what are you selling?

How do you market yourself as a professional photographer? Thanks to the internet the answer to this question evolves continually (and there are lots of great answers to the marketing question available on the ‘net). But, at the core, marketing photography (or anything else) will always have its constants.

In the most simple terms, I think there are four basic steps to forming a marketing plan, whether you are approaching ad clients (ad agencies, client direct) or consumers (portrait, wedding, etc.):

1. deciding what services you want to sell

2. analyzing the market for those services

3. developing your identity

4. getting the word out

What professional photography services do you want to sell?

Okay, so you want to create large productions using the hottest fashion models of the day (like David LaChapelle). I can appreciate that. It might not be realistic at this point in your career, though. Maybe you only have a camera, lens and flash and that’s it. In that case you might want to concentrate on using natural light and shooting portraits on location. You might also find opportunities shooting for the local newspaper or ‘zines in your area. Try to find things that are within your capabilities just starting out.

Most importantly, pursue the kinds of photography you like and are good at. If you hate the thought of shooting weddings then don’t decide to do that just for money, at least when you’re first starting out. You may find yourself shooting weddings eventually for various reasons, but try to keep your focus as sincere and pure as possible in the very beginning. Enjoy being a beginner. Either you will find success that way or you will find it necessary to go outside your favorite realm in order to earn the income you desire. Just my thoughts.

Also be honest with yourself about any constraints you may have (lack of equipment, inability to travel, other obligations, etc.).