How to Break Into A New Market


Besides weddings and engagements, etc I knew that you shoot fashion images for boutiques. Anyways, I want to do that in San Diego. I've shot for a jewelry line and boutique, but I was wondering how you approached a store owner with your ideas. And how exactly you pitched the idea, and figured out cost.

-Wanting Fashion

Dear Wanting,

Breaking into a new industry can be daunting, particularly when you're dealing with small boutiques who have limited or no budget for shoots. I would encourage you to hit more commercial clients or start-up businesses/designers who need their product shots for websites. While I don't have a plethora of advice on this question, I do have a few suggestions.

1. Join the Network. Because photography is primarily a word-of-mouth industry your network is the key to getting the type of jobs you want. Find any networking groups in your local area that cater to your field. Fashion groups, entrepreneur groups, design groups etc. See what's at your local art or fashion schools for network groups. As you build relationships, people will refer you.

2. Volunteer to 2nd Shoot. If you know ANYbody in the industry offer to assist or second shoot, gaff, or clean their floors. Do whatever it takes to shadow someone who is successful or working full-time in the industry.

This concept could also apply to a boutique owner, put together a proposal (see below) and shoot their apparel pro bono.

3. "You are Who You Have Lunch With" my Grandpa always says. If there is someone you admire or want to learn from, take them to lunch. I kid you not, you will be amazed at how many doors will be opened for you as you take the simple step of taking someone to lunch.

4. Organize a Styled Shoot. Show off your skills and reach a new market by collaborating with other vendors for a styled shoot. It's a chance for everyone to show off their creativity and get great work for their portfolios and websites.

Granted, some of these suggestions cost money, and if you're a poor broke college student, (like so many of us start out as) you don't have much in the way of green backs. Which is why I would suggest reaching out to other vendors and collaborating- everyone puts in their sweat equity.

Cost Break Down For Concept Shoot: 

  • Models: $50-75 an hour if independent, more if with an agency. Check model mahem or craigslist for "trade for pics" models. Shoots of this nature generally take 3-4 hours if you have a clear plan and proficient team.
  • Hair/makeup: $150 per model
  • Liability insurance: I only mention this, because if you go pro, you have to have insurance. Many locations will require it for shooting on their premises. $459 per year. I didn't have insurance for the first 3 years of my business.
  • Props: Depending on the concept, can vary in cost.
  • Snacks: yes, every shoot needs snacks.  $25
  • Rentals: Smoke machine, ($125 w/portable generator) extra strobes, you name it.
  • Studio space: $50 an hour (in Portland, San Diego is probably more expensive)
  • Travel Expense: Gas.
  • Your time: $__ per hour, if this is a shoot for profit.

Start listing out all your costs, adding the cost of paying yourself and the value of your equipment usage, and you have a total to present to a potential client. Pretty simple.


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