Today I’m going to tell you exactly why no one is hiring you for photography. This is not just coming from a photographer, but from someone who know how to recognize quality photography. More than anything I’m your potential client looking at tons of photography websites and social media trying to find a photographer.
I’ve been going nuts these past few days looking for someone who is professional, has a specific style, and is local.
First my background, I’m a seasoned photographer (now less than part-time so I have my weekends). I’ve been to workshops, seminars, and been published. I have met some of the top names in photography (mainly wedding photography). Now, having a family of my own, I am wanting photos where I’m included. This meant I had to actually hunt for a local photographer. Now I was under the impression that the market was over-saturated. It is, but not in a good way. There were a lot of photographers, but not much I would consider hiring.
Did I make these mistakes when I started out? HELL YES!!! Everyone does. In fact, everyone makes nearly ALL these mistakes no matter what they tell you.
Why No One is Hiring You for Photography
Your Portfolio is Inconsistent
It’s like you’re a bit schizophrenic. You post images using so many different actions, styles, and subject matter a client is freaked out because they have NO IDEA what they are going to get on their session from you. Will it be your bright vibrant style, your dark hazy style, or something totally off the wall??? They are only drawn to perhaps one type of style and seeing so many makes it too risky to spend their money on you. They are scared out of their minds what you’ll come up with, so they run.
Your Website Is Not Mobile Friendly
My search took me well into the night, meaning I was in bed on my iphone still searching. If your site is hard to view or navigate on my phone, I’m on to the next. Photos too large and not resizing for my screen size? Nope.
It’s Too Hard to Find Your Contact Info
I get the feel of your style and like it, your portfolio speaks to me, but then I’m looking everywhere for your contact info and can’t find anything. Maybe the text is too small, your form doesn’t work, too many required fields that do not apply to me, no where to ask specific questions, etc. I’ll only try so hard, then be off to the next site.
It’s too Damn Hard to Find Your Location
MOST people want to hire a local photographer to avoid travel fees. It’s only natural. Especially for portrait sessions. If they can’t find this information on your About Page or Contact Page you are making it too hard. If I have to read too much text to find it in there somewhere, it’s too hard. Make it easy, or I’ll have to find someone else who will.
You Have No Clear Target Market
Now I’m all for having many areas you are able to shoot in. Fashion, Portraits, Weddings, Family. That’s NOT what I’m talking about here. It’s more of your aesthetic. So yes, this also relates to what I said about a schizophrenic portfolio. You need to have a style. You need to be good at SOMETHING. You have to speak to SOMEONE, or you’re just speaking to NO ONE. Do you want to attract rockers with tattoos? Rich girls who love lots of crystals and bling? Boho girls with flowers in their hair? Modern fashionistas with vibrant colors? WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO?????? If you do all these styles and work with all kinds of people you have no market. You are not the go to photographer for any type of person. I know how hard that is to accept starting out. I’ve been there and I’ve fought that fact tooth and nail. In the end you have to choose, so who do you want to work with?
Unflattering Poses and Bad Angles
All it takes is me seeing ONE unflattering pose for me to get scared and run. It makes me think you shoot whatever and don’t take the time to pose your client correctly. This has been the hardest for me to see. Sometimes I see photographers with a beautiful style I just DIE FOR. The colors, the feel of the images. It takes my breath away. Then I see a woman posed with 5 chins. That one image sadly makes me click off your site. Shooting MOST women from below is just wrong. It’s hard to find a woman that can pull that off and it’s easy to learn posing. Hop on Creative Live and take some posing classes online with Sue Bryce or who ever you fancy. The education is out there. I don’t want to be shot in an unflattering way. I’m not a super model. You have to learn how to pose real people. You can make people look their best. It’s not making them look different. I’m not talking about photoshop, just posing alone can make an image. Something else I noticed was when having say 3 or so girls next to each other in a shot. One is a bit too far back and blurry while the others are in focus. That image is bad. Take the time out to make sure everyone is in the right plane before taking that photo. Just a little bit of time and care makes a huge difference! I know the stress of getting the shot with a tiny amount of light left or you have to run to the next event. For things like this, it is worth the time. That extra moment makes the difference.
Angles and framing an image matter too! Learn the rule of thirds and make sure you are taking into account every little detail in that image. If something is ugly or off in the background, move it or move everyone else. You’ll thank yourself later come time to edit.
Over Use of Actions, Vignette, or Sloppy Effects
I know we get excited with each trick we learn in photoshop and may get carried away at first. As time goes on you need to do away with the tired old effects. Not every image requires a dark or light vignette. I’m going to be very honest here and say I would lean on just not using this ever. Is that my opinion? Yes. Still I feel most people don’t use it correctly and it ends up being one of the effects I most cringe at. I don’t want to hire someone I have to tell to not use lots of vignette, so I just won’t hire them. It’s more a dark vintage style of editing and I’ve seen it used in images that would be just prefect without anything. It ruins so many images and makes me sad. Please remember less is more. You don’t need it!
Actions are wonderful tools. But be careful with those too. I see a lot of photographers purchase Florabella actions. They are great, but remember to tweak them even a little depending on the specific image you are working on. Just be careful with that and to double check something really works before you go with it.
I’m not going to get into too much contrast, over use of skin blurring, or selective coloring. That’s been said a lot elsewhere. Just watch those too.
Blurry Images or Bad Lighting
OK blurry images and bad lighting images sometimes happen. It’s obvious you should educate yourself to prevent this from happening in the future as much as possible, but most importantly DO NOT POST THESE ON YOUR PORTFOLIO. Learn from this and do better next time, do not ruin your business by showing these images. Sometimes you’ll be asked to shoot at noon on the hottest day of the year in an open field. Yes, the hard light will be awful. The sweat will shine the most beautiful girl’s face. It will not be pretty. No need to show these images anywhere. Just educate clients on proper shooting times and locations.
Whites of Eyes Unnaturally Whitened
This one I’m putting separate from my sloppy effects because it’s a rampant problem. It scares me! It looks like all your clients are possessed. You can take off some of the yellowish tones in photoshop by selecting the area then making it less saturated and vibrant. You want to remove the color from the eyes, but adding in lots of white is a bit more advanced and can go bad quickly. The same for the teeth. The whites of the eyes and teeth should be the same shade. It is better to leave them alone than have them stand out too much. This can also happen from over sharpening. So watch that too. Just remember subtle changes, not drastic.
Not Optimizing for Search Engines
Again remember people almost always look by location, location + subject matter (fashion – Family – Weddings – Portraits – Boudoir – etc), or venue. Pick a few areas and optimize for these keywords. Do it on your blog, About Page text, social media, hashtags, blog tagline, etc. You need to use keywords on image ALT tags like a mad person. Get your work searchable, findable, and be hirable.
Not on Any Social Media or Not Using it to its Potential
I have been searching for local photographers using hashtags, on Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Yes! This is normal now. Get on social media. Get your images out there. You don’t have to be everywhere, but pick one or two that work best for you and get all over them.
No Starting Prices
Now I’m searching for mid to high end portrait photography, so I’m willing to go to the $750 range. That’s not a problem. However, when I don’t see ANY price info, not even starting prices, I assume you are just way too expensive or want to research me to see how much you can get away with charging. I find it shady.
Also I’m lazy. I don’t want to reach out just to have to wait and wait and hear you’re out of my budget. Why get my hopes up just to crush it?
Not Being Clear About What’s Included in your Price (shooting time, images included, location fees, time frame until images are ready, etc)
I like working with people who are up front about what they charge and also what’s included in that price. Starting prices are fine as long as once I email you I get a DETAILED list of exactly what is included in your price. If images are extra, I’d like to know exactly how much too.
Not Emailing Back Within at Least Two Business Days
Come on people! This is still a business! I prize myself when clients tell me how I’m always so fast about email. I don’t like to wait and I know the longer I wait the more chance I have to change my mind or find someone else.
Try to have email templates ready to go! You know people want to know certain things before they hire you, have templates ready. Keep your schedule handy so you can easily find and give them next available dates. Whatever it is remember time is money. When I have to wait and wait to hear back from a photographer I imagine I’ll NEVER get my images back or hear endless excuses about why they are taking so long to edit. I don’t want to deal with that.
I hope none of these were too harsh and know that I’m coming from a place of love. I want you ALL to do better and be better. I want everyone to have tons of work and be successful. Your success is my success. Also I would desperately love to find more photographers (in Miami especially) that do these things. I can’t take my own family photos after all!
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To our success darling!