Featured Contributor Kat Gill shares her early lessons learned in this installment of our “What I Wish I Knew” series, chronicling the mistakes and revelations creatives made during their first years in business. We hope you find inspiration (and we’re sure you’ll find some commiseration!) in these stories. Here are Kat's top tips to maintain a consistent brand.
Reflecting on my first year as a photographer, I distinctly remember all too often feeling that I wasn’t shooting what I wanted to be shooting, and despite how much my clients loved their photos—I myself, was not in love with what I was producing. I wasn’t attracting the kind of clients I wanted, and I definitely wasn’t in the driver’s seat when it came to my shoots. It was the all-too common story of insecurity and inexperience that I know many new photographers struggle with. But fortunately I’ve learned a ton over the last 7 years, and here’s one of the things I really wish I knew back then: The importance of maintaining a clear and consistent brand. Essentially— attracting the right clients for you, shooting them within your style, and sharing the photos afterwards with intention.
There’s so many aspects that go into this—from your editing style right down to your business cards, but I’m going to focus more on the ways to do this right from the time a client books you and then to the time right after the shoot.
Tip #1: As soon as a client books me for an engagement session, the first thing I do is email them an electronic Welcome Package that includes information to help them prepare. This PDF touches on the types of locations I prefer to shoot at, tips on what to wear, and makeup and hair stylists I recommend. Throughout the PDF, there are photo examples from some of my favorite past shoots that show off great locations, outfits and styling.
What I’ve come to learn is that most clients have no clue what they actually want and are really looking to me to guide them in the right direction. They love my work and depend on me to help them achieve the same kind of look and feel that they’ve fallen in love with. Leading up to the shoot date, I also encourage them to text me if they need any second opinions on their outfit selection. I used to fear this would be the worst idea ever (forecasted nightmares of 2am texts) but that’s never been the case luckily! I’ve instead found this to be a really great way to not only help steer my clients in the right direction with what will photograph best, but it’s also a nice way to start developing a more casual, friendly relationship with them. I think my clients also really appreciate the personal care I’m giving them and they feel that I’m committed to making sure their shoot goes just as well as they’re hoping it will.
Tip #2: Let’s now touch on the powers of social media and how you can turn it into your most effective marketing tool. More than ever, clients are using social media to discover and research everything.
In order to ensure that the right kind of clients are finding you, make sure that what you’re posting and sharing is geared towards showing what you love to shoot and what you’d like to shoot more of.
After every session, (even the trickier ones) I pick out my favorite couple of shots-- they can highlight anything from a great location, to creative composition, to what they were wearing, to the sweet way they were interacting. And when you’re not getting the kind of bookings you want, set up your own creative styled shoots. So many of my clients will reference shoots I’ve done and will use them as inspiration for their own shoot. A lot of thought is put into every teaser or blog post I share-- if it doesn’t represent what I want to be shooting, I don’t post it.
The objective here is consistency. Consistency breeds trust. You’re taking the guesswork and gamble out of it for them if they can see quickly by looking through your feed exactly what your style is. I’ve seen so many new photographers establish themselves quickly because they were able to recognize and apply this early in their careers.
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