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How To Look Like A Professional Photographer When You’re Starting Out

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Spend much time around me, whether we’re shooting in an exotic location or working through a business challenge and I’ll have you believing in the God-sized dreams that have been laid on your heart. Let’s get after it!

Photographer & Educator


Feeling like a professional photographer when you’re just starting out is an absolute STRUGGLE. There are SO many factors causing you to feel inferior to other photographers around you: from not having a workflow, to not having contracts or a “system” for booking people – and not having the “brand” it seems like the other legit photographers around you have. Not to mention not owning the equipment you need, and not knowing anything about whether your biz is even “legit” legally, (that probably just made you cringe.)

To be honest, most days you feel like a fraud and a poser running your own “photography business,” and just hope you don’t get “found out” while you don’t have things figured out. ?

Am I right? Been there, done that, got that t-shirt.


I know it seems like the ONLY thing you can do is just keep trying, and hope that time spent developing your craft will one day get you to where you need to be. But the truth is, there’s a faster way. Today we’re gonna dive into all the ways you can make your biz look more legit – even if you don’t feel it.

(Spoiler alert: YES, it’s possible.)


How To Look Like A Professional Photographer (When You’re Just Starting Out):

1. Get a CRM. (I can’t stress this enough.)

(Seriously.) It’ll solve at least 5 out of 7 of your problems.

My CRM of choice (Honeybook) is only $30/month – and the return I make on that investment monthly is INSANE. (We’re talkin’ thousands.) Still think you can’t afford it…? Eat at home instead of going out just once, and you’ve already paid for it. (We really do argue harder for our excuses than for things that’ll change our lives.)

  • CRM’s are also known as “client relationship managers” and they’re absolute GAME CHANGERS. Having a CRM will help you:

      • Feel legit, because you’re putting your best (and most professional) foot forward
      • Get organized; all of your bookings will be in ONE place, not in a bunch of emails, texts and phone calls. (so you’ll know exactly where everyone is in your workflow, and what tasks need to be done for them)
      • Automate workflows (so you never skip a beat throughout your client process)
      • Have contracts (so you don’t end up losing money to a nightmare client that took advantage of you)
      • Never have to talk about payments again, (HB handles it all for you, and can even send out automated payment reminders, heck YES)
      • Have a solid calendar system (so you’ll never double-book again)
      • Generate reports (know what lead sources are making you the most money – so you can focus your efforts on those)


I used to think I couldn’t afford a CRM, or that I could just wait until I got more official. Then I realized that actually getting one was the step I needed to put my best foot forward. I realized it looked WAY more professional than just chatting back and forth through texts, emails and fb messages. And guess what? I started booking triple the amount of sessions once I switched to HB and drilled down on my workflows and systems!


2. Present yourself professionally, (yes, especially on your personal social media.)

They always say “your vibe attracts your tribe,” and if you think about it, that can be a good or a bad thing.

If you’re trying to shoot couples but you’re always complaining on your social media about your spouse or significant other… that doesn’t put a solid message out there.

If you’re trying to attract dream clients that are easy going and laid back, but you’re always complaining about SOMETHING on social media… you’re gonna attract people who complain.

If you’re trying to attract clients who don’t bat an eye at your prices in sticker shock… it’s probably not smart to complain about prices of xyz going up or asking things like “where can I get xyz that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Guys. Be smart, stay professional, and stay positive.


3. Focus on your client experience.

So you may not have all the expensive equipment you want yet. But you know what you do have? A heart that can serve others- and that doesn’t cost you a dime.

Focus on how you can make your session unforgettable BEFORE your clients ever see their images. Think about ways you can make the experience for your clients better than any other photographer around you, and pour your time and energy into that. It’s said that people actually remember the experience that’s associated with their photos more than the photos themselves… which means even if you may not be able to give them the best photos in your town yet, you’ve still got a shot at giving them the best experience!


4. Only share your BEST work. Quality is better than quantity.

I know it’s tempting to post almost every photo from a session, but really make sure you’re only sharing the BEST ones.

If you’re sharing unflattering poses on people, or low-quality photos… that’s what people will think you’ll do for them as their photographer – so they probably won’t be booking you. Make sure your clients always look phenomenal, and that the quality is the best you’ve got.


5. Create a marketing strategy.

People generally believe the more someone’s working, the more “legit” they are. I’m not sure why… but seeing someone with lots of bookings typically translates to “high in demand” in the eyes of potential customers.

So don’t just wait for clients to come to you. You’ve got to be proactive in your marketing, not just reactive. Set a goal for how many clients you want to get next month, and then outline a plan to make it happen. Maybe you’ll reach out to past friends and pitch a shoot for a good rate, or maybe you can attend an event and network in-person. Make a plan, and then execute on it and get your name out there! You ARE a photographer!



I know sometimes it seems like finally arriving at that “professional photographer” status you desire so much is so far out of reach – but it’s really not. It’s all about what you’re willing to invest in your business; with your time, resources and finances.

The only thing stopping you from being where you want to be is YOU, and once you realize that… you’ll be unstoppable.

Put these tips into effect stat in your biz, and you’ll both see, and feel, yourself up-leveling. I promise.

Know you need to make a change in your business but don’t know where to start?

Feeling overwhelmed with all of the “how to grow your photography business” advice out there? I gotchu boo!

Book a free strategy call with me, and let me see how I can help!

Starting a photography business, and struggling with feeling legit? Click here for my top tips for putting your best foot forward as a photographer!

Wanna stick around and stay learnin’? I knew I liked ya. ?

Feel free to binge on these blog posts, or pin ’em on Pinterest for later! ??

If you’re short on time, follow me on Pinterest – and you’ll get these kinda tips delivered straight to your feed! You know… when you’re scrollin’ through Pinterest with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day… or, procrastinate.

Whatevs. Pinterest biz sesh, anybody!? ??    3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Photography Business

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