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6 Ways to Stand Out as a Professional Photographer

With the advent of smartphones, photo apps, filters, and social media, it seems like everyone is a photographer. Just snap a picture, do a little editing, maybe add a filter, and voila! The photo is now Instagram ready.

Plus, there are so many creative and talented photographers who are carving spaces in the professional photography market.

It may seem like a saturated industry, and in a way it is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out and make a name for yourself. It doesn’t mean that if you have goals of starting a photography business that you should just give up now because there is too much competition.

Even if your niche is highly popular, you’re able to bring your own style and creativity to it. And people are hungry for fresh, creative content to fill their feeds, wedding albums, and frames with.

Don’t let the crowds scare you. Here are 6 ways you can challenge yourself and shine a light on what you bring to the photography market.  

1. Practice your people skills and network.

As a photographer of any kind you can expect to work with other people. If you’re a wedding photographer, you’ll be working with the couple, guests, and vendors. If you’re a travel photographer, you might need to interact with people to set up photo shoots. And people skills come in handy when marketing your services and networking with people in the community.

To stand out as a professional photographer you need to put yourself out there, join photography groups, attend networking events, and practice speaking and interacting with clients in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

two hands rest on the keyboard of an macbook laptop that is displaying the image of a camera lens. A cup off and an iPhone sit next to the laptop.

2. Work on the behind the scenes stuff.

You may be behind the camera for a good chunk of time, but in order to stand out and make a name for yourself, you’ll also need to spend some time behind the laptop. This means working on things like maintaining a website/portfolio, incorporating SEO into your web content, editing your photos, staying in touch with past clients, sending out email newsletters, making videos, writing blog posts, and sharing your best work.

The goal with all of these is to open a door to your world so that people can take a look inside and get interested and engaged.

If you find that some of these to-dos are outside of your realm of expertise and/or you can’t find the time, you can always hire a team to help you. There are plenty of talented and experienced writers, virtual assistants, social media managers, and the like to help you get where you need to be.

A man with a black button up shirt and a closely trimmed beard stairs into the camera while holding a camera at his side

3. Let your personality shine.

Clients don’t always decide to hire a photographer on talent alone. Buyers often make purchasing decisions based on emotion and how they feel about the person behind the lens. That’s not to say that your skills are overlooked, only that you are also part of your brand and clients love getting to know “real” people, not just service providers.

So let your personality shine through your online presence. Create an About page that tells your story and shares your values, quirks, hobbies, or anything that makes you you and that you feel comfortable sharing with strangers.

You can also share more personal things on social media, like behind-the-scenes peeks, works in progress, and live videos.

People don’t like being constantly sold to, but they do love being entertained, educated, and feeling connected to the brand.

Two hands rest on the keyboard of a Macbook laptop.

4. Tell the story behind the photo.

While it’s true that a photo is worth a thousand words, it’s also true that some photos make more of a connection when accompanied by a story.

Make it a practice to pair some of your shared photos with a caption that gives readers a deeper look into the scene. Tell the backstory, describe what was going on, point out funny moments leading up to the scene, share what the mood was like or how you felt taking the photo.

It’s these more personal anecdotes that engage audiences, stir emotions, and help you stand out as a photographer.

5. Go above and beyond for your clients.

In a crowded market it’s not enough to just meet the client’s expectations. If you want to be remembered, to stand out and get referrals, you’ll need to go above and beyond in your customer service pursuits. Give clients a reason to remember their experience working with you.

Aside from communicating with your clients and delivering high quality photos, you could also offer them coffee and doughnuts at your first meet up, bring a bridal emergency kit to the wedding, send a thank you note to your latest client, etc.

Little things make a big difference!  

6. Continue developing your photography skills.

Plenty of people have DSLR cameras, and even more have smartphones, but not all of those people have what it takes to master professional photography. Only those who keep evolving, working on every aspect of their craft, and challenging themselves to learn and grow as a photographer will stand out and stay a step ahead.

Don’t stop moving forward. Push yourself through the crowds, put yourself out there, and you’ll have no problem standing out as a professional photographer.

Related: How to Use Social Media to Bring in New Photography Clients

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