How to start working with brands pt. 1
In my junior year of college, a huge brand contacted me — and to be honest, I was a bit hesitant to reply. I wasn’t sure if the Instagram account was actually legitimate, so I didn’t want to risk it at the moment. Long story short, the brand was actually the real deal and I’ve been blessed to be part of its team ever since. Can you guess who the brand is? … It’s none other than Ivory Ella (comment below if you guessed correctly).
After cultivating a mutually beneficial - and very genuine - relationship, Ivory Ella invited me to visit its factory where I was able to immerse myself in its vision for the campaign. Eventually, I became one of its regular brand photographers and we created some amazing collaborations. As my portfolio grew, I inevitably started gaining more exposure. Soon enough, brands began reaching out to me after seeing my work with Ivory Ella. That’s when I realized I was falling in love with brand photography.
The point of the story is that starting to work with brands is very difficult. You have to learn the ins and outs of this industry — and that takes time. The good news is you eventually get the hang of it. Right now, photography for brand marketing and social media is HOT, which means big brands are demanding full-time photographers. As a photographer, this was encouraging to me and it validated my decision to run a full-time business. This should also be encouraging to you as you venture out into the world of brand photography.
Now, let’s talk about the answer to your long-time burning question: How to start working with brands?
What is brand photography?
Brand photography is photographing for companies in a way that gets its brand mission across.
What do brands look for in a brand photographer?
Brands are mostly looking to see if your photography style aligns with the company’s appeal.
Brands are interested in hiring photographers who know how to highlight a brand’s logo and mission statement in images.
Although it looks good to have a big following on social media, brands are more compelled to hire photographers with high-quality work.
Brands are looking for photographers that have established work. For example, I tell brands about my collaborations with Ivory Ella and other brands that I have worked with because it gives them an idea of my work and it shows them that I am an experienced photographer.
Should I have a portfolio?
Yes, make a clean-cut portfolio that distinguishes your work and the brands you have worked with. Make sure to include:
A brief “about me” section
Names and logos of brands you have worked for.
Most successful brand work
Favorite photography pieces (even if they’re not brand related).
If you don’t have any brand work to put in your portfolio, offer brands a free photo shoot and use it as a way to get exposure.
(Here’s an example of my brand photography portfolio: http://christinewozz.com/for-brands )
How do I search for brands?
Instagram. Instagram. Instagram. This social media platform overflows with brand opportunities. If you love a brand, screenshot the Instagram profile and save it in a folder. This helps keep contact information organized until you’re ready to reach out to them.
What to say in the first message?
In your first DM to a brand, include:
Who you are
What you can offer
What you can deliver
A link to your portfolio
A link to your package pricings
All of your social media handles
I usually DM a brand first, but if they don’t write back I send them an email. To find the email, I go to the brand’s social media profile and see if it’s in the bio. If not, I go to the website and look for the ‘contact us’ section and it’s usually there.
Tip: Make sure to find the name of the PR person and their direct email. You want to address them in the correct email because they handle all collaborations.
I hope you are excited about this two-part resource post. This new resource series goes hand in hand with the “creative process of brand photography” series and will help you curate strong, high-quality campaigns. So, stay tuned for part two of this question - you don’t want to miss out on the most wanted answer.
Christine & Alondra