Rick Paul: March 2009 Archives

Get the word out

So I started my company, Saguaro Shadows Photography, LLC , and got a website up and running. But how to get customers when I had no customer base to start from?

Just opening a website will not get you business. When people search for photographers in your area through one of the search engines, it is very unlikely they will find you. Forcing your website to the top of the search pile requires some work.

First you need to understand how search engines like Google work. They based the search returns based on how relevant your site is to the search, and how popular your site is. Popularity can be based on the number of hits your site receives, as well as links on your site to other sites, and the number of links from other sites to yours.

A faster way for customers to find your site is to pay to have your site pop up higher in the searches. Google offers their AdWords services to help with this. For a monthly fee you set, your ad pops up in the left hand column of the search page:

I have allocated a very modest budget with adwords at this time, but I am getting some results. I have had some contacts requesting information, and this is encouraging. In time, I may increase my budget with Adwords.

Another method I have been using, and other successful photographers have recommended to me, is just get the word out. Tell everyone, anyone that you are a professional photographer. Tell your friends, your family, your regular job co-workers, the people in line with you at Starbucks, everyone!

I met one photographer who goes into the local coffee shop nearest her children's school around 8:30 every morning. She has made friends with folks who work in the coffee shop. They were even willing to hang some of her images in the shop (it never hurts to ask!). When she goes to visit, she shows them some of her latest work ("Look what I just finished working on!"). Other people in line take notice, and also want to see.

I have been telling all my friends and co-workers. I have several weddings and family portrait sessions lined up in the first half of this year through these contacts.

From the research I have done, I have found that traditional advertising methods are both expensive and ineffective, at least when you're starting out. One photographer I have met spent hundreds of dollars on a direct mail campaign with no results. Print advertising can be very expensive with similar results

Most photographers I have spoken to told me they built their business and client base through word of mouth. So get the word out.!

Lighting 102

When shooting an indoor portrait, we can control almost everything, especially the direction and intensity of the light.

When shooting outdoors, we have less control. Depending on the situation we often have no idea what the conditions may be. Overcast days can provide good conditions for an outdoor portrait, but direct sun can create harsh shadows across the subject.

I have found, to my surprise, that most of my clients are requesting outdoor portraits, rather than indoor, studio portraits. So I've been spending more time trying to perfect my outdoor portraits technique.

We can eliminate the harsh shadows and create even, diffuse light by using a portable diffuser. There are many models and styles available, including round, collapsable, and triangular.

These diffusers come in a various sizes and densities. For couples and small groups, large diffusers held up by stands can be used. This picture was captured in full sun, using a 22-inch hand-held Photoflex diffuser. An SB-800 was used for fill in TTL-BL-FP mode:

A 22-inch diffusers collapses quite small, and be carried in your pack, or attached on the outside of the pack or belt. Even for family, vacation photos, this small, inexpensive device can make a big improvement in your outdoor photos.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Rick Paul in March 2009.

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