Some hands making a puzzle during the JS World Media conference in Brussels

How defining a target audience can boost your photography business

We are in challenging times now that the COVID-19 is impacting every business in the world. Small players and creative independents like me are having a hard time and are probably out of gigs at the moment. In times like this, I reflect on the path I took when I first started and how I achieved what I now have in my hands. One of the things that made a massive difference to me was clearly defining the target audience for my photography business.

Let me tell you my story in easy-to-digest steps that hopefully will help you and your business better understand how important defining a target audience is for the success of your creative venture.

When I started my professional photography adventure, I was all over the place with no clear goals. I had no business plan or financial projections, I didn’t have a business coach and certainly didn’t have time or money to waste. I had taken a couple of business classes back at the university and had some ideas of what being an entrepreneur was. Instead of worrying about what I didn’t know, I started taking action with what I had and tried learning as I moved forward.

A no-strategy is limiting you

A no-strategy strategy has many disadvantages and can only help so much. One of the drawbacks, in this case, was not having a clear target audience for my photography business. In the beginning, I was lost and didn’t know who my target audience was, so I was aiming at everything: weddings, parties, products, family reportages, events, cocktail parties, EU conferences, portraits, fashion. You name it. I was all over the place. I was lost and didn’t know what I wanted.

For a while, I thought I was doing the right thing by putting my efforts a little bit here and there to increase my network, gain experience, and improve my portfolio. I did get all of that, and it was okay. But because I was so scattered, I was also losing time, effort, and energy that I could have used more wisely, especially in the beginning when times are more challenging and you have little margin of error.

Because I didn’t know what I wanted with my photography, it wasn’t straightforward for me to understand where I was going. For about three years, I just went with the flow and got random gigs to make ends meet. My online portfolio was scattered and unclear; no wonder I was attracting all sorts of “opportunities.”

Who is your target audience?

One day my now wife asked me the question that changed it all: “Who is your target audience?” and I didn’t know what to reply to that. She pointed out that my website was messy and unclear, and that by doing the exercise of defining my target audience, I would be able to get more of what I wanted, and less of what I didn’t. 

This question changed it all, and I began a process of analysis to understand what I wanted to do more in terms of photography shootings, and who my ideal client was. I started analyzing which type of photo shootings I enjoyed the most and which I wanted to pursue and improve further. The clouded vision began to clear up, and I started feeling joy and excitement about this new approach. On a practical matter, I started decluttering and cleansing of my photography business portfolio and aligned it with my new target audience.

A slow but steady path to success

The results were massive, and in little time I started attracting the right audience to my business. More and more people started contacting me about the type of shootings I wanted to do, which was event photography. Because of defining my target audience, I started expanding my network in the right way, and I began improving my portfolio and skills in event photography. As a consequence, I started enjoying my professional business way more than before as I don’t need to lose time chasing opportunities, but only the right ones.

Now, it is evident what I do as a professional photographer, and I have a clear target audience. I have refined my skills to provide a more professional and tailored service to my customers because I have worked with dozens of them. I understand their needs and seek to be their partner of trust, bringing value to their businesses with my professional photography services. 

Having a target audience is beneficial and crucial to my business and my customer’s business as well. Without a doubt, defining my audience was one of the best moves I have done to improve my photography business.

Final thoughts

I encourage all of you business owners to have a clear target audience since the beginning, if possible. If, for whatever reason, a target audience is not evident to you, then go with the flow and refine as you go. Also, be open to the possibility of changing your target audience, as we face challenging times ahead, we need to be resilient and adapt to changing environments to keep our business afloat.

I hope you find value in this article from my own experience, and that you can improve your business because of it. Do you have any advice or personal experience relating to having a target audience? Let me know on the comments below. I would be happy to hear from you. Thank you for your time.

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Closeup of a woman from the audience talking to another guest during a conference in Brussels

5 rules to start your photography business

This article couldn’t come at a more convenient time. With the COVID19 threatening our lives and economy, I have been thinking about the rules and strategies I used when I started the photography business that allowed me to be where I am right now.

In the beginning, I was very lost and had some vague ideas of things I should have done to make it all work. It all started back in September 2013, when I moved to Brussels and decided to dedicate my life to photography. Let me tell you a short story about how taking action and being patient allowed me to build up and run a business from scratch and be able to achieve my dreams of being a professional photographer.

My background is computer engineering, and I worked in Italy as a software engineer for about four years before I decided to change my life completely. After volunteering for nine months in Poland, working with children in a kindergarten, I decided to move to Brussels and start my photography business. My situation allowed me to make this move because I had time in my hands, no family commitments or children, some money saved, and lots of motivation to start this new ride.

To be able to “survive” and make it all happen, I had established some rules within myself on how to administer my time, efforts, and money. If you are starting a business from scratch, or if you are facing difficult times with your current freelancing activity, these rules/tips may come handy to you like they were to me.

1. Be aware of your expenses.

I was lucky enough to start with some money on my savings account from my previous corporate life, and it wasn’t much, barely 5.000 EUR or something like that. I knew that I had to be very careful with my expenses, as I had no idea how much time it would take me to make some revenue with my new photography business.

My rule was to record every expense and review them at the end of the month. Recording my costs forced me to think better before spending money, and everything was highly scrutinized and questioned before spending.

The habit stuck, and I still manage my money very carefully. Without a doubt, controlling my expenses has been one of the most important aspects of keeping my business healthy throughout the whole process.

2. Practice like Slash from Guns and Roses.

I once heard that Slash used to practice guitar for about 12 hours per day when he was a kid. I don’t know if this is true or not, but by seeing how he plays now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case.

My rule was to take pictures every single day. If I wanted to be a photographer, I needed to take pictures. Every. Single. Day.

There may be faster ways of getting to a place, but what you cannot deny is that practice eventually leads to mastery. By giving myself the time to go out and take pictures, I refined my eye and got closer to photography as a way of expressing myself.

3. Get in touch with locals and get discovered.

I didn’t know anyone when I got to Belgium, so meeting the locals was an essential aspect of growing my business. There were several ways of doing this, and they allowed me to know more people and build my network.

My rule was to volunteer and seek opportunities for free to expand my network. If I want to get new opportunities and gain experience, I need to tell the world that I am ready for it.

I volunteered for a couple of organizations as an event and portrait photographer to build up my portfolio, which allowed me to put my work and name out there. 

4. Learn from the ones who made it and improve.

Let’s face it. There are many things we do not know. To gain experience, I had to follow and learn from those who had made it — dead simple. I got in touch with a couple of local photographers and was able to become their official assistant for photo shootings. An experience like this is invaluable, and it taught me tons about the business of photography.

My rule was to learn as much as possible from well established professional photographers. I looked up local and foreigner photographers that had a robust portfolio, and learned from them as much as I could.

Every day, I decided to invest in improving my skills, either by learning new techniques with my camera, reading articles about photography, learning something about starting your business, or improving my skills with retouching tools. Take the time to invest in yourself.

5. Be patient.

Last but not least, patience plays a primordial role in your business. Taking things for granted and hoping great things will occur to you because you deserve it will lead you nowhere.

My rule was to take action, little by little, and understand that things don’t come easy. I was motivated to carry on, no matter the adversities, to make it happen. Of course, with a sense of rational to not fall into death traps.

By taking action every day, little by little, you can build up a robust business that stands on solid grounds. No-one is entitled to anything, no-one owes you anything, and only you can take control of what you think and what you do with your time. Seize the moment and move forward.

Final thoughts

Starting a photography business, or any business, is no easy task, and there are many variables to consider. Still, with enough motivation, the right mindset, and by taking action, you should be able to start your professional photography adventure and achieve things you would have never imagined.

Are you a business owner? Are you a photography freelancer? I would love to hear about your experience and what were the rules you applied to your beginnings, if any. 

I’ll be writing more about entrepreneurship and starting a photography business in the coming weeks. If this is a topic you enjoy, be sure to come back and subscribe to my newsletter to stay tuned. Thank you for your time!

* You can also visit this post by our friends at Pixpa to know more about how you can start your photography business.

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The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) conference room in Brussels

When should you receive photos of your event?

As an event organizer, photography will play a vital role in the outcome of the event, especially if you are planning on using the pictures for your marketing and communications strategy. To guarantee that you will obtain the images you want for the purpose you desire, it is a good practice to better understand why and how you will use the photos. Once the marketing objectives around the event are clear, you will have a better idea of when you will need to obtain the pictures from the photographer to promote and talk about it.

Today, I will guide you on some standard practices I have encountered by dealing with many event organizers on when they should get the pictures. Let’s dive into it.

Organize and prioritize your event’s marketing objectives.

When you are planning an event, it is essential to understand how do you want to communicate about it with your audience. Thus, the first thing you need to do is comprehend the following: where is your target audience absorbing information? Do they use social media, or do they prefer newsletters and visiting your website? Do they like printed annual reports or reading a physical magazine? Once you have identified how your audience is engaging with your content, it will be easier to define the type of images you need from your event and when to get them. Let me dive into some of the different scenarios you may encounter, from fastest to slowest picture delivery.

When to receive pictures for social media? Fastest delivery.

If your target audience consumes your content typically via social media, you will want to communicate as fast as you can about the event with them. This type of communication will require live messages and information with your audience as the event occurs. Unless you or someone from your team want to take care of this aspect, you should communicate with the photographer in advance, so they can deliver pictures straight to your inbox during the event. Be aware, though, that a photographer is concentrated in taking photographs, and having them selecting and sending photos to you can impact their performance and potentially make them miss critical moments. If you want pictures during the event from the photographer, I recommend you use moments that are not as important to get them. Remember, prioritizing your marketing objectives will allow you to understand when you can free up some time to get the images directly from the photographer. 

Expected format: JPG, about 800 pixels on the longest side, around 150 KB per picture, 72 dpi.

When to receive pictures for newsletters? Relatively fast delivery.

In case you need some pictures only shortly after the event (within 24 hours, for example) it is a good practice to warn the photographer about this, so he/she can deliver a certain amount of pictures precisely for this purpose. This can also be useful for any potential newsletters you are planning on releasing the day after the event. Be sure to mention which are the crucial moments you will like to obtain as quickly as possible in pictures for your communication strategy. Sometimes you will realize you only need images for your social media and newsletter the day after and not immediately, allowing you to benefit from all the shooting time the photographer will have during the event without interruptions.

Expected format: JPG, about 1000 pixels on the longest side, around 200 KB per picture, 72 dpi.

When to receive pictures for an online shared album? Medium delivery.

Web albums that you plan on sharing with your audience can usually wait a little longer and also add up to the build-up moment of communicating with your audience about the photos. You would want to receive the pictures for your online album within 3 to 5 days of your event, which will give you enough time to publish the images within a week when the momentum is still hot. These pictures should be already in the right format for online sharing, so be clear to communicate to the photographer how are you planning on using the pictures, so he/she can deliver the images in the right format for your communications strategy. Typically, this is the time when you get all the pictures of the event, and you are all set. However, if you want to use the images for printed materials, make sure you get the pictures in high resolution as well, which leads me to the next point.

Expected format: JPG, about 1200 pixels on the longest side, around 300 KB per picture, 72 dpi.

When to receive pictures for printed communications? Most extended/slowest delivery.

If you need pictures for printed communications (journals, annual reports, banners, flyers) depending on the urgency, you might not need these photos right away. For printed materials, you will want to have high-resolution images, which usually take more space on your hard disk, so be sure you have enough free space on your storage device to keep these pictures safe. Since these files are more substantial, they will take longer to receive, but the expected time of delivery can also be within 3 to 5 days of the event. You might not need all the pictures in this massive and large format, but you never know, so it’s always a good practice to get the images in large sizes for your archive and records.

Expected format: JPG, between 4000 and 7000 pixels on the longest side, between 20 and 40 MB per picture, 300 dpi.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are many moments when you could potentially obtain pictures of your event. The most important aspect is to understand why and how you are to communicate with your audience. Once you have clearly defined your channels and target audience, you will know with which urgency you will need the images to engage with them. Be sure to inform the photographer about your strategies to align your expectations with the service she/he is providing.

Do you have other suggestions on when you should get the pictures for your event? I would love to hear your advice! Leave a comment below or get in touch with me, and I’d be glad to adapt my article to make it better.

It is my commitment to myself and the world to write an insight every week, so if these topics are interesting for you, be sure to come back, so you don’t miss what’s next. Thank you for your time!

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A group of people taking a selfie during an event at the Vienna House, Brussels

7 reasons why photography is key for marketing

We have been for several years now in a digital revolution allowing enterprises and individuals alike to engage with their audiences in unique ways never seen before. The digital transformation has opened opportunities for everyone who has something to say. For a business to thrive in 2020, digital marketing is not an option anymore, but rather one of the essential tools to engage with their audience and attract new customers. Photography plays a vital role when marketing services and products to potential clients. Let’s go through some of the essential reasons why photography is critical for your marketing and communication strategy.

1. Create awareness of your brand

It is no wonder that photography will help to create awareness of your brand to potential new customers. Ideally, the pictures you use when talking about your business represent the reality of what you are as a brand and not some generic stock images that do not align with your spirit. When using unique pictures that match your business, you can create a better awareness of who you are and how do you want to show your business to the world. Increase your appreciation by using high-quality pictures of your team, offices, events, conferences, and any other occasion that speaks the truth about who you are as a business, and you will create the right awareness for your target audience.

2. Improve your SEO via user experience

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is highly essential for businesses of all sizes, especially lesser-known ones. When someone is trying to find a service you provide, having a better SEO ranking will help your target audience find your website first, and potentially transform them into clients. Images on sites used in the right way can help in the user experience of an online visitor. As they go through your pages, finding out about your services, having a pleasant experience will retain their attention and keep them engaged. Pictures can help websites be more dynamic and lively, increasing the chances visitors stay around, and the more they stay around, the better the SEO ranking you will get.

3. Stand out with your unique voice

Photographs can undoubtedly help to make your content more attractive and visually engaging than hundreds of words on an article or website. However, you might consider using generic images and not something that is yours. When you have personalized pictures matching your business, you will increase your unique voice, because you are creating exclusive content that nobody else has. Pay attention to how you portray your business via photography to create your storytelling.

4. Create trust by intensifying your brand

When using unique, high-quality pictures to promote your brand, you will be creating trust in your customer base and potential new clients. They want to see what you are all about, and when they can see the reality of your business through images, their trust will automatically increase. Avoid living behind the curtains, and show your business via images that truly represent who you are. You will create trust in your audience, and it will translate into happy customers and more sales.

5. Show that you care about your business

Are you proud of what you do as a business? Is it vital for you to transmit your message to the world? Then I suggest you take the time to use the power of photography to show how much you care about your business and ideals. When using images to portray your values and beliefs, you will show your audience you care about what you do. Using high-quality personalized images translates in the love you have for your business, and your audience will see it.

6. Easy to promote your brand on social media

Well, this is the obvious one. Using the personalized imagery available will give you visual material to promote your brand on social media channels to engage with your audience. The more pictures you have, the more opportunities to communicate with them. Photographs are a valuable asset for your social media communication strategy, and they will give you the right excuses to stay active on social media.

7. Use the power of visual storytelling to impress customers and keep their attention

Visual storytelling gives your business a powerful way to communicate with your audience and keep them engaged. With the right story about your brand and the usage of visual elements such as photographs, you will be able to tell your story in a meaningful way to relate to your audience’s needs. Use your brand’s tale and transform it into pictures, and you will keep your customer’s attention while attracting new clients to your business. You will be creating a legacy of your brand, and you will be giving your audience the possibility to revive feelings and emotions via your photographs.

Final thoughts

Photography can help any business with their marketing and communication strategies. With a little bit of creativity and the right photographer for your brand, you will be able to create awareness, inspire and engage with your audience, leaving a long-lasting impression of your values for the world to see. Use the power of photography to help your business grow in this digital era, and benefit from the rewards of your investment.

Do you have other ideas on how photography can help your marketing strategy? I would love to hear your advice! Leave a comment below or get in touch with me, and I’d be glad to adapt my article to make it better.

It is my commitment to myself and the world to write an insight every week, so if these topics are interesting for you, be sure to come back, so you don’t miss what’s next. Thank you for your time!

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Corporate portrait of Laure Vierset for Missing Children Europe in Brussels

Missing Children Europe corporate portraits

  • Client: Missing Children Europe
  • Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2020
  • Venue: Brussels, Belgium
  • Assignment: The team of Missing Children Europe (MCE) wanted to renew their website portraits and get a more professional look. We had a corporate photo session for the MCE team in Brussels, where I took pictures of 10 persons. Here you can see all of the portraits.

Corporate portrait of Hilde Demarré for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Jagoda Luto for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Federica Toscano for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Kalim Ullah for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Laure Vierset for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Eugenia Yumi Miyashita for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Emily Clothier for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Paola Rando for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Musu Kargbo-Reffell for Missing Children Europe in Brussels
Corporate portrait of Andrea Tedde for Missing Children Europe in Brussels

Do you want to see more? Check out my portrait photography gallery.

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