Around 15 years ago when I first started out I would take photographs at friends’ parties simply to build a portfolio. At this stage of my career I didn’t have a website specifically for event photography. What I did have was an online portfolio with a mixture of fashion and portraits. If a company was interested in hiring me I would e-mail them some photographs of events. Looking back on it, this is very unprofessional.
All of my original clients were friends of friends that had event’s companies. I got all my jobs through networking and asking around. Living in London you naturally meet a lot of people when you’re out and socialising at parties especially when you’re in your early 20’s. You simply just need to tell people what you do and ask what they do. More often than you would think, they would work for a company may it be a corporate or a small start up that are hosting a party or a networking event. Once they knew who I was and let them know that I photographed parties it was just a matter of calling them up the next week to follow up on our meeting. Back then people didn’t relay solely on Google for everything and anything, it was a networking driven time.
The key is once you are lucky enough to have a job with a new client you need to make sure that you do the best job possible. I like to cover every networking tradeshow or corporate event I do in the same manor and that is by always giving 100%. If they like the job you have done, they will come back again and again for your service. I believe that no professional party or corporate photographer should ever deliver work they are not proud of. If you not proud of every edit you give to a client then I don’t think you should not be doing this job.
I don’t find that business cards are as common in 2016 as they used to be and that is because everything is logged online now, may it be via social media platforms or email.
I used to spend weeks at a time contacting Events Companies trying to get meetings with them. I did this because, if you are in with one of them, they could support most of your earnings, as there will be jobs coming in constantly. One cannot rely on this as sometimes these companies go bust, and I’m telling you this from experience.
As an events photographer you need to be looking for jobs all the time as clients come and go.
The main thing you will need, and the most important, is a portfolio with photographs of events showcasing a verity of styles that you can shoot. If you are reading this you probably already have your own website with a portfolio on it, if not then start today. Images are all you have when you start out. They need to be the best they can be, so there is no point putting mediocre images on your website. If you think for a second that a photograph is not great or doesn’t show your ability, then take it off.
My original freelanceeventsphotograpaher.co.uk website used to have very little SEO (search engine optimisation). I didn’t know much about it and I’m not sure that 10 years ago how many people really did either. I used to have one page of text on the front of my website and the other pages were just galleries. I was told that this was the way to do it. I have since found out that this is actually not the case and that you need to pitch each page as its own website selling individual services with separate text for each. A while back I shared an office with a web developer and I will never forget him saying to me… ‘You either go out looking for work or you get the work to come to you’. He was talking about SEO. At the time I didn’t really understand how it worked or what it was.
Google ad words
I used to pay for Google ad words which was just over 1k every 3 months and I only ever just about broke even after the 3 months. I think in a lot if industries this could be a good option but seeing as event photography is such a competitive market (if not the most competitive on the internet) it’s not so easy. A lot of the big companies use it as they have big budgets, this is due to their huge advertising budgets. If you’re like most event photographers you wont have such a budget so continue reading to see what I recommend.
Learning SEO your self.
My original event and party website was on Wordpress. Initially, I had to get a friend to make it for me as I didn’t understand any of it. This meant that I was not in control of my website and if I wanted to change things around or edit a post, I had no idea how to do it and was always relaying on my friend. I had chosen Wordpress as I was told this was the best one of SEO. I didn’t really understand at the time that SEO was far more complicated and laborious than just making a website and putting in a few key words here and there somewhere on your website.
A year ago I decided to take some time out and really get to grips with, and understand the in’s and out’s of, SEO as I wanted to get more headshot and business portrait jobs and to start moving more into the corporate event photography world.
Making my website on Squarespace
I moved over to Squarespace, which is designed for photographers and image rich companies to host their websites on. It’s amazing and I could not be happier with their design options and service. Since moving over, I don’t need to pay a guy to answer my questions every time I have one and I feel completely in control of my website and I always know that any questions I have will be answered within 12 hours.
Before I started to build my website I had to work out exactly what key words I wanted to show up for it. The process entailed me finding out what exactly it was I wanted to photograph and make a list of the key words associated. I made a conscious decision to narrow down what I want to photograph and what sort of clients I want to work with.
My key areas were PR PHOTOGRAPHY, COPRORATE PHOTOGRAPHY, PARTY PHOTOGRPAHY, PORTRAIT PHOTGRPAHY. Under this I needed to work out the areas I wanted to focus on, within these categories. For example, under CORPORATE EVENT PHOTOGRPAHY- I cover Conference, Award ceremony, Trade show, Company and Brand launch and Networking events, Black tie diners and Lectures.
After reading a lot about SEO online and following all the step by step guides I was ready to put all my newly, self-taught skills into action. Within a month my website was on the first page of Google under ‘pr photographer London’ and ‘event photographer London’, ‘freelance event photographer’ and ‘Events Photographer London’. The hard work really does pay off and I mean hard work when I say it. Most of my work now is coming from online rather than clients I have been introduced to. I have made a list of useful links that should be very helpful for anyone who is interested.