In order to be successful in the family photography industry, you need to be dedicated to understanding how to run a business. In the realm of portraiture, specifically family photography, you will be working within a niche that caters to a unique set of clients in your city. To book and land continuous and consistent work, it is vital that you focus your attention and time on creating effective marketing efforts.
While capturing beautiful images is a key component, the photographs you create only scratch the surface of what it takes to have a successful career as a photographer. It is important to remember that aside from the real shooting of a project, there are various levels of marketing, advertising, and self-promotion that will need to take place. Here are several ways and techniques that you can use to market yourself as a family photographer.
Build Your Portfolio of Work
In order to attract your ideal clientele, you will need a portfolio of work that is visually appealing and captivating. In the family photography sector, it is especially important to have an array of work that cohesively fits together to represent your style, direction, and vision. When beginning your career in photography, you can build your body of work in several ways.
Many beginning family photographers begin their career by photographing people they know; family members, friends or even strangers they recruited. As a family photographer, you will want to build a portfolio of work encompassing various types of portraits. For example, you could create work by photographing couples, children, groups of friends or even individual portrait sessions.
Although it is essential to create a portfolio that reflects your specific niche, family photography is a flexible area. This is because traditional family portraits will consist of parents, children and even external relatives. In this case, if you can show your style and creative vision while photographing these individuals, then your future clients will be able to envision themselves within your images.
In your career’s infancy, this is the time for you to develop your certain editing style. Will you be a photographer with light, airy editing or something with more mood and emotion? Will you include bright colors or more desaturated tones? Will, you include a consistent pigmented theme or keep it fresh and simple? Whichever your direction you choose to take, it is best to determine this early on in your photography journey. Editing style and visual appeal can play a significant factor in why a client books you for a session over another photographer.
Once you have developed several sets of images, you will need to create a place to showcase your capabilities. This can most effectively be done by setting up your own website that markets and gives a visual representation of your images. It would help if you chose whichever platform is most accessible and most user-friendly for you, as well as a template that is primarily visual and can properly display your images. Once you have created the website, be sure to purchase your domain name and use this as the main point of contact when sharing your work with others. When the site is built and created, you can now begin to market your services fully.
Employ the Use of Word of Mouth
One of the most effective and virtually free methods of marketing is to employ the use of word of mouth.
Word of mouth is the process of having trusted individuals pass on and recommend you to people they know. Word of mouth is an organic process that usually occurs once you have worked with a client who was happy and satisfied with the images you created. People can also spread word of mouth within your inner circle – family, friends, close acquaintances – who promote your services when someone they meet may be looking for a photographer.
Word of mouth can deliver incredible results for your business because it is built off the concept and foundation of trust and satisfaction. When a potential client looks to hire a photographer, they are far more likely to search out recommendations from others and hire based on the positive reviews they have accumulated. If you are looking for your business to be spread through word of mouth, you must always aim to deliver a positive and unforgettable client experience. A group of satisfied and happy customers and positive reviews can always lead your business new opportunities.
Offer Small, Affordable Sessions
When starting your business, you may be tempted to set your session rates to align with other family photographers in your area. Although this may seem like an excellent way to stay on top of your competition, setting your prices is a gradual, building process that takes time.
Since your portfolio will be smaller than competing photographers, clients may be apprehensive to hire you at a specific rate that signifies experience. Instead of aiming too high at the beginning, lower your prices to reflect the infancy of your business. A great marketing technique is to offer small, affordable sessions to interested clients at a price they cannot pass up.
By charging a significantly lower price for your work, you are not claiming that it is not worth a higher rate, but instead, are using this as a way to introduce yourself to the market and allow clients with smaller budgets the opportunity to hire you. You can put together a handful of family projects by offering short, mini sessions such as 30 minutes for $20 and set a limit of how many photos you will deliver. Line up several of these in a day, and you will quickly begin to grow your book.
Additionally, with any beginning session you photograph – always over deliver to your client. Even if you say you will send 30-40 images, don’t feel as if you have to stick to these margins. If there are 50 great images from the session, send them all to your client. Happy customers are those who feel as if they are receiving the best value and experience for their money.
Create Printed Marketing Materials and Share them Locally
Although the majority of portfolio sharing and marketing initiatives are done through the Internet, there is still room for the effectiveness of printed marketing materials.
Printing materials to promote your business can be done in the form of flyers, business cards, and posters. You can design and develop your prints by choosing several of your best images to showcase. Create designs that can be easily read, visually appealing and contain all of your relevant information such as website, social media handles and the most accessible way to contact and book a session with you.
If you are utilizing the use of a flyer or poster, you can create a frame that markets a specific type of shoot you are looking to book such as “Now booking for Holiday Family Sessions through December.” Give your potentially interested clients added value and information while marketing your services. Be specific in what you offer and where they can view samples of your work.
Additionally, as a business owner and creative entrepreneur, you should always have an up to date set of business cards. A business card is still profoundly relevant in today’s networking world, as it is the one piece of physical information you can hand someone about your work and career. Although some argue that a simple internet search can be an easy way to find and connect with someone, a business card is the tangible reminder of an interaction, meeting or connection you had with another person.
When creating business cards as a photographer, you can choose to be as creative as you would like. You can either stick to a specific color theme and tone or venture out a bit and create a visual design featuring your images. Whichever you decide, your business card should always include your name, website, and phone number for contact.
Offer Your Services at School Events
Once you have begun to utilize the traditional methods of marketing, it is time to integrate yourself into the local community to seek out and acquire new clients.
As a family photographer, one of your largest and most important entities for networking is on school campuses. Schools are home to your most important and dedicated client – mothers. As most moms are the ones who will be in charge of planning any family photographs, it would be best for you to introduce yourself and become acquainted with those who are present at your local schools.
A great way to showcase your photography skills that will lead to new bookings, is to become an on-call photographer for school events. Most community and social gatherings for the students and parents will require a photographer to capture the event and use these images as marketing and advertising initiatives for the university. In this manner, not only will you have the opportunity to network while working the event, but your work will be widely spread across the print and web presence of the school.
In order to be considered for such opportunities, you may need to begin by volunteering your time with the school. Once you have established a solid professional relationship and repertoire, you can then approach the proper official to further discuss a long term relationship and compensation.
Remember that working within the school sector should be less of a quick financial gain, but more of a steady process of building up your network of clientele. Once you have established your name and services within such a tight knit community, you will definitely have a plethora of future opportunities coming to your business.
Find Opportunities Through Clubs, Sports and After School Activities
Similar to working and photographing school events, you can market your family photography services by seeking out opportunities through clubs, sports and after-school activities.
In these scenarios, you are not limited to just traditional school campuses but can branch out to integrate yourself within the local community. Some examples of places you can offer your services and time to build your network could be the local gym or student athletic center, sporting areas such as tennis courts, baseball fields and soccer matches or even local youth development clubs and afterschool activities for children with working parents.
Each of these entities requires photography to build and market their services to families with the community. Consult the online presence of your local community gatherings and choose a few clubs and centers that you feel could use more of a nice photography presence to strengthen their current marketing efforts.
Set a time to visit multiple areas and plan to talk or arrange a meeting with the director of communications. Bring in some of your sample work to show either through printed materials or a device to show your online book. Consult them about their current photography production and share some ideas you may have that can benefit and help build their communications strategy. Don’t forget to leave your business card as a method of contact and thank the director for taking the time to talk with you.
Within a few days of your meetings, send a short follow up emphasizing your gratitude and the eagerness you have to work with them on future projects. Whether you land this opportunity or are kindly rejected, you can continue to repeat this project with all relevant clubs in your area. It is very likely you will be able to build up a list of contacts and future photography opportunities that will in return increase and strengthen the marketing of your business.
Network and Collaborate with Children’s Boutiques
A final example of collaborative photography work is to reach out to children’s boutiques and discuss the potential of creating imagery for them.
Children’s boutiques will be seeking photographers who can create fashion portraits with their products. If you are approaching a local brand in your city, it will be best to frame your proposal as a collaboration rather than jumping too quick and asking for some type of compensation. You can start by inquiring about what kind of photography projects that have done in the past, what kind of content they would like to create and what mediums they aim to use to promote their brand.
If you’re able to secure a collaboration, this will be a beneficial step to building your portfolio creatively and uniquely. As much as family clients will want to see your images that pertain to them, many people are also interested in seeing the imaginative capacities of a photographer and what their scope of work can entail. For working with children’s boutiques, aim to create photographs that are candid, playful and full of life.
Create value with your images by including multiple locations, outfit changes and even creating your own set with design and props. If the boutique is satisfied with your images, they will most likely use them online, social media and in their season’s lookbook within the store. This work will not only give you another element to your portfolio but will offer great exposure to local clients who are familiar with the brand.
Use Social Media to Share Your Family Photography
In addition to using your personal website to show your family photography imagery, you can choose to share your work on various social media platforms. For family photographers, you should consider using Facebook and Pinterest as your starting points – these two platforms have strong demographics that correlate to the family photography niche.
Begin by creating albums on Facebook of your work and share via your personal Facebook profile. When you share on your personal page, you are allowing your friends to see and share the work you have been creating – this can be a seamless way to engage an organic word of mouth marketing initiative. On Facebook, you can also create your own business page dedicated to your family photography and invite family and friends to like and follow your professional journey. The demographic of Facebook has greatly shifted over the last several years, with current users consisting of older generations – married couples, families and even grandparents. Using Facebook as a marketing tool will allow you to reach the demographic that is specific to your industry.
As your business begins to build, you should direct your satisfied clients to your professional Facebook business page and kindly ask them to leave a review. As previously mentioned, reviews are king when looking to hire in the service industry. A new and interested family will be more likely to hire you if they can read and view several past client experiences.
Another social media outlet that caters to family photographers is Pinterest. With the simple act of “pinning” users can save and store images, they like directly to their profile. Additionally, Pinterest now offers a web button that allows you to pin content from all over the Internet to your boards. As with Facebook, Pinterest’s demographic is heavily geared to clientele such as moms and young, adult women who would be interested in hiring a family photographer. To allow people to find and pin your work, you should install the Pinterest plug into your personal website, this way visitors to your site can save any images they find inspiring to their own board.
In addition to these two platforms, family photographers can also use applications such as Instagram to promote their family photography. In this case, it may be best to create an account purely dedicated to this type of work, since most clients who find you on Instagram will want to see consistent images in relation to family portraiture. If you engage in any other kind of photography or want to use Instagram to share tibits of your personal life, then you will definitely need a new account to your family photography work.
Offer a Truly Unforgettable Experience for Your Clients
Even though utilizing marketing methods in the form of portfolio, social media channels and networking connections are necessary and essential to the growth of your business – the truth to a successful career in photography is offering your clients a truly unforgettable experience.
When working as a family photographer, you will be capturing significant and memorable moments for your clients. Unlike traditional portraiture, family photographs are often used as a way to mark life moments and will be cherished for years to come. With this in mind, you will want to ensure that you are not only capturing a family but encapsulating their essence, memory and spirit in this exact moment.
The right way to create an unforgettable experience is to always connect with your clients on a personal level. Show interest in their lives, find shared common ground and strive to make them feel special.
Lastly, be flexible in all matters about your client. This could include showing empathy if they are running late, understanding if the family dynamic is a bit crazy with the children or even showing adaptability if they want to change times or locations of their shoot.
Once the shooting has completed, remember to maintain communication with your client. Guide them through the image download process, deliver more than you promised and send them a thank you note for choosing you as their photographer. These little niceties will go a long way and show your client that their business was important to you.
Establishing yourself in the family photography business can be a smooth transition if you are dedicated to properly marketing yourself. By developing initiatives such as having a cohesive body of work, offering your time and skills at family driven events and networking with local parents, social leaders and entrepreneurs will allow you to develop a name for yourself in the industry. Most importantly, as a family photographer, you need to create an unforgettable and memorable experience for your clients. In this business, you are not just a photographer, but a storyteller and creator of moments that these families will cherish for years to come.
Are you a family photographer? Have you ever employed these techniques to market your business effectively? Let us know your thoughts and share your experiences in the comments below!