Gustav here (https://fstoppers.com/profile/47181), a daily FStoppers reader with an interest in contributing content that’s both useful and fodder for conversation. I blogged very casually for years and made the homepage on WordPress.com a couple times. Below are some topics along with an article I pulled together after seeing your post this afternoon.
A bit about me – I’ve been shooting full time since 2014, riding this wild wave of East Coast development in all its lucrivity, hoping it hasn’t already crested before the next inevitable crash. I’ve taken a deep interest in Bitcoin as well as eastern philosophy as of late. I feel incredibly lucky to have stumbled into shooting professionally after many years of daily shooting without any particular aim. It’s fun. And I’d like to wring some thoughts out of the headpiece for an audience of photo folks. Curious about pay, but would be happy to take tutorials as compensation (Kelley and Locardi have been superb).
Sample topics I’m interested in exploring:
- Why to say yes to jobs you’re uncertain about
- Archive planning for long-term storage and daily convenience
- Charging by-the-image to align incentives between client and photographer
Here’s a draft of a sample article. Tone and voice could be adjusted, overall it’s direct, perhaps brash. Open to feedback.
4 Foolproof Steps to Landing Architectural Clients
The one barrier to becoming a pro photographer is obvious. Clients. Unlike most niches, architecture has a uniquely open door when it comes to making compelling pitches to the folks who will pay good money for your skills. The following four-step method launched me from zero to overworked in my first year as a pro.
1 – Research
Pay attention to what’s being built in your city. Behind every construction site is an architect who would love stunning photos of their work. To find them simply Google the project address, scour local media, flip through building permits in city databases, etc. Then evaluate their online presence to see how they show themselves to the world. This is all about finding active architects who can clearly benefit from your work.
2 – Shoot
Pretend you’ve been hired and do your absolute best shooting the exterior of a newly completed building designed by folks you’d like shoot for in the future. You did the research so you get to choose your clients now. The secret of course is that building exteriors are basically public. The building doesn’t care, so go ahead and take your time shooting work you’re proud of.
3 – Retouch
Again, do your best. If you’re feeling rusty re-watch some of Mike Kelley’s video series and get inspired. Once they’re polished up get them on your portfolio site so they’ll be in context with the rest of your work.
4 – Pitch
Email directly to the principal architect on the project or a marketing contact if they have one. I tend to go for the soft sell: Hi, I love seeing your work around town, recently shot your project X, here’s a link. If you’re interested in using these let’s discuss licensing options. Cheers.
Here’s a 2014 pitch to a client I’ve since shot 34 projects for, not including handfuls of referrals.
I recently photographed your project [name] and wanted to send along the result: [LINK]
I stumbled upon it the other day and eventually traced it back to [clientname], realizing I’ve been bumping into your projects all over town for years. If you’re interested in using these photos for any reason I’d be happy to discuss options. You’ve got a great portfolio of work and I’d love to shoot more of what you’ve done if there’s a need!
“Hi Gustav – thanks for your email… certainly interesting approach!
What are your rates for pictures that you sent the link for?
I would like to meet up as well, we have a few projects that could use some shooting – apart from me walking around doing so!”
This isn’t your normal humdrum marketing. This is shooting an assignment and then dropping it in the lap of an incredibly busy professional who, dumbstruck, replies that yes, of course they’re interested. Not only are they buying the collection, but they’re bringing you in and confessing that they’ve been procrastinating on photo shoots and heck, they’ve got a half-dozen ready to shoot if you’re game.
Sure it doesn’t work 100% of the time. But the worst case scenario is that you’ve got new images into your portfolio. Nobody knows if you’ve been hired to shoot the photos on your site. This method is for the newbie, not the seasoned pro. Unless of course you’ve just moved to a new city and like everyone else, are looking for a great new client.
The images shown here were all a result of this approach and each has led to an ongoing relationship with a great client. Between the three of them I have seven projects queued up for the spring. The door to the world of architecture is wide open.