Tips for contacting professional photographers for help

Ways to connect

You can contact photographers in many ways. But first, it is essential 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!

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

If you are 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 be great if your profile were updated and helpful to those you reach out to connect. Could you 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 requests.

@ Email

If you choose to email a photographer, follow a similar protocol. Could you 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?

Please connect the dots for the recipient. Please don’t make them 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. On the other hand, free advice is often worth what you pay for.

Spending half an hour each week having free coffee with Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, or Jeffery Gitomer would be great. 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 to 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 photography—shooting or consulting.

Good mentors have connections that 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. Unfortunately, I could not pay her then, and I let her know I would give her time to ask any questions each week. So she went with me 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 seminars with NPPA and ASMP. I spent about $5,000 weekly in two significant workshops to study with two of the industry’s icons.

I attended 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 that week, not just from Steve but also from others in the class with me.

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

I offer personal workshops for people 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 how to organize their images one-on-one, done personal workshops on using hot shoe flash off-camera for portraits, and taught people business practices and marketing.

If you know another professional photographer you want to learn from, approach them. If they don’t offer workshops, propose what they can do for you.    

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