How to Build Your Photography Portfolio

March 22, 2022

So, you want to be a photographer, but have no clue where to start. You’ve come to the right place!

Something that may surprise you is that we do not recommend quitting your 9-5, or diving head first into your photography venture – not right away at least! While you are working your 9-5, you can build your photography hustle on the side. 

It’s exactly what Alisha (our founder) did before launching LISH full-time back in 2016! It was definitely not easy to work a side gig before and after a regular job, but what we’ve built today is worth every single late night and weekend that Alisha spent shooting!

Now, let’s talk about YOU. You’re ready to become a photographer but don’t know where to start. Should you take a class? Invest in better equipment? And how do you get clients?? Hold your horses, friend, because we’re going to start somewhere a little more basic: By building a photography portfolio


@lishcreative So…you want to be a photographer? 📸 #learnontiktok #learnsomethingnew #photographytips #photohacks #tiptok ♬ Sunroof – Nicky Youre & dazy

Get to work!

When you want to become a photographer, you might be thinking first about how you can get people to pay you… when you don’t have any proof of your skills or style. That’s why we always recommend starting by building your photography portfolio.

You can take pictures of anything or anyone. The key is to only share the type of work you actually want to be doing! If you want to be a beauty photographer, raid your makeup bag and take some pretty photos. If you want to be a food photographer, start digging in the fridge and set up your shot!

Think about this: If you could fill your calendar with any client or any shoot you imagined, whose names would fill those days? What kinds of shoots really get your creative juices flowing? That’s the work you want to share! Find your target niche and focus your time there. 

At LISH, we love working with bright, bold, and vibrant clients. So if you check out our portfolio, it’s filled with clients like Norman Love, Seagram’s and Benefit Cosmetics – all which fit the fun and creative shoots that we love most!

Build your brand and style

Nobody ever said your portfolio has to be full of paid client work. They just want to see your photography style! Use your social media as your living and breathing portfolio and — most importantly — post consistently. It will help grow your brand awareness and help potential clients get to know, like, and trust you. 

You might also consider planning a brand photoshoot, showcasing you, your process, your studio, etc. It might feel weird to be on the other side of the camera, but it can help potential clients put a face to a name, and feel more confident working with you. The better your brand photos and the more unique your brand, the more you’ll attract the right kind of clients who want photography that aligns with your style!

Let your work do the talking

Want to know the best (and easiest!) way to grow a photography business while you’re building up your portfolio? Serve your clients well, even if your first projects aren’t all that glamorous.

Good word-of-mouth marketing is the most cost-effective way to establish your brand and grow your clientele. When you make it easy for clients to send you projects and then blow them away with amazing shots, they won’t be able to stop talking about you!

A few quick tips to consider:

• Give your clients referral incentives – discounts, free products, or other incentives to encourage them to talk about your business.

• Make it easy for clients to share your link and contact info.

• Offer a variety of options for them to share your work through email, social media, text, etc.

We all have to start somewhere

Alisha here, with a truth bomb you probably don’t expect: I didn’t even own a digital camera when I started getting into photography. I took a chance on this “side hustle” and haven’t stopped learning and growing since! I’ve had the honor of working with some of the world’s biggest brands and, now, I want to share the skills and systems I use to grow my content creation company to new heights.

If you are just starting out with your photography venture and want help building your business, or you want to level up your photography, stop-motion, and short-form video skills, Slay the Flatlay was designed just for you. 

In this course, you’ll learn:

• Which gear you actually need

• How to make your photos look as good as you pictured in your mind

• How to avoid time-consuming trial and error as you learn

• How to create stop-motion animations

• Where to find the perfect props and backgrounds for your shots

• The tools and spreadsheets we use to plan shoots with clients

Ready to dive in? Sign up today for instant access to 5+ hours worth of content, a stop-motion styling and editing bonus lesson, and a 12-page resource guide breaking down every single piece of equipment we use on our shoots.



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