Evaluating Photographer Promotions with Heather Morton Art Buyer

How to promote your work and get noticed as a photographer is one of the more popular questions I get asked on an almost daily basis. I’ll certainly be chiming in on this topic over the next few weeks as we explore this topic more in depth, but in the mean time, I thought I’d curate a few other opinions and asking some of my industry friends to chime in… That should help round out what you can find here.

To that end, this video above is from Heather Morton – Art Buyer. Great stuff from her blog. The question she’s answering here comes from Ryan Rogers. More info beyond the video, including some additional questions and images over at Ryan over at HMAb.

How bout you?
Don’t be shy.
What are you doing to promote your work?
Who would you like to give you feedback on that promo?

21 Responses to Evaluating Photographer Promotions with Heather Morton Art Buyer

  1. Khashayar July 7, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    thanks chase ! really helpful !

  2. Nick Lopez July 7, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    I think a really important question for a lot of people (it’s certainly one I ask myself) is are you even ready to promote your work through this sort of thing, or should you keep sharpening that axe? I liken it to the guys in cycling forums that I read buying $500 pedals because they’re 7 grams lighter when the dude is still overweight.

    • Darren July 8, 2010 at 10:23 am #

      Will you ever truly be ready to self promote? That is something only you can answer. So her giving advice on that would be irrelevant. I understand where you are coming from but someone who spends $500 on a bike pedal might be doing that to motivate themselves to lose the extra weight.

      Everyone works differently. I myself work the way of: send it out and if not a single person response then I need to step up my game. If I get a few responses than I am heading in the right direction.

      Chose for yourself and that question will answer itself.

  3. John July 7, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    it’s tough for me cause , im never really sure of how to get more eyes on my work. but this post helps tremendously

    thanks chase


  4. Spencer July 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    I’ve yet to start promoting, I rarely even use my actual name in photography, mostly because when I feel like I’m ready to put my work out there I want to have my portfolio, my style, and my marketing completely nailed down before I risk ruining my name. So stuff like this is really helpful.

    I feel like I’m getting really close, so I’d like to see more advice on how to target your mailing lists, and how to avoid doing the things buyers HATE. I wouldn’t want to pull a Tobias Funke and stuff my envelopes with glitter.

    And Chase, I’d like to hear some of your own person experiences with promo marketing.


  5. Dan Depew July 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Rob Haggart had an interesting post about this on his blog a while back.. Examples of photographers promos and a photo editor’s opinion on them. http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2008/01/09/photographer-promo-cards/

    Chase, what marketing tools have you found useful?

  6. Ryan Rogers July 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Thanks for posting this.
    I’ll definitely say that marketing is a huge challenge, and it’s one of those things that “hopefully” the more you do it the better you get. There are so many ways to go about it, sometimes it seems it’s more chance than skill.

    I really did appreciated Heather’s candid response to my promos though. I think she is spot on with targeting the material to the people/agencies most likely to be interested in the work.
    It’s great that there are people like Heather out there contributing to the photographic community.


  7. Tim Skipper July 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm #


    As always your blog is worth the visit. I really appreciate how you seek out and post relevant and useful information for everyone to see and use.

  8. John Batdorff July 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    I try to promote my work via my website, Twitter connections, Facebook, targeted online ads, direct mailers, previous clients contacts, in person…you name it. I throw as much promotional mud at that wall as possible…and usually something sticks here and there…;)

  9. Richard July 7, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    That both inspired me, and made me want to throw my camera in the f****** trash at the same time. I am so…far…away.

    Insightful nonetheless. Thanks Chase.

  10. pinz July 8, 2010 at 6:21 am #

    I use web, snail, email, local and national press, plus, if I can get them, PSA’s via radio or ‘sister sites’, I also maintain a blog and do periodic ‘side line’ promotionals like a Christmas newsletter … Cumulatively, it seems to be working, I is movin’ UP! Though, truth be told, Jarvis is KING at this kind of ‘personal branding’ – :)

    Here’s my latest email ‘web’ pitch for the launch of a new book, MEMORY’S SHADOW, and an up-coming public gallery exhibition of same opening in two weeks – http://mim.io/f4104

    What do you all think? Does it work?
    Do you link thru?
    Do you want more – or less?

  11. Todd July 8, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    I thought Heather’s response of targeting those “who’ve expressed interest in your work” is key. Let’s face it, there are more photographers/content flooding us everyday, and standing out is becoming ever more difficult with the popularity of all those red and white stripe sweaters hitting the market. The old adage of, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” is very true, and I think a focus on personal connections will garner the best results.

    Of course, once you have a bit of a reputation built, you can drop the, “I’ve worked for company A, B, and C,” and that will open doors as well, but it doesn’t guarantee anything either.

    Find a perspective client, target and personalize, strike, follow-up, be professional, rinse and repeat.


  12. CDF July 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    design business cards online

  13. Donnie Bell Design July 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    It’s really hard to market yourself, but she’s right, you have to commit yourself to selling what you have to offer. And if you do it in a different way, all it takes is one person.

  14. Tacey July 10, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    The best advice I’ve ever heard is to BE where your target maket is…where they shop, where they spend their free time…BE visible in those places…Recently I asked the owner of a new high end boutique clothing store (exactly where my target Moms/Brides would shop) if I could fill her walls with some beautiful canvases…we negotiated a deal (her clothes/models, photo shoot-images with my business cards-all over her walls) This displays my name in a place where my target market shops…And very little cost.

  15. Shilo Watts July 12, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    Well, my “self-promotion” comes soley from flickr. I’ve had great results and feed back from thousands. I just do not know how, yet, to push myself to the next level. I’m told all the time by non professionals I should sell my work…or..”you can make a lot of money off your work”… I’m still trying to figure out what it is they know that I do not. LOL….

    Currently I’m in Afghanistan working as a security contractor saving up to start my own photography business…

  16. Daniel Jenkins July 12, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    I see some of the readers are waiting to market themselves. Waiting to have the right image, the right branding, the right gear, the right client…. While they are waiting someone else is making phone calls, sending promo pieces, networking, shooting more, and most importantly following up. It’s not the best photographers that get the jobs, it’s the ones who are easily accessible to them. It’s the photographers that have followed up and followed through and have given the impression that they will complete the assignment easily.

    A hard lesson I have learned is target your marketing. Your promo piece and portfolio should match the type of image that potential client is likely to use. As an example I was recently casting models for a client’s campaign. While there was one model I really liked, it wasn’t until I showed the client an image of her that fit the look of the campaign that they agreed with my choice. They could only visualize the model when seeing her in a similar piece.

    Take action. It’s best to just get out there and do it.

  17. Bruce DeBoer July 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Some really solid advice in my opinion. I think one thing that Heather missed was that the post cards were sent in the clear envelop and NOT as a postcard so that SHE could send them as a post card after she receives them.

    Personally I think “resending post card” is a great idea. One more image on the back is not going to make that big an impact – in my opinion – if the one on the front doesn’t inspire her to send it as a note to a friend.

    Just thought I’d point that out.

  18. boobaa July 15, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    When I was working as an advertising art director at some major agencies I would probably average at least 1 of these types of mailers a day, and at least 5+ email solicitations from photographers or reps. It’s tough to stand out. Personally I always liked the cards the best, easy to file away or tack up on a wall. I’ve also seen business card sized packets with maybe 10 shots, as well as small stacks of photos shaped like drink coasters- those usually tended to hang around my desk a little longer.

    While I personally like Ryan’s style, it’s probably the “in look” and most imitated style I see (high contrast, hyper real, moody, etc) . While I love headshot portraits, I never felt like it was enough to hire someone on. Maybe if you’re targeting fashion folks, but like Heather said, the photo of the couple in the boat tells a much better story and showcases his ability to handle a larger production.

    Also, from my perspective, the personal relationship is dead on. Nine times out of ten our client or creative director just wants to use the same guy they’ve always used. Or we’d end up hiring a photographer who used to be the assistant of our main guy years ago, but is now out on his own- because he’s cheaper but has a similar look. Someone who has any kind of personal connection to the work is much more likely to get a second look than blind solicitation.

    Finally, I always liked to see what the photo was eventually used for- if it was an ad, who was the client. It helps give context to the shot and I could say “Oh, brand X used this guy for that, interesting. I have Brand Y and I think it might work too.” Just my thoughts.


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