How to Look Like a Rock Star Photographer (Even When You Aren’t One)

Be A Rock Star PhotographerDo you often wonder what it is about those “rock star photographers” that makes everyone want to work with them? What is it they do? How do they create that kind of image for themselves? And most importantly, what will it mean for your photo business?

There are some very tangible benefits to creating an aura around your photography brand. Once you build up a certain reputation, you will find that people want to work with you. Instead of chasing down business, it comes to you. It's great knowing that you are able to raise your rates consistently and you can still get the number of bookings you want. So, the big question is, how do you do it?


It's actually not as difficult as it looks as long as you can produce quality work. If you've got the talent, you can put yourself on a path to success if you are willing to work extra hard.

A lot of photographers ask me if there is any real benefit to getting published, other than the sense of personal accomplishment. In other words, do you get business from editorial coverage? The answer is absolutely. Do brides see our name in the crack of a magazine and call us up, desperate to book us at any price? No-it doesn’t work quite like that. But it does work, and I'm going to explain how.

There would be little point to pursue editorial coverage if it did not lead directly to tangible benefits for your business. Most people simply don’t know how to take it any farther.

It's not getting published in and of itself that gets you work-it's how you use that feature as a tool for your own publicity and your photography brand. It's a piece of “big news” that you can use to rally support and bring focus to your brand and image.

One of the most powerful ways of doing this is using that publicity to reach out to the other vendors on that event or wedding. Make a point to share the credit with them and offer them pdfs of the feature so they can share with their clients and use as part of their own publicity. Send a copy of the magazine to the bride, the planner, the designer and the venue-they are going to be thrilled and showing as many brides as possible, and of course talking about you to brides. Not in a perfunctory “here's the name of a photographer” way, but in a giggly, breathless way that is pure excitement.  Your name is being shared and associated with excitement and thrill. In the minds of brides, your brand is now associated with excitement, coolness and most importantly, exclusiveness. See how it's only another push to pure rock star status?

I tell planners that if they are interested in amping up their marketing, that we get many of our weddings published, so it's a huge advantage to work with us (i.e. refer us to their clients). We have a whole system for how we promote our editorial features to our partners, and this is where we get work-not from our name being printed in size .02 font in the crack of a magazine.

Vendors are usually THRILLED to get published, so it's something that causes vendors to want to work with us, which means they send us referrals. Editorial coverage is the foundation of our partnerships with other vendors.

When a bride comes into our studio, she might have already been told about our work from another event professional sharing the latest feature on a wedding blog or magazine. We might have a sample album from a wedding that's recently been published, and she recognizes the wedding (which is exactly what we intend) because she has seen it in a magazine. This naturally creates excitement for the idea of working with us.

As she leaves the consultation, we hand her a gift bag containing another magazine with another editorial feature, and that creates a big thrill factor. Those factors are incredibly effective when debating a luxury purchase. Why do clothing designers spent so much money and time getting their goods worn by celebrities? Because it associates their brand with that celebrity thrill factor. Same concept.

This is how the top wedding photographers do it. And so can you.

Thanks to Kristen W. who inspired me to write this post.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Leigh Madeleine Miller February 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Lara, this is gold! It makes so much sense! So simple, and yet so true. It’s what I love about your advice — nothing is complex or difficult. It’s simply based on a little extra time, thought, care, and consideration. I love it! It’s something we can all do. Thanks for posting!


Lara White February 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

You are very welcome! It’s a key message-that we can ALL have great careers, it doesn’t just “happen” we MAKE it happen.


Cathy Dixson February 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm

My question is how do you get the clients in the first place?

Are wedding shows the answer? I have networked all over Facebook, sent out flyers, talked to people, handed out cards and still the work has not come in. Got any suggestions?

Thanks so much!


Lara White February 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Hi Cathy-the best way to get clients and bookings is by building vendor relationships. It’s not costly, which is great, but of course it takes time to build relationships with people. The goal is to create mutually beneficial relationships-the vendors send you leads, and you help them with their marketing needs. How do you do that? Send them discs of images! Every vendor wants images of his or her work to use for their own marketing (not watermarked). They need images for their portfolios, websites, brochures, etc. So why not share those images with them and receive leads in return? Of course, this is not “tit for tat” sometimes you send a disc and get no response. But do this enough, and you will start to see results.

Meet vendors at networking events, and follow up to get to know people better. Start with networking, but grow from there.


Rizalenio January 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Very informative. Learned a lot.


Lara White January 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm

thanks Rizalenio! I wanted to shed some light on the rocks star status and how it’s not something that just happens to the top wedding photographers-they actively work on their brand and their image, and any photographer can do that. It also helps to see what the benefits are to getting published besides the ego stroke. You have to make that editorial work for you.


Robert Ash February 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Great point about getting published. Unless you leverage the publicity to help build your brand and thus your business, your getting published will benefit the publication but will not benefit you.


Lara White February 9, 2012 at 9:17 am

It took me a long time to figure this out, but once I did, getting published became a major part of our publicity strategy. Planners love it, so it’s a great way to get planners interested in working with you, but you have to let them know you aggressively go after editorial so they know. I think its only us photographers that actually look for the name in the crack of the magazine…muttering under our breath when it’s our competitor’s work…


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