This is a question I was asked to answer for Task.fm. So, I wanted to share my answer with everyone…
This is a very tough question to answer in just one simple article. However, I believe the fundamentals should be fairly simple to follow. So, I’m answering this question in several parts because it’s not just about the “how,” but also about the “why” behind what you do.
First, let’s take a close look at your photography skill level. If your photos aren’t “speaking” to others (or moving them in some way), then you should address this area immediately. If your strength is not in taking some amazing pictures, a higher level clientele won’t use you. If you are just starting out, this is the perfect time to take some classes, practice your craft, get feedback from others, and invest in the right equipment. But, for the sake of this article, let’s assume you are at the level you should be to take it to the top.
Your next issue will be in knowing who makes up your perfect audience. This is the one area that gets tricky and stumps so many business owners. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that “everyone” is their audience. But, if your desire is to be a famous photographer, you should be very choosy about who you want to attract (even in the beginning). Dealing with the right type of clientele from the get go will often set the tone for what type of people will seek you out. An example of this would be – if you start out taking pictures of babies or family portraits, this is what you will be known for… forever. But, if you start out taking photos of celebrities or what we like to call the “in” crowd, your reputation will establish you as the “expert” at what you do… from the start.
Most businesses, including photographers, will typically start marketing using the same techniques used by everyone else. Although this may sound logical, doing so will make you appear the same and not set you apart. And, given you want to be a famous photographer, that’s not good! It’s very important to stay focused from the beginning in order to build a high-profile image of your business.
So instead of offering a “free” sitting or advertise in the local papers, think of ways that are unusual and targeted to a higher clientele. Some ideas to get you started might be getting active with some of the local charities higher-profile people support. Another idea would be to display your photographs in a photography art exhibit. Very few photographers take the time to exhibit in these and they are perfect for meeting some very elite people.
Speaking of local elite audiences – find your local celebrities and hang out where they hang out. This might be news anchors, politicians, CEO’s of big corporations, sports figures, etc. If you do a little investigation you’ll find the “hot spots” where these high-profile people gather. A lot of times it’s just a matter of finding a well-attended event and taking your camera to snap some photos. If your photos are exquisite, you best believe any celebrity (whether local or international), will want to see the results. In turn, if you have established yourself with this crowd, they will definitely be willing to hand over their contact information.
So, what do you do with all these celebrity type photos if they don’t purchase? Well, this is how you build a great portfolio. Just think of the image you’ll present when showing others your work!
One last item to think about is keeping “you” in the spotlight, too. While you’re hanging out with all the “celebs,” be sure to get a picture of you with the celebrity, too. This makes for a great mention in the press and will keep you in the news, too.
So, as you can see, there is a lot of strategizing that should be done, and protecting your image is crucial for reaching your goal. It’s not merely a marketing, publicity, or business decision to become the best, but more a combination of everything with the right purpose in mind… right from the start.
May all your dreams come true and your fame become huge!
Carmen, The Publicity Diva
P.S. If you’d like to view this answer on the Task.fm site, go to http://task.fm/2011/11/how-do-you-become-a-famous-photographer/