So you want to be a professional photographer? A how-to guide

Natalie DentonLjudi i događaji17 maj 20245 min za čitanje
BTS assets of Tianna Williams

Unlock the secrets of turning your passion for photography into a thriving profession with expert advice from our Ambassadors and Creators, from networking to gaining clients and discovering alternative revenue streams

The step up from serious enthusiast to professional photographer is an exhilarating yet challenging one. From networking strategies to client acquisition, maintaining relations to exploring alternate revenue streams, there are many things you’ll need to consider. Here, three esteemed experts across different genres share their secrets of success to help you enter the industry with confidence.

Natalie Denton
What’s in our Creators’ kitbags?
Behind the scenes shot of Gurvir Johal
Gurvir Johal

Weddings

Socials: Website, Instagram, Facebook

 

Nikon Creator Gurvir Johal, a Birmingham and London-based photographer, specialises in photographing Asian weddings across the globe, immortalising love scenes with his uniquely artistic yet photojournalistic flair.  

 
Gaining clients

“I’ve found that showcasing my portfolio in multiple channels is key to securing new clients,” says Gurvir Johal, who favours the Nikon Z f with NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2. To create a strong portfolio, he suggests these key five tips:

  • Only use the best images
  • Demonstrate versatility by showcasing a range of styles, subjects and settings
  • Arrange the images to tell a story
  • Regularly update your portfolio with new work
  • Always seek feedback

 

With a strong portfolio in place, Gurvir advises featuring it on your own website, as well as on social media. “A visually stunning website acts as my online storefront, giving potential clients a glimpse into my style and personality and the magic I create behind the lens,” he says. “Social media, meanwhile, is a fantastic tool for reaching a wider audience. For this I recommend regularly engaging with your audience, sharing sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes glimpses and client testimonials to keep your followers excited and inspired.”

 

As well as showcasing and networking, Gurvir reveals that staying visible and relevant in the minds of potential clients is vital. “This involves everything from attending bridal shows and expos to participating in styled shoots and community events,” he says. “By consistently putting myself out there and showcasing my passion for wedding photography, I’ve been able to establish myself as a go-to photographer for couples who want their love story captured in the most beautiful way possible.”

 

Top tip: “While booking clients directly is the primary source of revenue for wedding photographers, there are several other avenues that photographers can explore to diversify their income streams and maximise their earning potential. One lucrative option is to sell additional products. For me that’s wedding albums, wall art, digital downloads, licences and other personalised keepsakes.”

Tianna J Williams

Portraits, maternity portraits

Socials: Website, Instagram

 

Former nurse and midwife turned professional photographer Tianna J Williams specialises in maternity and newborn photography. Transitioning from capturing her own daughter's milestones to creating memorable experiences for clients, the Nikon Creator blends her medical background with her artistic eye to beautiful effect.

 

Repeat business

While securing clients might be the first step in getting any fledgling photography business off the ground, keeping those clients as repeat customers can help to sustain long-term survival, as Tianna J Williams, who favours the Nikon Z 8 and NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S, explains.

 

“I’ve found offering my clients special offers is a great way to get them to come back again. For example, offering them credit towards a new session,” she says. “For me a popular one is a ‘Baby’s First Year’, where I capture all the different significant milestones in the first 12 months, and then the child comes back yearly for updates. This strategy means I have been seeing some families every year since 2017.”

 

Tianna goes to on explain that building lasting relationships with clients isn’t just essential for the continued success of a business, but it’s actually rewarding and motivating, too. She advises staying in touch with clients via personalised emails, especially when their important milestones are approaching, and also keeping your client base as a whole updated with what you’ve been up to through newsletters and social media updates, where you can also advertise special deals or promotions such as referral incentives.

 

Top tip: “Invest in good accounting software to help manage your finances efficiently. I have an accountant, but I also use a number of online tools, one of which is Light Blue Software. It is actually a CRM (client management software), but it has the ability to help you manage and keep on top of your finances. I also use an app called Dext, which reports and marries up spending with receipts that I upload to the system.”

Laurence Griffiths

Sports

Socials: Website, Instagram

With a lifelong love for sports and photography, Laurence Griffiths turned his passion into a profession. Mentored by his uncle David Jones, a renowned professional photographer, Laurence embarked on a journey that led him to become an international sports photojournalist for Getty Images, covering countless sporting events across the globe.

 

Strengthen your network

While technology and social media have revolutionised the way people network since Laurence Griffiths first started out over three decades ago, he emphasises that cultivating connections remains just as vital for business success today as it was then. “Authenticity plays a pivotal role in forging genuine connections,” the Nikon Ambassador says. “By staying true to yourself, sharing your unique perspective and letting your personality shine through in your interactions and content, you can establish authentic relationships with others. Before reaching out to individuals on social media, take the time to conduct research on their background, interests and past projects. This understanding will enable you to tailor your communication effectively and establish a more meaningful connection.”

 

When initiating contact with industry professionals, Laurence, who is never without his Nikon Z 9, urges people to refrain from asking questions that can be easily answered through a simple online search. “Focus on posing thoughtful, specific inquiries that showcase your genuine interest in learning from them and engaging in meaningful dialogue,” he advises. “By approaching networking with sincerity and thoughtfulness, you can leverage the power of social media to advance your career in photography.”

 

Beyond social media, you can also network by attending industry events, conferences, expos, workshops, teaming up for a collaboration, being a pro’s second photographer or joining an industry-recognised association.

 

 

Top tip: “Explore alternative revenue streams beyond direct client bookings by venturing into editorial photography, supplying images to newspapers, magazines and digital media outlets. Stock photography offers another avenue, as does licensing and syndication of images.”

 

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