5-step process to get camera time with the clients you want

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on March 29, 2017

in This is Business

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Here’s a simple (not easy) 5-step process to get camera time with the clients you want:

(This applies more to business clients for commercial work, or buyers for editorial, landscape, or travel work, but is a great exercise for portrait photographers as well. Try this on local politicians, big wigs, and influencers.)

  • 1. Make a list of potential clients (for free or paid work, either way).
  • 2. Approach, show portfolio, make offer.
  • 3. If yes, book it! If no, ask, “I want to work with you guys in the future. What can I do to be the perfect photographer for you? Better art? Better ideas?” Let them give you invaluable feedback on why they said no instead of yes, so you have real, specific goals you can work toward to make yourself more valuable to potential clients. (pro-tip: Keep asking “And what else?” until that feedback is exhausted.)
  • 4. Tell them you’ll follow up in six months. And then do it. Show your work; show how you listened and improved.
  • 5. Repeat this process until you get to yes, or you get a no so definitive or outrageous that you can very comfortably write them off as someone you don’t even want to work with. (Set this threshold pretty high…)

It takes some organization and calendar scheduling to work this process well, but boy does it get results.

Then once you feel you’ve got the experience you need (and you may never ‘feel’ that, but you can get yourself there intellectually) and you’re ready to charge, you’ll have contacts, portfolio, testimonials, a network, repeat clients, referrals, everything you need for a successful launch.

Is this useful to you? This is exactly the kind of content I send out to my e-mail subscribers every week for free. You can subscribe in the top-right corner of any page on this site, or just drop me an e-mail.

What’s the biggest challenge holding you back today? E-mail me at james@banderaoutlaw.com and let me know.

– James Michael

P.S. Know that if you’re the type to wait for the clients to come to you, the photographer across town who deploys this process is going to be taking food off your dinner plate within 6-18 months. If you have social anxiety that’s a different ballgame (e-mail me and let’s talk about your unique photography sales funnel), but if you’re just being lazy or uppity about hustling for clients and feedback, tough love: GOYAKOD.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

super secret name April 11, 2017 at 10:57 am

Hey James,

Long time reader, we also emailed back forth a while ago. Then I dropped out as my part-time photography was not going good and it was a bit embarrassing.

But just wanted to tell you that randomly I am getting a lot of referral business. It was one client whose photoshoot was free. A few years later she referred me to her friends and now her friends are referring me. Totally, unexpected. I am starting to feel great again.

Anyways, keep this anonymous because not sure how long it will last.

But just wanted to says thanks, I learned a lot from you.



Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor April 11, 2017 at 11:06 am

That’s awesome! You never know when the seeds you plan are going to bear fruit. Keep up the momentum, and if you want to work out a plan to do so, just drop me an e-mail and we’ll work it up. Congratulations on the well-earned wins!


robert varnado June 22, 2017 at 12:09 am

I am so glad I stumbled upon your page. The info you share is encouraging me to continue on. I now have the free time to pursue my business and now it’s time to learn it as a business. I love photography as an art form but have struggled in how to translate that into a consistent business. This newbie will be sticking around for a while.


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor June 22, 2017 at 8:22 am

Thank you so much Robert! If you’d like help coming up with a 30-day plan for what’s next, don’t hesitate to drop me an e-mail.


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