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Photo Contest Insider Blog

How to Get Free Publicity as a Photographer

June 5, 2016

Marketing is a tough job – and a full-time one for many. So it’s no surprise that we as photographers have to spend a lot of time and effort getting our names out there. You might even find yourself having to shell out a lot of money, too. Getting free publicity isn’t easy, but it will help massively to ensure that more business comes in. Here’s how you can do it.

Photo by Death to Stock

Photo by Death to Stock

Work With Agencies

There are lots of modelling agencies out there, and you will find a few in just about every city around the world, whether they are big and world-renowned or not. All of these agencies have a range of models on their books: experienced names who may be well-known in the area, and new faces who are hardly known at all. Particularly for the new faces, they will be happy to have you do test shoots and get a lot of work done with them for free.

You may have to pay travel expenses, but if you’re shooting in the city or town where the models live, that will be a very small fee if any. All you need to put into it is time. Once those test images go to the agency, you have a free publicity engine which will run and run with no further input. Your images will be on their website, the model’s website, social media pages, and anywhere else they may need to publicise that particular model.

The better your working relationship with the agency, the more likely they are to share your name and make sure people know who took the images. Make sure you produce stunning shots and give them high quality with a fast response time. You may even find that they turn to you when they need something particular done in the future.

Enter Competitions

It isn’t always free to enter competitions, but with a bit of digging you can find the contests which don’t cost you a thing. Enter as many as you can, being careful to make sure that your images fit the brief and are high quality enough to have a chance of winning.

Of course, most contests come with a variety of great prizes, but the key thing you are after in this case is exposure. If you are chosen as a winner, or even as a runner-up, then your name will be passed around a lot of people. Anyone who entered the contest will stick around to see the results, and the image may be used or exhibited in a public forum too. It’s also a great way to get your name in front of industry insiders, particularly in the world of fine art photography. Not to mention that it looks great on a CV!

Speak to Local Media

Newspapers and magazines in your local area aren’t likely to run a piece on you and your photography unless you have a great angle. They understand an advertising pitch when they see it! But if you can come up with something really interesting, then they could feature you and give you some free publicity around your local area.

What kind of angles could you go for? You could let them know that you have won a competition, are putting on an exhibition, or are working with a charity, as these are all great local interest pieces. How about running a special offer or putting together a special workshop? These are a little on the borderline for advertising, but it doesn’t hurt to pitch the story and see what happens.

For a magazine, you could even pitch them a lifestyle article. Give them an interview about what it’s like to be a photographer, how you got started in the industry, or even give advice on how to prepare for a family photoshoot.

You aren’t likely to get paid for this kind of article, but so long as they feature your name, website address, and examples of your photography, it’s all really great advertising. Blogs qualify for this too: local bloggers or international bloggers covering your niche may want to interview and feature you on their blog.

Own Social Media

Now, everyone will tell you to get an Instagram account and set up a Twitter. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about being so good at social media, it acts as an advertisement board for your services.

What do you need to make this happen? A good understanding of how to get your posts seen; a large and growing number of followers; and great quality images with every post. It’s not easy, but it can definitely be done. You can also draw attention to yourself by commenting on posts that call out for photographers – for example, search keywords on Twitter and get involved in the conversation.

Owning social media means getting hundreds, if not thousands, of leads every month directly from those sources. It’s a really time-consuming task and requires expert understanding, but it does mean that you get really great results. Even if you aren’t putting as much effort into it as you could, it is always free – and even one sale from your Instagram profile would be a great result.


Collaboration doesn’t always have to be done for free – you might be paid for your time – but if you’re looking to get that publicity, most of the time it will be. Again, this is going to cost you in time, but at least that saves you some money.

When you collaborate with a brand, stylist, make-up artist, artist, model, or so forth on a project that they are passionate about, they are going to want to share those images anywhere they can. What’s more, they will be publicising you every time that they do it.

Let’s imagine you work with a make-up artist who wanted to try body-painting and see what they could create. You take some images for them, and they share them around on social media. So far, so good – maybe another MUA friend of theirs will see your work and want to hire you. Now they manage to get them published in a make-up magazine to showcase their skills – and wow, look how many people have seen your work! It’s always easier to get great images when everyone believes in the project, and the results can be stunning.

The good thing about images is that they also last forever. Every #throwbackthursday post, every archive page, every retrospective, every advert with your images used is another chance for people to see your work. That’s the kind of publicity that money can’t buy.