As a professional photographer, you aren’t just an artist. You’re also a business person. Sure, you want to create beautiful images, but you also want to get paid. Commercial photography is one of the more lucrative fields. In particular, brand photography is in high demand and can form a lucrative cornerstone for your photography business.

To get these photography gigs, you have to pitch potential clients. Never pitched before? Don’t stress. This guide breaks down what to do in a step-by-step checklist.

8-Step Checklist: How to Pitch Your Photography to Brands

If you’ve never done it, pitching may look like a daunting task. It’s not that complicated. The key to success is in taking an organized, streamlined approach. Make sure you follow these steps to get started.

1. Make Sure You Have a Professional Portfolio

Now that you have a better idea of what direction you want to take your career in, make sure you craft your portfolio accordingly. It should include images that your target clients and brands will like.

If you’re pitching fashion labels, for example, they probably don’t want to see loads of pictures of food. Make sure you invest in creating the best portfolio possible, for instance, by hiring professional models, lighting assistants, or makeup artists.

2. Research Brands You’d Like to Work With

There are millions of brands out there. Don’t bother trying to pitch anyone and everyone. To increase your odds of success, make sure you narrow down your target audience. Consider what you’re passionate about, whether it’s fashion or food — that’s likely also where your strengths lie. Once you’ve identified a niche, start researching clients within that space.

Don’t be shy about dreaming big. If you’re passionate about fashion and dream of snapping pics for Versace, write the name down on the list. It might not be the first job you land, but knowing your end goal will help you identify similar brands that you can use to beef up your portfolio on the way to your destination.

3. Know Everything You Can About the Brand You’re Pitching

With your target list of clients and your portfolio ready, you can take the next step. First, research your clients further. You should know about the brand’s history, message, and vision for the future.

Check out the brand website and social media for information and get an idea of the type of creative aesthetic they use. Potential clients will recognize that you are familiar with their work.

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4. Research the Best Contacts at Those Companies

It might sound simple and straightforward, but getting the contact details for your target can be difficult. First, figure out who you’re targeting — likely someone in the brand’s marketing or photography team.

Do some internet sleuthing. LinkedIn is a great resource to identify corporate positions. Once you have a name, you can often find a business email via the company website.

If there’s no person-specific email address posted, you can often still guess a corporate email. For example, if the company’s general info email is something like “info@company.com,” then employee emails are likely some version of “firstname-lastname@company.com” or “firstname.lastname@company.com” or similar.

You can target all possible email address versions in one go, and the one that doesn’t bounce is probably the right one.

5. Compose a Persuasive Pitch

When writing your pitch, be respectful, keep it short, and to the point. Address the person by name instead of a general greeting. Otherwise, they will likely delete the email immediately, assuming it’s spam, and you don’t hear back from them. In the first paragraph, mention a recent project of theirs you liked.

This shows that you are familiar with their brand and demonstrates a genuine interest in their aesthetic. In short, it shows that you know what you’re talking about.

Then go on to describe your work and why you want to work with them. Include links to your website and social media so they can easily click and see samples of your portfolio. Finally, make them an offer. Keep it straightforward and simple.

You can conclude by asking if they would be interested in hiring you to shoot their next campaign. Make sure that your contact information is readily available so that they know how to reach you.

6. Shoot Off the Pitch

Double and triple-check your email before you send it. Is the email address correct? Is the content less than a page (three paragraphs is ideal)? Have you spelled the person’s name correctly? Are the links to your website and social media working? Then, go ahead and hit send. All you have to do now is wait to hear back.

7. Set a Date to Check In

The next step is the hardest — waiting! The person you emailed probably gets hundreds if not thousands of emails every week. Following up jogs their memory while also showing that you’re interested in working with them.

In your followup email, concisely recap your previous message and mention that you realize they may have missed it. Emphasize that you’d like to hear back. Don’t show irritation or impatience if you don’t hear back from them.

8. Find Other Brands and Follow Suit

Success as a professional photographer requires you to hustle. Don’t expect jobs to land in your lap. You have to send out pitches consistently. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back on a pitch even after following up. Repeat the process and get ready to send out the next one.

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FAQ: Pitching to Brands

You’ll probably have some questions as you go through this process. Here are answers to the most common queries.

How Do You Approach Your Company as a Photographer?

The key to success is remembering that you are not only an artist but also a business owner. You need to act accordingly. Establish a transparent system for keeping track of client orders. Network regularly to make new connections. Finally, create an organized invoicing system. After all, you want to get paid.

How Do You Write a Photography Pitch?

Try to keep your pitch to three paragraphs. Be warm but professional, addressing the recipient by their name. Explain why you feel you want to work with them. Finally, you’ll need to include links to your social accounts and website.

How Do You Photograph Brands?

You got the job. Great! What now? Start with a creative meeting to bounce around ideas and share your vision. Presenting a style guide or mood board at this time can help sell your idea. Once you’ve decided on a concept, you can set clear client expectations and deliver accordingly.

The Final Word

With this guide on how to pitch your photography to brands, you have all the information you need to start targeting your favorite brands as a photographer. As you go ahead, remain persistent, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back consistently.

It’s possible you’ll need to send as many as 50 pitches before you get a gig. Rest assured that the process only gets easier as you progress, racking up more experience, more contacts, and a more robust portfolio.