Photography branding and marketing

Raised hands holding different photocameras.

By Adobe Communications Team

Posted on 08-24-2021

The line between professional and amateur photographers has been blurring for years. According to Forbes, in many U.S. states both employment opportunities and annual salaries for photography pros have been declining, thanks in part to the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices. More cameras in more hands can mean more of a challenge to distinguish your art, vision, and style as a pro.

Marketing and networking guide for photographers

That’s the not-so-good news. The good news is that ever-evolving tools like Photoshop and Lightroom mean it is easier than ever for photographers to establish a brand identity that is all their own — and stick to it. Meanwhile, the rise of digital platforms means today’s photographers are no longer dependent on galleries and gatekeepers to get their work in front of fans or find clients. Additionally, resources and communities are constantly cropping up to help photographers of all backgrounds advance in their careers.

In short, knowing how to take and edit beautiful photos is important. But knowing how to develop and market your personal brand is critical in today’s crowded marketplace. Here’s how.

Branding for professional photographers

For photographers to stand out from the crowd, they need their own vision and brand — whether it’s surreal landscapes or intimate family portraits. Being authentic and true to your style is vital to building trust with your audience, especially if your audience is paying for your work. A couple who hires you to shoot their beachside elopement, for example, will expect their wedding photos to feel a lot like other shoots of yours they have seen. The same is true for magazines, ad agencies, local businesses, and countless others looking for eye-catching images to fill their pages, sites, walls, and billboards.

In the past, recreating the same look and feel across images and shoots meant a deep knowledge of darkrooms and chemical processes. Not anymore. Features like Lightroom’s batch editing have opened up new frontiers of consistency by allowing photographers to apply edits across any number of images with the click of a button. Preset filters enable them to standardize lighting, shadows, and saturation levels shoot after shoot. And for those looking to incorporate the same features — be they stars, symbols, or patterns — in image after image, Photoshop makes it as easy as copying and pasting.

Innovation and experimentation are critical to every artist’s growth. But when it comes to curating a professional portfolio, it’s best to think of yourself as a brand. This means balancing the need to stay fresh, on-trend and true to a consistent and authentic aesthetic. Fortunately, you are not on your own. By embracing the latest photo-editing technology you are saving yourself hours of guesswork and time-consuming and tedious labor. Better yet, you are setting yourself up for a successful, sustainable career.

Developing your online presence

So you’ve got a personal style you are proud of. Now comes the hard part — promoting it. Consumers, artists, and other businesses today expect to be able to discover and engage with each other online. Bringing your artistic and professional identity online — along with your portfolio — can be the key to securing new clients and business opportunities, and to showcasing your reputation. Word of mouth can still make or break a small business, but those words increasingly circulate further and faster in digital spaces than within the non-digital realm.

The opportunities available to you as you build out your online presence are virtually limitless — from email marketing campaigns to social engagement and showcasing your portfolio in the most accessible medium possible, going digital as a professional photographer is in many ways the real signal that you are not just another somebody who likes snapping pictures of their food and friends.

Optimizing your website

Website optimization is the art of ensuring a frictionless, user-friendly experience to visitors. It’s the “process of using tools, advanced strategies, and experiments to improve the performance of your website, further drive more traffic, increase conversions, and grow revenue.”

As a photography business owner, one of your goals should be to position your website at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). To do so, your website must apply basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. This includes creating a user-friendly website. To be user friendly, your website must:

As far as specific site sections go, the following are a must:

Don’t stop there. By incorporating original content into your site, you will be boosting not just your site’s overall SEO but your own credentials as a photographer. The easiest way to start is with a blog, where you can tell client stories, highlight your own journey to photography, or provide helpful how-to’s demonstrating your expertise in a specific area. Other ideas for your blog as a photographer include why you use the gear you do, basic photography terms and tips, and what sets you apart from others in your niche.

The more content you have that is relevant and relatable, the more linkable your site becomes. Earning links to your site and making sure it is listed in vendor directories can help increase traffic and improve your outreach.

The content you create should not always be full of text — you are a visual artist, after all. You should bring diversity to your content to capture and hold your audience’s attention. Other ideas for content that can help boost your site’s SEO are:

If you find yourself unable to come up with content, you may want to try researching your competition. Take a moment to analyze what they are posting about and what you are not, but should be — but make sure that you are authentic and original with your work.

Marketing and networking through social media

Because social media is how most people today digitally connect with each other and gather information, photographers must create their own online presence. This includes having social media accounts dedicated to your photography.

Continually posting pictures and engaging with people through a dedicated “content” plan is beneficial for your social media marketing strategy. Doing so not only gets your work out into the world, but allows potential clients to connect directly with you. Your strategy should include:

Social media is one place where having a consistent aesthetic really pays off, especially in your feeds. That said, there may come a time when you will want to edit photos on the spot — that’s where programs like Photoshop Express come in handy. It allows you to edit photos on the go, and give them your signature flair before posting.

Instagram

Instagram is arguably the most influential social media app for especially popular for sharing images. The design of the platform makes it intuitive and effective for image-based content. Similar to Facebook, a business page on Instagram gives you access to advertisement opportunities and the ability to analyze behind-the-scenes information. You can use an Instagram business account to generate revenue and increase your audience reach using the following:

Pinterest

Pinterest is a social media platform that helps users discover recipes, decoration inspiration, fashion ideas, and more — including photoshoot inspiration. Photographers who want to take their business to the next level can use Pinterest to promote their brand and inspire others, whether they are photographers or models.

Because Pinterest is a great platform for discovery, sharing your business will help others see that you can be the missing link for their query. For example, if a user types in “senior picture poses” into Pinterest, they are sure to see numerous results showing different poses high school seniors can strike in their photos.

If you have your photos on Pinterest (and any of them answer the “senior picture poses” query, for example), users will be able to find your page — which may ultimately lead them to your business and generate new sales leads.

This, again, is also why it is important to remain consistent with your branding to help reinforce what styles you specialize in as a photographer. And as long as you create your page specifically for business, you can include a Pinterest “shop” link with your posts, which can help generate sales.

Facebook

Although Facebook feeds are best known for sharing multimedia, including videos, news stories, and other entertaining content, the size and popularity of the platform also makes it a popular space for sharing images. Likewise, Facebook is one of the default platforms (along with Twitter) where people expect to be able to engage with businesses, brands, and professionals. You can use Facebook to promote your business with the help of multiple marketing tools embedded in the social media app. For example:

Behance

Connecting with potential clients isn ot enough. To really stay on top of the photographer field, you will also need to stay connected with your peers. Nowhere is that easier than on Behance, a global community of millions of artists from around the world. Showcase your own work while gaining inspiration from others, or tune in to another photographer’s livestream to learn the skills that will take your work to the next level.

Behance is more than a source of inspiration and learning. It can also be a source of employment. Just browse the “Jobs” section, using filters to select for freelance or full-time work, as well as internships.

Networking opportunities

Networking online is a must, but shouldn’t necessarily replace networking in person. Here are a few great places to start.

Professional photography organizations

Professional organizations lead to opportunities for collaboration, insider insight into professional opportunities, and the discovery of resources you might not otherwise hear about.

Some professional photography organizations include:

Workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities

Put yourself (and your work) out there

Regardless of your photography style, it is vital you market your business using social media and face-to-face networking events like workshops. Not only will this better your skills as a photographer, but it will better your business in general — clientele and all.

Topics: Insights & Inspiration, Advertising, Media & Entertainment, Creative Cloud, SEO Features

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