How to get your first client in a new photography business – the Your First Customer Series

by Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor on September 21, 2010

in This is Art,This is Business,This is Life

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Here you go, mates – a complete list of all 10 posts in my Your First Customer Series:

Part 1: How can I find time to be a part time photographer?

Part 2: Top 10 money-making outdoor photos of people

Part 3: What should I charge for my part time photography?

Part 4: How do I get my first photography client?

Part 5: How to prepare for your first photography client’s call

Part 6: Your pre-photo-shoot checklist in four easy steps

Part 7: Your first photo shoot: expectations and results

Part 8: Culling and post-processing your first photo shoot

Part 9: Your first photo proofing and sales session

Part 10: How to earn lifetime photography customers with the perfect follow-up

There are three major steps to starting your new photography business: making the decision to become a part time professional photographer, doing the legwork and prep work to set your new business up right, and landing your first customers.

The Your First Customer Series offers 10 in-depth articles covering all the minute details you rarely hear about elsewhere – where to find the time to be a part time professional photographer, the top 10 money-making portraits (easily the most popular post on the site), and much, much more. This series has more content than you’ll find in most high-priced eBooks, with no filler – it’s the best advice I can give having been there, done it, and come out happy and paid on the other side.

Next Steps

  • It’s a long journey, from making that life-changing decision to become a part time professional photographer, to landing your first customer and first sales. As they say, the longest journey begins with the first step. Start with Part 1 and work your way through each part in this series, and you’ll be better prepared than you ever imagined for taking on your first clients.
  • Brainstorm session: What is your greatest fear about your first client photo shoot? What’s the worst that could happen? What potential rewards exist if things go exceptionally well? How can you prepare to give yourself the best odds of a great experience for you and your first client? File this in your Brainstorms folder.
  • My writing at exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to click the free “Subscribe” link at the top of any page of this site.
  • What’s the story behind your first paid client photo shoot? Were you nervous? Did they buy? Was it as fearful as you thought it would be? Leave a comment below, e-mail me, or call or text me at 830-688-1564.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike January 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Just an FYI – the link for #6 “Your pre-photo-shoot checklist in four easy steps” takes you to the page for “Your first photo shoot: expectations and results”. Just wanted to let you know.


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor January 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Good catch Mike, many thanks! Duly updated. Thank you for your readership!


KeenYahElle December 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

*sigh* Thank you so much for this web site : )


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor January 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

You are most welcome KeenYah, thank you for your readership! I really enjoyed looking at your Flickr page this evening, such lovely nature work! Can’t wait to see your portraiture work when and if you go down that path. Please do keep me posted on your adventures!


Oona August 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm

So thrilled to have found you!! I am an amateur & found you while trying to name my business (still working on that…). I have already booked 3 senior sessions, 2 family sessions & just this morning, was made the official photographer for a contestant in the Miss Teen USA pageant. So happy to have this series to refer to as I embark on this adventure. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor August 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Congratulations on your successful bookings and official status with Miss Teen USA! That’s an exemplary start for any photographer, be proud of the great work you’re obviously doing! Please do keep me posted on your continued success and adventures!


Kim LeCompte May 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm

This site is amazing! I’m just now getting into photography and love it:). Oh, and I know Bandera very well….we have a weekend home there on the Medina River. What a great place to take photos. DFW is our “reality” home — with lots of hills, horses and trees here thankfully:)


Outlaw Photographer James Taylor July 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Kim, thank you so much for your comment and kind words!

Bandera has been a wonderful place to grow up and do business. Far enough from the city to enjoy the country and quiet, but close enough to enjoy adventure for myself and my kiddos!

I love visiting DFW, always for journalism and photojournalism workshops at TCU. It’s a fun place to visit!

Thank you again! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


kc7769 July 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Hi, im just beginning my own photography business. im just not sure where to take it, i adore taking photos of newborns. i have took some of my own son, which i posted to my blog. can you advise me on what i should do next to develop this into something further. Thanks in Advance. kylie


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor May 25, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Kylie, thank you so much for your comment and readership!

Greatly enjoyed visiting your Facebook tonight and admiring your portfolio. You’re doing wonderful work for your clients!

Getting started is always the hardest part of any venture, and turning art and passion into a paid profession is no small step out of your comfort zone.

Your basic goal starting out is to land your first client, or your next client. It takes the overwhelming scope of “How do I market myself? Do I buy advertising? Who do I want to shoot with? Who would want to shoot with me? Where do I find these people? Ahhhh!” and turns it into a simple question: who’s my next client?

Early on, keep your focus tight, Own Your Zip Code. Do your neighbors know you’ve gone pro? Your friends and family? Have you asked them to share your work and offerings with their circles? Just putting in a good effort marketing in your own back yard so to speak can build that initial momentum you need.

As you start the ball rolling, begin to challenge yourself to explore, brainstorm, and find the answers to deeper marketing questions:

Who is my ideal client? What kind of subject or person or personality do I absolutely love to work with?

Where do these people frequent? What social networks are they on? What are their hobbies? For example, if you love newborns, where are the moms of newborns experiencing life? Are there local mommy meet-up groups? Is your work on the walls of your local hospital maternity ward? Do the local doulas and midwives know who you are and what you do? How about your local pediatricians? Kids resale shops? Where is your nearest Babies R Us or similar store, and would they be open to hosting a photo mini-shoot event one weekend?

What makes you different from your competition? What’s your Unique Selling Proposition? What makes you the best choice for your ideal client? How does your web site, your portfolio, your art, your social media, your business cards, your wardrobe communicate that difference?

You can get pretty deep in the weeds as you grow and develop your business acumen! Focus on bettering your art and experience for your clients while communicating your unique offerings to your target market of ideal clients. The more you shoot, the more you improve, the more you fail and learn, the faster you grow and become so much more valuable as an artist and service provider.

Your art is wonderful! Your eye for black and white portraits is just beautiful.

Thank you again for your readership, and please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


Kim July 7, 2014 at 8:37 am

So informative and so helpful! Thanks!!


Outlaw Photographer James Michael Taylor August 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Thank you so much Kim! Greatly enjoyed viewing your blog tonight – love your windowlight work from this week! You have a real talent – get in front of as many folks as you can so you can bless your clients with your art!

Thank you for your readership! Please do keep me posted on your successes and adventures!


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