12 Insanely Creative Marketing Ideas for Professional Photographers

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Marketing your photography business is one of the most difficult things a new photographer must do.  If you are just getting started in the business, it can be frustrating because it seems like you can't get your message in front of the right people.  Marketing doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming, but it does need to be creative in order to get clients to choose your business.

Next month, you could look back over this month and see more time gone by without getting any closer to your goal of getting a photography business started, or you could actually DO one of these ideas and be on your way to reaching your goal.  Reading marketing tips isn't the way to get clients.  Getting ideas and then implementing them, is!

Marketing Idea #1: Design Custom Cards/Invitations

As photographers, we too often think that our only skill to advertise to clients is our photography.  If that's you, then you are missing out on a ton of business.  One great way to get clients to seal the deal is by showing added value that you–and only you–can provide.

When clients see your messaging that merely offers engagement photos, they may think that Uncle Bob could do just as well (he has a really nice camera, after all).  But when potential clients see that you not only do engagement photos, but that you'll custom design their wedding announcement… they are more likely to take the bait.

Photography is one skill that photographers have, but most professional photographers are also very competent in Photoshop and could do a much better job creating a beautiful custom wedding announcement, Christmas card, senior announcement, etc, than others could.  So advertise that skill too!

Marketing photography with graphic design services
I took this photo and my AMAZINGLY AWESOME wife Emily did the design of the wedding announcement.

Marketing Idea #2: Shoot for Charity

Look up your local newspaper online and find the community calendar.  Call the coordinators of a few charity events and ask if you can come photograph the event for free and pass out some business cards.  Shoot the event and network, network, network.  If you do this right, it would be doubtful that you could escape without booking 2 or 3 family photo shoots.

Marketing Idea #3: The Wedding Guide

Photographers who have been around for a while know a lot of things about local venues that brides would LOVE to know!  How about creating a pop-up on your website asking for your client's email address.  If they enter the email address, they get a free download of your “15 Little-Known Tips for Getting Married in Boise” (or whatever your city).  In the PDF guide, you can include what venues have the best lighting for great wedding pictures, your favorite places to shoot bridals, a money-saving tip for getting great flowers, etc.  Wedding photographers often know many little tips that brides would love to know.  By teaching them, you set yourself up as the expert and brides will want to book with you!

Obviously, you could apply the same principal to other types of shoots: Family portraits, baby pictures, senior pictures, etc.  Once you get the email address, you can immediately send them a personal message and ask how they liked the guide and if they would like to hire you!  Building an email list of clients is the smartest thing you can do as you're getting started.

Want to shoot baby photography? Join a group of local moms! Do some networking and the clients will come.

Marketing Idea #4: Women Only!

For female photographers, one GREAT way to get into the baby or family photography business is to join a local group of moms.  Almost every city large or small has mothers groups.  Search meetup.com for your city and you are guaranteed to find a group or two (there are at least 30 in Boise…).  Go join the free groups and NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK!  Be sure to bring business cards along with you!

Marketing Idea #5: Photos for Posts

Once you get your first couple of customers, you'll see that most of your future customers will come from one source: REFERRALS!  Consider offering your clients one free 16×20″ print (only costs you a few dollars) if they will write up a quick testimonial of their experience with you so you can post it on the blog and then have them share that post with their Facebook friends.  When a friend receives a testimonial like this, you are very likely to get their business if they are considering hiring a photographer.

Marketing Idea #6: Remember The Little Things

If you get organized with an online calendar like Google Calendar or iCal, you can enter in the birthday or anniversary of those who you photography.  It would only cost you about $75 cents to mail them a short pre-printed note wishing them a happy birthday or anniversary and offering them a 15% off coupon for their next family photo.  It is much easier to retain your existing clients than to go out chasing new ones all the time.  This little trick can work wonders to book more shoots with your existing clients.

Marketing Idea #7: Go Old School

Many professional photographers attend wedding fairs or other similar events to drum up business (and it's a great way to book shoots, by the way.  Most photogs book 2 or 3 at a typical bridal fair).  After the event, you'll have a list of names, phone numbers, and contact information.  Most of the brides will get several calls, so how can you stick out from the crowd?  IMMEDIATELY after the event, send out a pre-printed portfolio to your clients.  No one uses physical portfolios anymore, but there is still something captivating about holding a physical print.

Print off 6 or 7 of your very best shots in a small size and include a card with a coupon for your services.  As soon as the event is over, put an address label on the envelopes and send them out to your potential clients.  After the client receives your physical portfolio, call them and close the deal.

Marketing Idea #8: Decorate an Office

Have a friend with a local business?  If you sit down and think, you probably know a few people with small businesses in town.  Offer to print beautiful local landscape photos for their office if they'll let you put a small business card-sized ad on the bottom corner with your contact information.  In fact, you could even put a price on the photo and allow patrons of the business to buy it right off the wall!

Coupon is totally fictitious. Don't go trying to book a shoot with me 🙂

Marketing Idea #9: Stamp Your Prints

Spend $20 for a simple custom stamp at Office Depot (or wherever else).  Then stamp the back of every print you ever sell with something that says, “Love this print?  I keep copies of all the photos from this shoot on my hard drive.  If you ever want to order more, contact me at [email protected]”  Something as simple as that could get you sales years from now when the customer looks at the print and decides they want more of the photo memories that you captured.

Marketing Idea #10: Hold a “No Blinking” Promotion

Everyone's style of running a business is different, but if you have a fun personality and want to do something that will make your clients smile, then how about running a “no blinking” promotion?  Advertise on your site that you'll give any client a free print if they have their eyes open in every one of the photos in the shoot.  Virtually no one will win this prize, but it will be something fun and different to do.  It will show some personality to your clients and help them to have fun during the shoot.

Sending proof of a blink after the shoot could be a fun thing to post on your company's Facebook wall and remind others of the “for fun” promotion.

Marketing Idea #11: Give It Away

Not long ago, I gave a free hour of photography services to a charity.  The charity was doing an auction and people could bid on the photography session.  By giving away that one simple shoot, I was approached that night by many others who were interested in doing a shoot.  It's good for charity and it's good for business.  Seek out opportunities to give your work away, and you'll find work coming back your way (that rhymed!  bonus!).

Marketing Idea #12:  This One Is Up To You!

I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.  I know you have some fantastic photography marketing ideas… come on…

52 thoughts on “12 Insanely Creative Marketing Ideas for Professional Photographers”

  1. Far too many photographers forget that their job is not just performing their art. It is marketing their photography services. (or hiring people to do it for them)

    Keep in mind that target marketing is essential. If everyone is your market, no one is your market.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Pet photography is very popular. I would suggest attending an event sponsored by the local Humane Society and set up a booth, donate somne photos, and pass out cards. Check in Yahoo Groups for breed specific groups in your area and advertise to them.

    1. Becky,
      I think that’s a great idea. Not only are promoting your services but you are helping homeless pets find a furrever home. I volunteer for the Pennsylvania SPCA and photograph the dogs that need images for their Petango listings. I have not been able to take many pics as of late because we took in three pit bull puppies and they are a handfull. Below is a link to some of the dogs I shot in 2016


      Although my service to these dogs have not generated any revenue, the reward of being instrumental to the dogs finding a new home is priceless.


      1. Rusty, I am moving to a new town in a few months, and have already contacted the local SPCA to offer my services. I believe it is great business to give back to a community, and also as a dog lover, this is right up my alley. Also, it starts to get me known in a new area…The first year I intend to do a lot of free work just to get known…Once I am more established I can pick and choose where my charity work goes.

  3. Just starting out but “fell into” a marketing idea that is easy and fun (for me, that is!)

    While looking for a house, I was appalled by the pictures on Realtors websites so I asked my Realtor if she would hire me to do these shoots. Without blinking and no pics to present to her, she said yes immediately because (1) time consuming for her and (2) great pictures showing the actual nature of the homes were always a sticking point because they were done by the Realtors themselves!

    Referrals to coworkers and agencies spread through word of mouth and lots of business cards are given to each contact for…. other shoots as well!

    1. Hi Corinne,

      Your idea sounds like a great avenue to take to build a client list in my area. But I wouldn’t know what to charge them. How did you come to a staring point?

      Thanks in advance,

    2. That’s wonderful! I am interest in getting into real estate photography and wasn’t sure how to go about it. I have yet to see a home for sale with pictures that made me want to buy it before I saw it. (and we have been looking over a year!)

  4. I’ve done a few things to help pull in more clients (and practice my skills at the same time).
    1. First, I got involved in the Special Olympics program in my county. I’ve photographed many of their different sporting events & always schedule a time for individual & team photos for a special price for them. They keep inviting me back, but best of all, the kids LOVE to see me coming back to them! Love, love, love them!
    2. I went through my church’s teen program & had them contact those teens who have needed scholarships for past camps, activities, etc. Through the church, I offered a limited number of free senior sessions to just those kids. Of course, many of them hadn’t gotten their portraits taken, so I ended up doing about 15 this past year. It was GREAT practice for me, I learned a lot of new locations for portraits, and I had a lot of seniors to post photos of. (Everything was completely confidential, btw… of course!)
    3. I’ve participated in other charitable events locally as well. The photographs get shared through the charities’ websites with a shout-out to me, and (again) I got lots of practice.

  5. Why can’t I join a mom’s group? What if I am a single dad playing both roles? Sorry, playing devil’s advocate. Great post though. I see a lot of businesses (not just photogs) that forget the little things. They’d rather bleed money advertising in a big way than connect with customers.

  6. Jennifer Cronin

    Hello! I am so happy there is a website like yours; lots of great ideas to get my business up and running. Here is my issue; I am a ‘one women’ show and I need to find the best possible way to out source my printing and professional processing and packaging. What do you recommend I do?

    1. Miller’s is a very professional, fast shipping and turn around lab. I am so happy to have found them. They also shil FedEx and for free.

    1. I loved the look of artsy couture. Their products are beautiful, however, I couldn’t get their roes to download. I was so upset and their technical people couldn’t figure it out either:(

      1. Hey Julie,
        I had a similar problem with roes, it runs on java. go to java.com for a free download then roes should work.


  7. Charity auctions are a great way to market. One thing that works is to donate a session and a smaller print. Make sure that the auction attracts the kind of clients you would like before you donate, though. It is work to donate – you have to deliver the gift certificate, the framed print for display, the easel, and you have to go get it as well.

  8. Anonymous photographer

    Great tips I am definitely going to implement some of these marketing ideas. Thank you! !

  9. I accidentally stumbled upon these article and I am sooo glad that I did, very awesome pointers and comments thanks for sharing. I wish you much more success in your business #photographerlife 🙂

  10. Wonderful tips for marketing!!! In the past I have offered a free wedding photography contest.
    Couples write their love story and submit it along with their wedding information. Our panel of judges select three couples to be interviewed and a winner is selected.
    All the couples that participate receive a discount coupon for a wedding photography package.

  11. Thanks for the tips! Decorating an office is a great idea – a win for the new business and for you as a photographer.

    I think that tip #6 – remember the little things – deserves to be #1. For a photographer, repeat clients are not only an excellent source of ongoing revenue but also a glowing referral waiting to happen. If I received a birthday card, anniversary flowers, or acknowledgement of some other significant date from a company, I’d be falling over myself to buy from them again!

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