Photographers, this ones for you!! So you’re trying to build your portfolio. You want to book more of your ideal clients. Your portfolio is not longer just an album of photos. Here’s the thing- your portfolio is you, your social media platforms, how you show up in the world and the energy and feeling you leave people and give your clients. I’ll be talking about how you can attract your ideal clients later on but for now, let’s chat about bookable portfolios!
Portfolios should be home to your absolute best shots that you have. In my 1:1 mentor sessions, we talk quite a bit about the importance of your website (and so much more). One of the reasons being that there is no one else competing for someone’s attention once they’re on your site vs. on a social media platform so make your website home for your best work (and your socials, too). What does it mean to have a bookable portfolio? Your portfolio should resonate with the kind of audience you want to attract (whether they’re adventurous and candid couples, hippies, ocean lovers, traditional people), I think you get the gist. It should be filled with photos that relate to the work you want to bring in. GUYS, also remember that building a portfolio takes some time. But, start now. Start by setting up small or large styled shoots with just yourself and a model or include other vendors (word of mouth is huge so involving other creatives is good for business and also fun) and set a goal to do this as often as you want to. Let me know in the comments if you want to learn how to set up styled shoots and collaborate with people.
Keep that ball rolling photoshoot after photoshoot, keep producing content. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick 30 minute shoot or an hours long shoot, showing up in your work and putting yourself out there will help build your portfolio and also attract clients. When you keep shooting, you also learn more about different lighting conditions, working with different settings, posing/prompts and so much more. When you are getting more time behind the camera you will more learn more and gain experience. When I first started out, in order for me to grow my portfolio I had to work extremely hard to get that time behind the camera. Even a small photoshoot enabled me to grow and add to my work while expanding my creativity and honing in on my skills. Even if that work wasn’t entirely what I wanted it to be at first, it still helped me grow. And let’s be real for a second. If we waited until our work was perfect to put it out into the world, we would never put it out into the world. Because it’s never going to be perfect and we’re artists! We are so critical of ourselves. Which is a good thing but don’t let that stop you from doing it anyways and showing up. We all started right where you are! There’s no secret, it’s just taking the leap to get started and showing up in your business and that doesn’t just mean showing your work, that means showing you too!
This is a great way to grow your portfolio and gain more insight into the photography community! Collaborate with other photographers and learn from each other. I know the world of photographers can be really competitive but that stems from a scarcity mindset. Walk into this industry with a mindset of abundance (there aren’t enough clients vs. there are plenty of clients) and I promise you will also receive abundance. I’ve been really blessed in the world of photographers to have such an amazing community and as you put yourself out there, you’ll find your community too. Remember, rejection is inevitable so take it as a good thing! Collaborating is a fun way to learn from other photographers but also produce more content for YOU! Learning from others and having those conversations will open you up to amazing advice, find community and create with like-minded people.
Don’t confuse this with copying. Do you and edit your way and be true to yourself. I’m sure you’re familiar with trends at this point but there are trends in the photography community that come up every so often, grab those trends, do them and do it better. Or create your own trend. Shareable content are things that people relate to or that they think is amazing. So create shareable content and do it better than your competitors. Or, team up and collaborate with another photographer and tackle a trend together.
Social media is not as scary as it sounds. I have my Bachelors in Communications and Marketing and I’ve worked with so many brands and businesses in the past. Here’s the thing. People always want to know the secret to growth but you can literally google ways to grow and you will find SO MANY ways to grow that yes, work but the problem is not putting in the time, energy and effort to grow. It’s learning all these ways to grow and not applying them. It’s not about the numbers though, it’s about your impact on the numbers you have. Approach social media as something fun. Create relatable content. Be yourself and show off your work. Your people will come to you, I promise! But don’t get caught up in the numbers. Again, who you are matters to your brand and your portfolio. It’s no longer just about having awesome photos. People also book us for who we are so show YOU off and be confident in yourself to show up and show people what you’re about. I used to think people wouldn’t book me because I didn’t dress professionally online (hello, I live in Hawaii- I am ALWAYS in a bikini). Yes, I dress for the occasion but I attracted my people by just being who I am and not trying to be who I thought I had to be. Post the funny reels, share your face, talk about how cool you are and how much you love your job and share the not-so-good stuff too.
Want to dive deep into these topics and up-level your business? Learn more about my 1:1 Mentor Sessions!
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I'm Tay, a photographer and educator based in Hawaii. My passions are sharing stories of love, from couples to adventure elopements. And I am also an underwater and brand photographer with a heart for creating impact.
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