How to Get More Clients: Starting From Scratch


So you're just starting out or you're in a rut and can't seem to get anyone in front of your lens? Worry not, because I'm going to give you the tools necessary to get clients and build your portfolio.

Disclaimer: This is for newbies who have not yet defined their style or ideal client, you simply need people to shoot with. Also I cannot stress enough the importance of a contract.

Let's dive right in. 

Family and friends. Friends of friends and family. I'm not elaborating on this.

Social. Media.

It's the fastest and greatest form of communication in existence. I can't tell you how many people I've met and friends I've made through Instagram and Twitter. 

The thing about becoming a photographer is you need to be outgoing, or at least fake it 'til you make it. Be confident in yourself or else no one else will be.


1. Think of a reasonably sized city near you and search hashtags on instagram. For example: #seattlemodel #seattleportraits #seniorportraits #familyportraits #engagedinseattle, things like that. If you see someone you might want to shoot with, message them, make a new friend!

2. Type in your city and go to the tagged locations to find people in your area. DM someone and say "hey I'm working on building up my photography portfolio, let's shoot sometime!" Send. Find 10 people and DM them, that way, if a few say no, you're still likely to have one or two say yes. 

3. If you see someone who recently got pregnant, had a baby, got engaged, etc. ask them if they want free photos.

ALSO that's a big thing, you WILL be doing photoshoots for free or TFP (trade for print). No one starts out immediately getting paid for taking pictures, ESPECIALLY if you are still learning how to use your camera or edit. 


1. There are hundreds upon thousands of facebook groups. Again look up the city nearest you and look up things like:

  • citynamemodelsandphotographers
  • citynametfp
  • citynamegirlbosses (if you're female)
  • citynamemodelandphotographeralliance
  • citynamewivesandspouses
  • citynamemodelsandphotographerscollective
  • citynameopenshoots
  • citynameTFPnetwork
  • citynameshutterbugs
  • citynamephotographersmeetup

You get the point. There is always someone that needs or wants a photographer in any one of these groups. Some people make posts as soon as they join a group saying "Hello, thanks for adding me, I'm a photographer that specializes in blah blah." Do so If you think it'll help. Post in the Facebook marketplace (or craigslist if you're feeling good).

2. Create a Facebook page for your photography and share it to your personal page saying, "hey friends I'm really loving photography, so if any of you want to support me or need photos, I'm here. Don't forget to follow my page to see the exciting things I have coming up!" 

That's if you're feeling non-confrontational. Remember that if you only expect people to come to you, it's not going to happen. Neither is word of mouth a viable form of marketing. You need to market yourself.


1. You can use google, facebook, instagram, I don't care.. Find a professional photographer in your area and ask if they'd be willing to let you tag along on a session. Some photographers may charge you for a mentoring session, some may not care at all and let you join, some will say no. 

It's all part of the process.

2. Families. Big Families, while very hard to shoot for because there's a lot of moving parts buuut.. say there's 6 adults out of 15 people, and each of those adults posts a photo on facebook, and 50 of their friends sees their photo you took.. Get what I'm saying??

3. If you want to take photography seriously, make business cards. I use Canva to make the design and Vistaprint for the actual cards. Sign up for Vistaprint's email list and they'll send you a ton of coupons and discounts. 

4. New restaurants and boutiques open all the time, ask if they need pictures!

Go to events, get out there. 

1. Google events in your area.

2. Facebook always has lists of events going on locally.

3. An amazing app called Eventbrite let's you see all the events in your area based on certain categories (sports, music, art, etc.) Get out there. I know it's hard, you think I don't know it's hard?

You're a bad ass bitch though and you're going to figure it out. I believe in you. Believe in yourself and make it happen. 

Go out and shoot everything you can. 

Host a giveaway

The easiest way to have a photoshoot and get noticed is to do a giveaway! Have people enter by tagging other individuals.

Put your ideas out there

If you have a certain styled or themed shoot in mind, put it out there for people to see! Say "I need a model for (this kind of shoot) It'll be super fun!"

start a referral program

For every client that successfully refers you another client, start a referral program that allows them to get $50 off a future photoshoot.

I know this was short and sweet but let me know if any of these helped!


xo, Jessica Stivers

Jessica Stivers Photography