This week, I dropped a photography podcast that outlined the entire process of working with clients in photography. Of course, the process I talked about is regarding travel photography. But, I do think it’s the same no matter who you’re working with. In fact, I honestly think this probably goes beyond photography.
So, have a listen to the podcast below. Or, I’ve also included some “jot notes” with the process below it.
Are You Ready to Sell Photos?
I think this is the thing that gets missed so often in photography. People are way too quick to try to start selling their photos. It must be the only trade in the world that people pick up the tool and immediately start asking how they can start making money.
But like any trade, you need to train first. You need to build the knowledge and skill set that allows you to deliver the quality imagery your clients are going to expect.
If you don’t deliver that quality, the clients are never going to work with you, and you risk getting a bad name in the industry. So, be sure you’re ready before you start this process.
Who’s Going to Buy Photos?
You’ve decided that you’re good enough to start selling your photos. Who’s going to buy your work?
I like to do a brainstorm session. A good old fashioned pen and paper brainstorm.
I’ll write down categories to start. So, in travel it might mean hotels, tourism boards, tour companies, airlines, etc. Then, I’ll find specifics based on the destination I live or operate in. I’ll make a list of potential hotels and hotel chains. I’ll list all the tourism boards. I’ll figure out which tour companies and airlines operate in my area. All of these people are potential clients. As are all the magazines and newspapers that might be interested in a story from your region.
You’ll quickly realize that there are hundreds of potential clients you could contact.
How to Contact Potential Photo Buyers?
There’s this crazy site called “google.com” that basically allows you find any potential client. If you’re trying to get a hold of a client to pitch, chances are their contact is on their website which you can usually find in a 2 second google search.
Once you’ve found the webpage and the contact page, search for either the PR or Media department. Generally, the Media department handles photo buying, but at times it’s the PR.
That’s who you’re going to pitch.
How to Pitch?
The pitch is the most important part of this project. If you botch the pitch, you’ll never get work. And, I’m not going to outline my pitch in too much detail here – in the podcast you can hear my entire pitch – but I will give some pointers.
For one, you should be using ethos, pathos, and logos. These are the modes of persuasion. Google them, they’ll help immensely in the crafting of your pitch.
The other important parts of your pitch are to get to the point. Keep things short. And, be sure that the pitch is personalized to each client.
Building a Contract
Now, let’s assume that the client has decided to hire you on for photography project. The next part of the process is signing a contract.
If you’re a photographer, and you’re not signing a contract for your jobs, you’re risking massive headaches. So, be sure to sign one. Luckily, most clients will build a contract for you. But, even if they do, be sure to read it and make sure the following things are included:
Usage Rights (non-exclusive, exclusive, etc.)
When will you be paid?
How will you be paid?
How much will you be paid?
Terms of contract termination
It’s funny, but the easiest part of being a photographer is the delivery. It’s taking the photos. It’s completing the “checklist” of things you need to do for a client, and what you need to submit to them.
Most photographers these days will send their client a batch of their work via dropbox and let the client decide which they want.
For example, if a contract says that the client will get 20 images, you might send them a folder of 100 images and let them pick their favourite 20.
This is a part that I think a lot of photographers miss. I think that after every project you do for a client you should put together a report. On that report include things like: social media stats, images delivered, costs, etc.
It’s obviously not necessary, but putting together a report from a trip tells the client that you care. And, they’ll be wowed that you’ve gone the extra mile.
Getting paid for your photography is usually simple. Almost every client pays after all the work is delivered. That payment often comes 30 days after the images are delivered. Sometimes, I do ask for part of the contract to be paid up front to help me cover costs. But, in general, you don’t see money until you’ve shown results.
It’s shocking to me how many photographers do send a thank you to their clients. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, but a simple thank you to a client goes a long way. Let them know you appreciate them trusting you.
If a contract is big, you might even want to go a step farther. For example, I’ve sent a printed photo shot on the assignment to a client afterwards. They’ll love you for it. And, again, it shows you care.
Continuing the Relationship
Just because you’ve finished a project doesn’t mean the relationship ends. Especially if the client liked your work, as soon as you’re done the project you should begin to work on the pitch for the next project. When a photography client likes your work, they’ll want to work with you time and time again.
Don’t let that client forget about you.
I’m here in South Africa and things are great. I can’t wait to get out and explore a bit more. However, over on the YouTube channel I still have a couple vlogs from Northern Ireland. There area a couple blog posts coming from that trip as well. The trip was incredible – and featured highlights like taking a helicopter flight along the north coast. Unreal. Lots of fun on its way on the blog!