And so it begins …
- Direct Mail
- Cold Calls
- Source books and websites
These are all tools that we as photographers have at our disposal – to get our work in front of the right people. Photo marketing can be overwhelming to both young photographers and veterans alike. After all, if you had to deal with all of the above mentioned ways of communicating with potential clients, customers and fans, how on earth will you ever find time to actually do some photography?
This was my dilemma, and while I feel that my photography work is stronger than it has ever been, I’m quite aware of my weakness in marketing that work to the right people. It’s a jungle out there!
I know who I want to work for or target as customers, that’s the easy part:
Quite the list, right? Now all I have to do is go find them and let them know I exist. This is the not so easy part. I’m well aware of the fact that I, just like so many other photographers, need some help and guidance when it comes to putting together a marketing strategy. I know that I need a plan that will last longer than sending out a few emails or postcards, something that can tie in my skills as a photographer with a dedicated team that will help me realize my goals of landing some good new clients.
Reports and webinars and podcasts… Oh my!
I’ve read reports and interviews on marketing for photographers, I’ve listened to webinars and podcasts, and sure I’ve learned some things. However, I can’t copy what some other photographer is doing to market themselves successfully, since they don’t shoot what I do, and their circumstances are far different than mine.
It can get frustrating to listen to photographers with a small staff, talk about how they do their marketing. I have a staff of me, myself, and I. Equally frustrating, is listening to well-established photographers talk about spending tens of thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns, several times a year. That’s just not in my realm of reality. I’m an independent freelance travel and lifestyle shooter, with a very limited budget for self-promotion. Yet I do realize that marketing and self-promotion are both vital parts of what a professional photographer needs to do. Doing it all correctly while staying within my budget, now that’s the key to success.
Help! Yup, that’s right, I’m not above admitting when I need help. You can’t excel at everything in life, and I realize that at this point, I need some expert advice. I’ve always had a hard time delegating work to others. Somehow, it would always seem to me that I could do a better job than anyone else, or at least I would care more than the next person. This is MY life, MY photography, MY career, so who cares more than me? No one, but that still doesn’t make me the best suited person to promote my photography. In fact, I may be too close to my own work, just like so many other artists.
Now is the time to cross that bridge and let go of the reins a bit. I’m ready to put my faith in an expert in the field of marketing for photographers. Who am I turning to in my quest for new work, help with self promotion, guidance with targeting new clients, and a retooling of my brand? Say hello to Agency Access.
First things first: to get a better idea of where I want to go, I have to take a hard, honest look at where I am at in my career right now.
Where Am I Now?
Socrates’ guiding rule was, “Know Thyself.” Smart man that Socrates.
I’m a travel and lifestyle photographer with 20 years of experience in the commercial, editorial and stock photography game. I went from shooting fashion in the 90s to commercial lifestyle photography from 2000 on. In the last decade, I worked with various stock photography agencies such as Sharpshooters, Corbis, Picture Arts, Workbookstock, JupiterImages and Getty.
I was doing well shooting both assignment work and my own stock until about three years ago when the whole stock photo business kind of took a nosedive along with the rest of the economy. Those horrible microstock agencies that were selling third rate images for pennies, caused a devaluation of the whole stock photography market, to the point that I’m not sure it will ever recover. Most of the smaller stock photo agencies ended up being swallowed up by the two largest ones, and even though I still have my contracts with them, I don’t see much point in submitting work to them – at least for now.
Now I’m an ex-stock photographer who is looking to re-enter the commercial and editorial markets with a vengeance. I decided that if I was going to continue in photography, I would have to rekindle that flame inside me – the one that drives the passion an artist needs in order to do great work. So I decided to follow my dream to do the travel photography that I share on my blog today, and I haven’t looked back since.
But how do I stand out from the crowd?
On the Right Track
Something tells me that I’m on the right track. Tens of thousands of people now visit my blog each month. I also have over 25,000 followers on Twitter, and to my surprise, I get fan mail several times a week. How cool is that?
Now how can I turn this into a way to get new clients?
This is where Agency Access comes in…
I’ve signed up for the Campaign Manager Pro program that Agency Access offers to photographers and illustrators. This is where my professional consultant from Agency Access, Jennifer Kilberg comes in. Kilberg will be my advisor, my coach and guru. She will help guide me through all the different marketing and promotional services that Agency Access offers to photographers and illustrators. That’s not all. Jennifer will help me develop a consistent look in my branding and work with me on a new PDF and iPad portfolio.
Jennifer will also act as a consultant on image-selection for promotional pieces and for my online portfolio. This includes working with me to select the right images for my email and direct mail promotions, which I’ll be working on with graphic designer Nikola Lazarevic – who did the fantastic design work on my blog. I’ll also be working with Nikola on all the other design elements that will be touched on this year, including business cards, letterhead, a new splash page to my portfolio site, and design elements for my iPad portfolio.
Stay tuned for part two of this series on my Marketing Adventure with Agency Access. I’ll be writing about all the details of how I’m planning and implementing my marketing strategies over the next 15 months, with the expert help of the team at Agency Access. This party is just getting started. … and hey, who doesn’t like a party?
Enjoy the rest of my photo marketing adventure:
Justin Hamlin says
Best of luck Ken, you have a hell of a talent with a camera, glad to see others helping out so you can concentrate on putting your best shot forward!
Nomadic Samuel says
Ken, I really enjoyed reading this article. I’m becoming more serious about my photography but it’s nowhere near the level you’ve reached. I’ve enjoyed your photos and especially articles like this that talk more about the business aspect.
The Travel Chica says
It is really interesting to learn about your career and how you’ve come to your current marketing plan. Over the past year, I have started to understand how difficult it is to actually be a professional photographer. Just taking great photographs is not enough with the way the industry is today. I am glad you are going to continue to share your experience with us.
Great stuff Ken. I am heading out on a similar journey and look forward to what you come up with. Keep pushing the pixels brother!
Matthew Karsten says
Excited to see how it all turns out!
All of us who follow your work know you have absolutely nothing to worry about… :)
Very interesting post and lovely pics. Best of luck with everything.
and 2 comments totally unrelated to the subject of your post:
1) You made me reconsider my opinion on HDR: well done, the way you do it, it can be very compelling. (Almost tempted to thank you for that, but it also means that I had to think ;)
2) I think you would make brilliant pictures of the Gehry building on the MIT campus (Boston). Maybe that could be added to your to do list???
Carlos Garcia says
Ken, Sounds like a wise and logical next step in your artistic and professional career. Looking forward to your continued success my friend! Carlos
Not only are you an amazing photographer, but your writing is goooood! Love your blog. the end.
Ken Kaminesky says
Thanks for the support everyone! It is a challenging time in the photography field, but with the expert help of the Agency Access team, I really believe that I’m in good hands.
Diane, HDR gets a bad rap at times, but I always say that poor photography is poor photography, no matter the style. The same applies to the good. Glad you enjoy mine :) I love Gehry’s work all over the world, but would love to shoot in Boston one day. I’ve never been!
luca ponteggi says
your website and your photos are fantastic. my most sincere congratulations.
I just stumbled upon your website, and I’m glad I did: I totally love your work. Can’t wait to see more!