How To Reach Out To Brands: A Guide For Photographers

By Kyle Wilson

Brand collaborations can elevate your photography career by giving you greater visibility, diverse creative opportunities, and enhanced credibility. But sitting around and waiting for your dream collaboration to turn up in your inbox isn’t going to cut it. You have to take action and reach out.

Whether you're a seasoned photographer looking to expand your client base or just starting to explore the potential of working with brands, knowing how to craft a compelling pitch is essential. 

We'll cover the critical steps every photographer should take to effectively reach out to brands, ensuring your proposals stand out and open doors to exciting new projects.

Lay The Foundation Before Reaching Out

Before you invite brands to check you out, review what you’re putting in front of them.

Curate Your Portfolio

First things first: put your best photos forward. 

Brands are always looking for something original. They need to be seen as unique, so show what sets you apart from other photographers. Highlight your specific photography style, themes, and techniques. It's not just about your images but the unique perspective you bring.

Before approaching any brand, make sure your portfolio reflects a coherent and creative voice that captures their attention. 

Create a Compelling Media Kit

Your media kit is like a resume for your brand or business. It's a visually appealing presentation that showcases your unique selling points and tells brands why they should work with you. 

To make it effective and engaging, include a personal introduction, notable projects, and any info you have from past collaborations. This will help potential collaborators to better understand your brand and what you can offer them.

Incorporate testimonials from previous clients and a selection of your best photographs that align with the brand's aesthetic. Adding these elements provides credibility and visually demonstrates your work's quality and style, making it easier for brands to envision a successful partnership with you.

Maintain a Strong Online Presence

An active online presence showcases your work and demonstrates your ability to engage and maintain an audience, a key factor brands consider when choosing photographers.

Platforms like Instagram are vibrant communities. Brands want to see more than a large following; they want an engaged one. Use social media platforms to make connections, display your work, and grow your audience. 

An SEO-enhanced photographer’s website will draw more traffic, increasing your audience and Google ranking. Check out our SEO tips specifically for photographers to make sure search engines notice your site.

Brands are attracted to photographers with an active, engaged audience. If your pitch catches a brand’s interest, they’ll check out your online presence. Make sure it’s one they want to be associated with.

The Photographer's Problem: A Narrative Podcast streaming now

Target The Brands & Hone Your Pitch

Now you’re ready to get in front of your dream brands and be irresistible to them.

Identify Your Target Brands

One key to successfully pitching to potential collaborators is to conduct thorough research and identify brands that share your style and values.

  • Make a list of your dream clients, even if they are far out of reach 
  • Use that list to identify similar, approachable brands that you can use to build your portfolio 
  • Read up on their history, mission, and ethos 
  • Explore their past collaborations and campaigns
  • Familiarize yourself with their aesthetic

Armed with this research, you're prepared to craft personalized pitches that speak directly to the brand’s goals and needs.

Find a Personal Contact

You can submit your pitch to a black hole and hope it lands where it needs to, or you can do more research and make a personal connection with the right person. 

Linked In can be a great resource to identify who is in marketing or photography positions and find their contact details. 

Learn what you can about them and write your email to them specifically. Use the person's name in the greeting, introduce yourself, and explain why you're reaching out. The first sentences have to grab their attention, so they keep reading.

Craft the Perfect Pitch

Your initial email must be concise while showcasing your unique photography skills. Start by introducing yourself and your work, including your past experience and any notable achievements. 

  • Highlight what sets your photography apart from others
  • Tell them how you can benefit them
  • Offer examples of successful collaborations you've had 
  • Emphasize how, by working together, you can address a need in the industry 

Make every sentence word count. Brand managers are inundated with emails. Keep it short and sweet, attach your media kit, and provide links to your online portfolio. 

Follow Up with Patience and Perseverance

Follow up consistently to ensure that your proposal stays on top of the list and is given serious consideration. It is essential to strike a balance between being persistent and professional - you don't want to come across as pushy or desperate. 

Keep it brief, polite, and friendly. The idea is to demonstrate your commitment to the project while maintaining a positive and constructive relationship. When done correctly, follow-ups can help you to build and strengthen professional relationships that may lead to more connections and future work. 

Learn From Every Pitch

Regardless of the outcome, every proposal you make provides a valuable opportunity to learn. If a pitch is unsuccessful, don't hesitate to ask for feedback and use that knowledge to improve your approach. Continuous learning and adaptation are part of the deal when working in the photography industry.  

Integrity In Brand Collaborations

In a recent interview on our podcast, The Photographer’s Problem, wedding photographer Miles Witt Boyer shares insight into how he successfully collaborates with brands like FujiFilm and PicTime. 

“When I approach a brand, I have to come from the stance of a problem that I'm seeing in my own company or the industry at large… If you don't believe in the brands and that what they're creating is the best solution, you end up with the photographers that we all know that jump from thing to thing. I immediately question their integrity and their work. If I can charge $10,000 for a wedding that will take 30 to 40 hours to complete the entire contract, why would I invest five or six hours for a brand to get a free flash or a free t-shirt? 

“I’m partnering with brands. I work with brands that have a budget and a benchmark for who their ambassadors are. Then we can say I’m a paid spokesperson for this brand, but I chose them, and then they chose me.”

Miles' approach emphasizes the importance of aligning with brands that he believes in and reflects well on his personal brand. Approaching brands with integrity ensures you work with companies you respect and elevates your professional reputation.

Successfully reaching out to brands requires creativity, marketing savvy, and persistence. Use these tips to close the deal on collaborations that will elevate your photography career.