For a photographer, the thing they want to spend most of their time doing is photography, but if you take yourself seriously and want to progress in the world of photography, then time needs to be dedicated to raising your profile and promoting your work. This, admittedly, is no where near as fun as the actual photography, but with regards to furthering your career, it's almost as important.
It's essential to know how to promote yourself and your work effectively. Hopefully with the help of these simple tips, you'll have a greater grasp of what is required to get your work seen and begin building a career as a photographer.
1. Get your work online
Having an online presence is absolutely vital in this day and age. It's the easiest place for you to showcase your work and it's the easiest place for people to access it. The difficulty here is getting your work seen amongst the thousands of other photographers out there, but to begin with, you need to have an online portfolio where interested parties can view your work, then it's up to you to direct people towards it.
It's essential that your work is clearly laid out, not as tiny thumbnails, but on a large scale that is easy to navigate, complete with contact details and a small CV or resume of the work you have done in the past and where it's been displayed.
Building your own site is easy, there are many services, such as 500px, which will provide you with a professional photo portfolio and will also allow you to connect with fellow photographers. Your other option is to set up a photography blog, which you can consistently update with your latest work.
Your other main option for an online presence is via sites such as Flickr. I found Flickr and the community of photographers on the site extremely useful as I grew as a photographer. I found the groups and feedback sections very helpful for interacting with fellow photographers, receiving positive and constructive feedback on my own work as well as being able to observe the work of others and find inspiration for my own work. It's extremely easy to use and organize your work and it is a great place to begin when wanting to establish your online presence.
3. Social networks
I'm sure you all undoubtedly have personal social networking accounts, but to what extent do you use them to promote your photography work? Some photographers prefer to construct a work account that is separate to their personal accounts, but either way, it is vital that you connect with people online via social networks.
I know of photographers who receive work offers on a regular basis because of their presence on twitter and I personally have received a large amount of work offers due to the promotion of my photography work on Facebook. Something as simple as posting an example of your work each day, or keeping followers up to date with the shoots that you are doing is a great way to attract interest from friends, strangers and potential clients. Make sure you've got all the relevant links on your profiles, to your flickr page, website or blog and direct people to sites where they can view more of your work.
4. Stock photography
Many photographers, when starting out, find it difficult to make photography into a viable career, as working freelance can be difficult and getting work may be slow to start with. One of the best ways to utilize and promote your work is to consider uploading if to stock photography sites, such as Envato's PhotoDune service.
By having your work on these sites, vast amounts of people will see your work and if it's right for them, may well use it to promote their business. This not only provides a small amount of income, but also gets your work seen and builds your reputation as a photographer. When working with stock sites, ensure that you read through all the small print to check that you're not giving away the rights to your work and so you understand the percentage cut from each of your sales.
5. Photography face to face!
Regardless of how great all your online promotion is, you cannot beat meeting someone face to face to discuss and enjoy your work together. There are photography clubs and meet ups happening all over the world.
Some may be a handful of people in a small village, others may be hundreds of people gathered at an international expo. Regardless of its size, it's great to interact with the photographic community, to share ideas and inspiration and to feed off the excitement and energy that will undoubtedly be shared together.
Keep an eye out for large events put on my photographic publications or manufacturers, or search online for a photography club near you. Not only will you get a chance to chat photography with other enthusiasts, it's a great chance to network and showcase your work to potential clients.
6. The presentation basics
Once you've found yourself the opportunities to meet other photographers and potential clients, you'll need the means for them to see your work. I find the simplest way to achieve this is by having personalized business cards. One side of them will display an example of my work, the other will contain contact details and a web address at which the recipient can see more of my work. These can be simple and cheaply constructed at sites such as VistaPrint or Moo.
An alternative is to collect your work within a book, which again is easily achievable through a variety of online services. Business cards are essential if you want someone to have the means to get in touch with you, but there is no guarantee that said person will visit your website and see your work. Having a physical collection of your work with you ensures that the person you're engaging will see something instead of relying on them to visit a website.
7. Exhibiting your work
Many photographers don't deem their work worthy for exhibiting, but it can be one of the best ways to get your work noticed. Now I'm not talking about trying to get your work up in the nation's biggest modern art gallery, although we can all dream! I'm thinking more along the lines of asking in local cafes, educational institutions or small local galleries whether they might consider having your work up in their establishment for a limited time.
Ideally, they won't ask for any money in return and you'll be able to offer the prints for sale by adding a price and contact details alongside the display. Even if you don't manage to sell any work, many people will be viewing your work and hopefully enjoying it enough to find out who it's by!
8. Be pushy!
Once you've got a point where you feel your online presence is all in place and you've got a good body of work to display, you can begin emailing art directors and photo editors from publications and websites to see if they might consider your work.
Knowing the right people may well get your foot in the door, so utilize any contacts you've made to build the relationships required. Send out links to your work to anybody you think might be interested and engage with those you declare any sort of desire to know more about you and your work.
I'm not going to start discussing setting up meetings and displaying your portfolio for magazines, but as I mentioned before, meeting people in person can often provide that needed connection, so don't be afraid to ask people whether they'd like to meet in person, and be prepared to show them examples of your work.
9. Over to you!
So there we have it, a brief guide on getting yourself noticed. Remember that it is an extremely saturated market and there are hundreds of people vying for the same attention as you. Be patient and keep working hard at both your promotion, but more importantly your photography.
I honestly believe that if your work is good enough, you will be given the opportunities you deserve (as long as you get it out there). Keep pushing yourself, learn new and different techniques, keep your options open, but understand your chosen field of photography and work hard to improve your specialist techniques. Most of all, however, if you are enjoying photography and enthusiastic about it, this will come across in the way you present yourself and your work.