Being a better photographer can mean a lot of things to a lot of people – how to take better pictures, how to get more sales, etc. But regardless of what it means to you, learning how to become a better photographer has as much to do with the skills you have as the tools and resources at your disposal.
If you’ve been following along on this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that we like to recommend various products and services that we think would be helpful for any portrait photographer – products we feel help you learn how to become a better photographer.
So we figured, why not make a list?? So that’s just what we did.
All of these products are either portrait-photography specific, or applicable to any type of photography whether you shoot just portraits or portraits and weddings, etc.
How to Become a Better Photographer
Photocrati Websites. Everything is so digital nowadays that if you don’t have a strong website, you’ll quickly fall behind. Photocrati websites were created with this exact idea in mind.
Not only were they created specifically for photographers and creative professionals to show off their work, but they were also created with super strong SEO options to help you get found on the web.
Each design is completely customizable, mobile-ready, and even comes with a shopping cart built in. If you’re at all unhappy with your current website theme or are just “making due,” it’s probably time you give Photocrati a look.
In-Person Sales. Ah yes, the dreaded in-person sales. If you’re not doing it already, I’m sure you have your reasons. You don’t have time, you don’t want to feel like a pushy sales person, you don’t know what to say, etc.
These can all be really daunting things that would make it hard to start. But trust me, the payoff for doing them is huge – most photographers double and triple the amount of money they make per client when they do in-person sales as opposed to just delivering an online gallery.
That’s why our favorite Australian Duo, Matt and Katie, put together a guide on how to do in-person sales without sounding pushy. It comes with a script for you to use to show you exactly what to say, along with other great information about the do’s and don’t’s of in-person sales.
Dream Shoot Rentals. Ever see those gorgeous, epic dress shots and wish that you had a super fun dress like that to use with clients, but don’t have the time or funds to make one yourself? Well, Lindsay Adler had that same exact thought. And thus, Dream Shoot Rentals was born.
Dream Shoot Rentals allows you to rent stunning, couture gowns and clothing pieces to take your next fashion, senior, glamour, and personal project shoot to the next level.
Each piece was created and designed by Lindsay and a seamstress/designer to ensure that they would both fit and be constructed well, as well as look stunning in your photos.
With such amazing quality and talent, you’d expect something like this to cost hundreds of dollars (even though you’re just renting it) – but the dresses were also designed with the photographer’s budget in mind. In fact, you can rent most of the dresses for less than $200 (and many for less than $150).
If you’re looking to try something different or just to get your muse going again, we highly suggest renting one of these dresses.
Outsourcing Hybrid Sessions. Film is definitely making a comeback lately, and why not? It’s classic, and has a certain feel and invokes a certain emotion that digital can’t always capture.
But there are also advantages to shooting digital as well – you don’t have to carry film around or worry about ruining it, there’s more versatility, more post-production freedom, etc. So – why not shoot both? This is an option a lot of photographers have chosen too, to shoot hybrid.
But how do you go about editing hybrid shoots? You can do it yourself and match your digital images to your film images, or you can outsource it. There are some great companies out there that actually specialize in editing hybrid sessions and weddings, such as the Raw Digital Film Lab and The Find Lab.
And not only do these places do film to digital matching, but they can also develop and scan your film images for you too. The Find Lab even uses the Mastin Lab film presets, which were created just for the purpose of hybrid shooting.
Free Guide to Facebook Advertising. Facebook advertising has gotten pretty high end over the last year or so. If you’ve tried to do targeted advertising, there’s a lot of things you have to figure out to get it work right – and don’t even get me started on whatever-the-crap a conversion pixel is.
However, you may have also heard of a lot of photographers who use it with overwhelming success, which leaves you wondering: how did they do that!?
Yeah, us too. Lucky for us, one of our favorite photography marketing gurus has demystified it for us all, and created a step-by-step guide on how to put together a successful (and functioning) Facebook ad that will actually bring you results, instead of just letting you throw money at Facebook without getting anything in return.
And best of all – it’s free. (No really, it’s free.) It’s a 60-some page guide with detailed instructions (including pictures!) to help walk you through the process from start to finish.
We’ve even used it before for our own personal websites with great success. Ready to get started? Check it out here.
Profitable Portfolio Builder. Starting out, a lot of photographers struggle with how to build their portfolio – do they just do friends and family, try to get regular clients to model for them, etc. Or sometimes you’re already an established photographer, but want to start doing more of another type of photography and need to build that portfolio.
Whatever the reason being, one thing about portfolio building that sucks across the board is that a lot of times photographers end up doing it for free. They do a TFP, or give the images to friends/family for free, etc. So the question remains – how do to portfolio-build without working for free?
The answer: the Profitable Portfolio Builder. The method discussed here was developed by a portrait photographer as a way of making sure that any portfolio-building sessions that she did, she both got a model release from the client and had an opportunity to make some sales from each session.
Now she has a solid portfolio – but she still uses this method to help fill the calendar during slow periods. So this isn’t just for photographers looking to build their portfolio, but also for photographers who want to keep a steady influx of shoots year round (and who doesn’t?).
The Motibodo Keyboard. I cannot recommend this piece of equipment enough. I absolutely love it, and it was a total game-changer for me. The Motibodo keyboard works with Lightroom, and allows you to use a keyboard to edit your images instead of mouse and the Lightroom sliders.
So you can ‘type’ your edits instead of having to look back and forth between the develop panel and the image you’re editing. The entire keyboard is laid out like a normal keyboard (and when you’re not using it in Lightroom, it functions like a normal keyboard), but each key is assigned an editing task that when pressed, executes that task.
For example: the exposure slider is hooked up to the ‘J’ key (darker) and the ‘K’ key (brighter). When I hit the ‘J’ Or ‘K’ key once, it makes the image either brighter or darker, depending on which key I hit, by 0.1.
And most of the development panel sliders are associated with a key this way – the contrast slider, blacks slider, shadows slider, temp and tint sliders, and so on.
It’s easily shaved hours off of the time I spend editing, and I recommend it to anyone – portrait photographers and wedding photographers alike. Check it out here.
StickyAlbums. Clients love showing off their pictures from their sessions to their friends and family. And as a photographer, we love it when they do (free marketing, woohoo!).
There’s a ton of ways they can do this, by emailing links to their blog post on your site, putting their images on Facebook for all their friends to see, showing off their prints or album.
But what if you could make it even easier for your clients to show their images off?
With StickyAlbums, you can do just that. StickyAlbums is a mobile app that you can give to your client with their digital images in them. Then, any time they have their phone on them (which let’s face it is pretty much always) they can pull it out and start flipping through their images.
And not only is whoever they’re showing their pictures to going to see your awesome work, but more than likely your client will be telling them how awesome and fun it was to work with you, how great of a job you did, and how much they love their final images.
As mots of us know, this type of word-of-mouth advertising is absolutely priceless, and is one of the best ways to get referrals from clients – so let StickyAlbums help you do even more of it.
Photography Contracts. Having the appropriate contracts in place for all of your client interactions and sessions is so important. Not only does it outline the entire session with your client (from the date it’s happening to the types of products they’ll get and how much they’ll pay), but it also gives you a lot of protection in case something goes wrong.
But how do you know if the contract you have covers everything you need it to cover? Unless you’re a lawyer, it’s pretty hard. One of the best resources out there for legal contracts for photographers is The Law Tog.
The creator behind The Law Tog is a barred lawyer – and a photographer. So not only does she understand everything that needs to go into a contract, she knows everything that has to be in there specifically for photographers as well. She sells dozens of lawyer-written contracts (that she’s written herself) for almost any kind of photography you would want – portrait, wedding, pet, boudoir, newborn, birth, and on and on.
She also has a bunch of other really important things like print releases and model releases, which are of course, also lawyer-drafted. Need to beef up your contracts or worried yours may not hold up in court? Check hers out now.
Fundy Software’s Album Builder. Who here hates sitting down and designing albums? If you have a background in design it may not be a big deal, but a lot of photographers hate it.
You’ve got a certain amount of portrait-oriented images to work with and a certain amount of landscape-oriented images to work with, and you basically have to Tetris them together into one album that looks good, is cohesive, and tells the story.
Fundy Software’s Album Builder allows you to do all of that, but creates all the design and layout for you – just drag and drop the images you want and let Fundy do the rest. No more creating and saving templates, just let Fundy do it all for you.
This list is by no means all-inclusive, so we’d love to hear:
What are some of the resources that you’ve used that have helped you learn how to become a better photographer?
Leave your favorite tools and resources in the comments below!
Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, and help support us and what we do and keep the site free for everyone. However, some of the links are not affiliate links, because we feel that many of the products here are solid, amazing products that we love to use and love promoting and recommending too