[by Michael Clark]
Let’s be honest here, getting noticed no matter how you go about it always starts with the quality of the work you produce. If that isn’t where it needs to be then you can make all the noise in the world and no one is going to give you the time of day. This is ipso defacto, point #1. Create a unique set of images or motion content that sets you apart and the rest of this exercise will be substantially easier. I realize this is easier said than done, but this is where the hard work comes into play.
Once the work is where it needs to be, I publish it on my website, on social media, and I use it for e-promos and postcards that go out to prospective clients. Early on in my career, I would target specific clients and send one mailer a day to a client, which were mostly editorial clients back then. I found this to be a very effective marketing strategy. I’d suggest listing your top 25 or 50 clients and going after them very specifically – and to make sure that your amazing images are appropriate for them.
As for getting your images seen, that is not difficult these days. Send a postcard. Send an e-promo. It is actually much easier to get your work seen than it has ever been. If the work is good enough, you will get a response. I don’t advocate the “hard sell” technique. If you have to “sell” the clients on your images then the images are not good enough. Your work should sell itself. If you present your work in person, then your work and your polite, confident manner should seal the deal along with a few funny, adventurous stories if they seem appropriate.
Getting an actual assignment is a whole other kettle of fish though. You will not only have to present yourself as a true professional, but the client will need some assurance that you can take on said assignment and pull it off with ease. Hence, if you are just starting out and don’t have a solid list of clients and tearsheets on your website, then you might have to start small and build up to make that dream client a reality. That is just the nature of the game.
In the end, it has always been difficult to break through the noise in this industry. The ideal situation is to create buzz around you and your work, which means others are talking about you favorably and recommending you for various jobs. That takes consistently top-notch work from assignment to assignment and vigilant marketing via social media and everywhere else. Winning a few big awards along the way also doesn’t hurt. There is no set strategy or method to pulling this off but as I said in the beginning, it all starts with the work.
Michael Clark is an internationally published adventure photographer and author. For more stories and inspiration check out his Newsletter, which is a quarterly magazine that goes out to over 6,000 photographers and clients. He also recently published an updated version of his e-book, A Professional Photographer’s Workflow: Using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, which can be purchased on his website. See more of Michael’s work at www.michaelclarkphoto.com.