email, aim to strike a balance between sounding professional while still allowing your personality to shine through. Just because you’re talking business doesn’t mean you have to sound uptight. Keep in mind that a logo or well composed image aren’t your brand, you are your brand! Make sure to be YOU!
#5: Make Sure to Follow Up
I truly believe that following up can mean the difference between sealing a deal or missing out on it completely! Personally, I can recall many times in my career when an opportunity came through because I made it a point to reach out a second time. The golden rule is: always, always, always follow up.
If a few days go by since you pitched to a potential client and you still don’t hear back, don’t assume that you’ve been ignored. Most people receive hundreds of emails at a time and your pitchee might have simply missed your email, or forgotten to respond, so you simply need to follow up!
When writing your follow up email, include a concise recap of your previous message and note that you realize that they might have missed it. This will not only remind them of you, but also serve as an indicator of how serious you are about working with them.
If you don’t hear back from them after following up, it’s ok! Take it as an experience in pitching and move on to the next ideal client on your list. With more pitching-practice and perseverance, you’ll eventually get a response!
#6: Repeat The Entire Process
Congratulations! You’ve officially pitched yourself to an ideal client and now it’s time to repeat the entire process over again. This may seem like an obvious final step, but I’ve included it to remind you that it is of utmost importance that you keep pitching!
To truly grab hold of more work opportunities out there and in turn, grow your photography business, you’ll need to start pitching consistently. I recommend setting a goal for yourself of how many potential clients and people you want to pitch to within a given timeframe like a month or a week. Personally, I’ve found one email per week to be a good number but find what works best for you. As you continue reaching out, the process will start to become easier and easier and soon enough, you’ll be well on your way to working with the clients of your dreams.
So there you have it, friends. Here’s wishing you the very best on your journey. Happy pitching!
Written and photographed by LAUREN ALEXIS RODRIGUEZ
Lauren is a Miami-based fashion and lifestyle photographer who believes, as Eleanor Roosevelt declared, that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”