Tips for contacting professional photographers for help

Ways to connect

You can reach out to photographers in so many ways. But, first, I think it is essential for you to know some basic etiquette for connecting.

Introduce yourself

Tell the person you are and why you want to connect. “hi, my name is—after reading about you, I noticed we have a few things in common” or “hi, my name is—I have been following your blog and liked your post on …”

Give the person a reason they should want to connect with you!

Tell them about you. When you reach out to someone, and that person goes and clicks on your LinkedIn profile, it needs to help them.

If on LinkedIn, I highly recommend a professional headshot. A headshot goes a long way to show you are a natural person rather than a blank avatar. The blank avatar makes you look like a creeper.

It would help if you had your profile updated and helpful to those you are reaching out to for connecting. Make it easy for people to see why they should respond positively to you.

The point of the about me section is to show yourself as an authentic person and an excellent way for people to want to connect with you. We are not interested in a sales pitch. Things about your hobbies and interests go a long way to help people want to join. For example, if you were an Eagle Scout, this helps others with this background connect on a different level with you.

The about section is about you and a great way to introduce yourself to others. Fill this out as best you can; otherwise, people will ignore many of those requests.

@ Email

If you choose to email a photographer, be sure you follow a similar protocol. Keep the letter short and to the point. 

I think there are three simple questions you need to answer in the email in some way:

  • First, who are you? Second, why are you contacting me?
  • Third, what do you want me to do?

Connect the dots for the recipient. Please don’t make them have to figure out what you are saying.

Be willing to pay
There are many places to go for someone to critique your work. There are camera clubs, workshops, and seminars where photographers will give you some of their time.

The expectation of a private consultation where you get career advice is something you should be willing to pay. But, on the other hand, free advice is often worth what you pay for it.

It would be great to spend half an hour each week having coffee with Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, or Jeffery Gitomer for free. You know this might happen to a couple of people, and they are likely already good friends with them.

Good mentors are hard to come by, and getting good advice that can save you time and money in your career is worth every penny.

Unless the person you contact is on staff with a regular salary, they make their living through photographyshooting or consulting.

Good mentors have connections that alone can change your life forever. For example, a few years ago, I had a young college student about to graduate from school ask me for an internship. We talked for a while, and the next day she sent me a thank you note for taking the time to speak with her. She also thanked me for some particular points from our conversation.

I was impressed with her character. But unfortunately, I was not in a position to pay her at the time, and I let her know I would give her time to ask any questions each week. So she went with me just about everywhere for about two months.

My client Chick-fil-A was as impressed with her as I was and offered her a job as a writer. 

She paid me for my time by helping me and landed an incredible job due to her investment.
Here is Stanley and Knolan Benfield in Kona, Hawaii, for a lighting workshop.
Early in my career, I attended numerous workshops with NPPA and ASMP. There were two significant workshops where I shelled out about $5,000 per week to study with two of the icons in the industry.

I went to the Maine Workshop and studied with Steve McCurry from National Geographic. The cost of flying, hotel, food, and the workshop was just under $5,000. I learned a great deal from that week and not just from Steve but others in the class with me.

A few years later, I took another class at the Maine Workshops with Jeff Smith studying location lighting. Again I learned so much from Jeff and their classmates.

I offer personal workshops for people who are interested in this profession. I charge $125 an hour with a two-hour minimum for whatever they want to learn from me. For example, I have taught people one-on-one how to organize their images. I have done personal workshops on using hot shoe flash off camera for portraits. I have taught people business practices and marketing.

If you know of another professional photographer you would like to learn from, then approach them, and if they don’t offer workshops, propose to them what they do for you.    

If you are not willing to invest in your career, why should anyone want to?