As a freelance photographer in 2017, it can be hard to get exposure as a photographer due to the amount of saturation in the market.
I remember back in 2012 when I was high school, it seemed like everyone I knew bought a DSLR and were quick to call themselves a “photographer”.
There’s a weird gray area when it comes to labeling yourself a photographer, because there’s more to it than just simply owning a SLR or DSLR camera.
Most people’s threshold is once you start getting paid and that’s a good way to go, but honestly life’s a game of faking it until you make it, so tell yourself what you need to hear in order to keep grinding.
One of the biggest struggles for photographer today is getting exposure through social media, because everyone and their mom are trying to do it too.
The world of Instagram has opened the door for thousands of creatives to share their work in hopes of gaining a following and making their passion a full time career.
While social media is a great and quick way to put yourself out there, it’s not enough if you’re really serious about being a professional photographer.
Now that I’ve finally graduated (hallelujah!), I’ve been able to spend a majority of my time expanding the Keppford brand and creating tons of new digital content.
While I’ve still got a long way to go, I want to help others in their journey so I’ve compiled 5 ways to get exposure as a photographer.
1. Make business cards
I know it sounds old school, but there’s still beauty in receiving a physical business card. It’s a quick way for you give someone your info and allow them to explore your work on their own time versus being rushed to scroll through your page on the spot.
You definitely want your card to represent who you are as a creative whether it be a logo graphic or photo that you’ve taken. You just want something that’s going to be aesthetically pleasing and catch people’s eye.
This is the card I designed for myself, I used a self portrait that I manipulated as a project for a design communication course I took in college.
I chose this spooky melting face image because you’re forced to stare at the image so your brain can process what it’s looking at.
If I was handed this as a card I would for sure hold onto it just because of how cool it looked!
Having business cards is extremely beneficial if you shoot events or street style. Once you snap a photo of someone you can give them your card and tell them to reach out to you to see a copy of photo.
Most of the time people want to see pictures of themselves so they’ll be sure to hold onto your card and contact you.
There are tons of different directions you could go with designing your own business card and if you need assistance inquire on my contact page and I can design one for you.
2. Shoot events
Piggybacking off the 1st tip, you should shoot events like festivals, market and shows because events like these typically have a large turnout and it’s not considered weird if someone were to come to them and ask to take a photo.
Not to mention that there will be people from all walks of life that you have the potential to cross paths with.
Skimming through your local cities magazine for upcoming events or just searching online for events near you is a great place to start to get your name out there.
When I was a photographer for the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moises, I was constantly approaching and communicating with people of all ages.
In addition, I was giving out my card and received quite a few emails and subscriptions after the festival, so there’s proof that this method to get exposure as a photographer works.
Maybe you’ll even get lucky and you hit it off with who can hook you up with more (and hopefully paid) gigs.
3. Join local or online creative communities
Nothing feels better than being a part of a community where everyone is on the same wavelength, so I would highly advise you to join one.
These communities allow you to network with other photographers and models and collaborate on a project thus exposing you to their followers.
A lot of these communities give working photographers the opportunity to meet new people and get the resources they need to keep creating.
But it takes more than just joining, you have to be proactive and reach out to people you want to work with.
Once you have a few under your belt, you’re guaranteed to have people start reaching out to you!
4. Submit your work to web and print publications/zines
There’s a saying that goes, “the hinge that squeaks gets oiled” and it reigns true. If you want to get noticed, then you need to be continuously putting your work out there to get exposure as a photographer.
People are bombarded with a shit ton of information every day forcing them sift through what they deem worth their time and more than often, most of it is overlooked.
It’s up to you to make your masterpieces worth their time by publishing them in various web and print publications that target your demographic.
The great thing about this is that anyone can submit and it’s up to the editor to decide if it fits with their brand and aesthetic. Plus, there are hundreds of print and web publications to choose from.
Web vs. Print vs. Zines
Majority of publications have switched to web because it’s more affordable and easier to get exposure through SEO, but there are still a handful who do both web and print.
Plus, it’s much easier to get selected for web rather than print publication due to high volume and the fact that each issue typically follow a theme for each issue and require a lot more writing.
Overall, well-known publications are going to be a lot more selective of the work they accept, but it’s a great incentive to keep pushing your creativity.
“Zine” is another word for magazine but typically describes self-published original or curated work that is done by a single person or small group of people and they typically cover controversial or unconventional subjects.
Submitting to zines is a great place to start if you’re still trying to refine your style of photography, because they’re always open to a variety of styles, so your chance of getting selected is much greater.
In the guidelines, publications generally require that your series hasn’t been printed or published anywhere else, so keep that in mind when choosing which publications to submit to.
In addition, be aware of deadlines when planning shoots and submitting your work.
Here is a list of a few to get you started:
Toksick Magazine (Web and Print)
Cake Magazine (Web and Print)
Sticks & Stones Agency (Web)
The Messy Heads (Web and Print)
Frankie Mag (Web and Print)
C-Heads Magazine (Web and Print)
Candyzine – Check out my photos in their April/May issue!
Rookie Mag (Web)
5. Use hashtags and feature accounts on Instagram
Although, hashtags don’t work as well as they used to back when Instagram first came out, if used correctly, they can still help you attract people with similar interests.
Using basic hashtags like #instadaily, #photooftheday, and #love are flooded with millions of photos a day making it harder for your posts to be visible.
To be more specific, in 2016 there was 60 million new pictures uploaded daily, so there’s a slim chance you’re going to get the kind of reach you want.
Your next best bet is to utilize photography feature accounts, because their whole feed relies on curating images from different photographers and creatives.
In addition, many of them have created hashtags specifically for their feed and users to caption if they want to get featured.
There are tons of different feature accounts out there on the gram for every type of photography such as portrait, fashion, travel, film and architecture, so you’re bound to find a few that represent your style.
If I’m being honest, a lot of the larger photography feature accounts curate the same kind of images and work together so it really doesn’t matter which ones you aim for. The most important thing is that your image fits the kind of photos they post.
Here are a few of my favorite ones to use for photography:
expofilm #expofilm #expofilm3k
A great way to find new active feature accounts is to check out what other photographers are tagging in their photos.
Lastly, if you’d like to see a post with a compiled list of all the different hashtags I use for photography, style and travel then let me know in the comments!
May these 5 tips help you on your endeavor to gain exposure as a photographer.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!