How do you find work?
Getting paid to take pictures is the dream, but you’ll need to find someone to stump up the cash first
Going out to find work is one thing, but the goal is to have clients come looking for you. A reputation for delivering high-quality images on time and to budget is key to getting commissions through word-of-mouth. “I get all my work through recommendations,” says Alex Bailey. “It’s one of those strange quirks. In the early days I did everything I could to make the phone ring, but for the past ten years or so I have done little other than to keep my website up to date – and the phone never stops ringing. I’m not complacent about my success, though, and make an effort to keep my work looking fresh and adopt new styles and ideas all the time.”
If you’re just starting out then you’re unlikely to have built up enough word-of-mouth work to
Never underestimate the power of the internet, and especially social media. A lot of my requests come from people who’ve seen my work online… I send images to a library and an agency, but most of my better sales have been via direct contact
Richard Peters, wildlife photographer
sustain your business, and you’ll need to consider advertising. As we’re all aware, the internet has been a game-changer as far as marketing is concerned; it’s not so much about knocking on doors to show your work as it is about pinging the inboxes of the right email accounts. While some pros bemoan the plummeting price of stock images and the ‘stealing’ of low-res images online, there’s no getting away from it: if you want
to sell shots, you need to have your best work available online.
“It’s important to put together a good website,” agrees Mark Pain. “It’s the shop window for your skills and is now the first point of contact for future clients.”
Mark suggests that you should try to develop a style all of your own. “That’s sometimes what a client is looking for,” he says. “With 20 years’ experience, I’ve built up a body of work that clients are attracted by, but you have to keep reinventing yourself to remain fresh. For instance, I’ve recently started to shoot full 360-degree action images of sports for the first time.”
Internet visibility doesn’t cost the earth – in many cases it’s free. Flickr, 500px and Behance are great places to start. A social media presence is important too, but only if you can commit the time to keep it updated. Getting a website doesn’t have to be expensive, either. There are plenty of free or low-cost photography-friendly themes for the Wordpress blogging platform that can get you started. These days you don’t need a degree in CSS to be able to create a slick online portfolio, but an ability to write engaging blog posts certainly helps – and can open up opportunities for paid work, too.
“I started a blog to write about the various aspects of wildlife photography,” reveals Richard Peters. “In doing so I also began getting requests to write for others too. That pushed my work towards an even bigger audience and it built up from there.”