Advertising your photography – a quick guide

There are some basic rules in advertising that constantly get neglected by photographers. I’ve posted them here to inspire you to make more of your advertising opportunities and budget. I wrote this with print based adverting in mind but the principles still hold for other forms too.

Stand out from the crowd and grab some attention.

Stand out from the crowd and grab some attention.

Some of these ideas are obvious and some are not. It’s these nuggets of knowledge, applied well, that will make the difference between success and failure in advertising.

  • The advert must appeal to the target readership.
  • The target readership must be ideal customers for your goods or services.
  • The advert must turnover a minimum of 10x the cost of the advert as a direct result of the advert.
  • The message in the advert must be clear and create desire. It must leave no unanswered questions regarding price etc. You don’t need to mention price directly. The fonts, design and layout should do that for you. The target potential client should know the advert is for them and any readers you don’t want to become customers shouldn’t be lured in.
  • The advert must have a striking design with an attention grabbing headline or visual. It should make good use of page position and exhibit an efficient use of advert size. It is best to leave this task to a graphic artist who specialises in advertising. My rule of thumb is a £250 advert needs a £250 design. You can run the design many times in different publications with great results if the design is right.
  • The demand created must be met by your products alone. If other advertisers offer what you are advertising it is more likely to be wasted money. Drive demand for your USPs. Don’t pay for an advert to create demand for portraiture if there are other advertisers ready to tap into that demand. Get the magazine to run editorial that points just towards your advert.
  • Have a compelling call to action. Tell the reader what you want them to do. For example; Ring Sean today on … , or Book your shoot online now at www… or Phone this number now…. You can add an offer like: Buy one get one free. or a special reader offer, better still use a time limited offer like: Hurry while stocks last, or Sale must end Thursday etc.
Poor mans ring flash was created with an on camera Speedlight zoomed into 105mm and used with plus 1 stop of flash compensation.

This poor mans ring flash shot was created with an on camera Speedlight zoomed into 105mm and used with plus 1 stop of flash compensation. The flare off the background is the cool element that is so bad it's good again.

So, to sum up. f you have the right advert in the right place it should be fine. I’ve seen many photographers waste money by being on a page with other photographers who have more compelling adverts than theirs. So do your research and see which photographers are also advertising in the magazine. Check out their websites to see if they are offering the same products and services as you and if they are you need some new USPs.

Taken with natural light. The wall at the back was switched from grey to blue in Lightroom.

Taken using a Nikon D3 and lit with natural light. The wall at the back was switched from grey to blue in Lightroom and finished off in Photoshop.

Please feel free to add good advice of your own using our comments facility. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a start to get you thinking.

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

6 thoughts on “Advertising your photography – a quick guide

  1. Hi Damien,
    For photo n°2, did you use a diffuser (Stofen omnibounce) on your Speedlight ?
    Camera : manual or Av or Tv?
    Flash : TTL or manual?

    Thx!

  2. Hi Fred,

    I used the flash bare but zoomed in. If you take this kind of shot with a wide lens in closer the flash does not flare to the same extent because the hot spot is blocked by the model. If you use a long lens the hot spot becomes bigger and creates a halo as in this picture.

    Other pictures on my blog that use the same technique are here…

    http://www.prophotonut.com/2008/09/06/usps-the-currency-of-survival/

    and here (pictures number 1,2 and 4) …

    http://www.prophotonut.com/2008/09/06/dublin-urban-portraits-pictures/

    I used the camera on P for program and set the ambient exposure compensation to minus 2 stops ;-) and the flash was set to ETTL. When using this technique it is common to need some flash compensation. Adjust it to taste.

  3. Thx for your quick answer !
    Just tried, it works great ! But I don’t have colors like yours : deep and saturated ;-(

  4. It may be because the background is too light. This kind of lighting effect works best on shiny black or deep saturated colours. I often use a vibrance boost in Lightroom to make the colours pop too.

    Damien.

  5. In the event you have a wedding during the summer months, chances are you are going to want to book a year in advance since it’s the prime season for a wedding. You are also going to want to ask plenty of questions to your photographer to make sure they understand what you’re searching for and that they have the resources available to do it.

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