5 Key Steps to Build Credibility as a Photographer


You want the truth but can you handle the truth? The cold harsh reality is the stereotypical photographer sucks at marketing themselves, its okay though, I do too. It's one thing to be a kickass photographer and it’s another to be a kickass successful photographer. Ever notice sometimes the photographers getting all the attention aren’t all that? It’s because they’re better at marketing than they are at photography.

Not everyone shoots for money though, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, if financial reward is your key motivation, photography is not for you. However, if you’re keen to step up your title from hobby photographer to sports car driving photographer whilst retaining a passion for the art then follow closely.

In this post I’ll show you how to build credibility as photographer, it’s up to you how you choose to use it. While this is just the tip of the iceberg it’s amazing how far it can take you.

The Guardian - Destin Sparks

1. Become an Accredited Photographer

Most countries have a designated Institute of Photography whereby you join (usually for a fee) and have your work assessed. If successful, the institute will accredit you. It can be in the form of a certificate or an award or something as simple as badge or logo for your business cards or website.

Generally these associations also partner with other photography related organisations to offer exclusive access to events and discounts.

Here’s a couple:

BIPP British Institute of Professional Photography

PPOC Professional Photographers of Canada

AIPP The Australian Institute of Professional Photography

2. Volunteer as a Guest Speaker

Sounds daunting doesn’t it? You don’t need to be a professional photographer to volunteer as a guest speaker but it helps if you have an area of specialty or something unique to share with the world.

Start with something small, get in touch with your local camera club to build some confidence. Camera clubs are easy going and the typical “Silver Hair Brigade” demographic generally aren’t too intimidating.

Once you’ve overcome your fear of public speaking and you’re feeling self-assured move onto bigger and better like a local school. You can use your previous guest speaking experience as leverage. Be confident, and once accepted ask the school if you can record it. With permission, use this clip as a ‘how to’ video on your Website/YouTube channel and refer back to it where possible.

Duet - Destin Sparks

3. Enter Photography Competitions

How would you like to introduce yourself as a multi-award winning photographer? Kinda has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Don’t think you can win? It doesn’t matter… here’s the beauty… you don’t have to! Sure it’d be nice and it’s certainly possible but the best competitions provide certificates and merit awards you can use as accolades in your portfolio.

Not all competitions are created equal, some are free to enter and some are not. Majority but not all of the free ones I’ve found have an ulterior motive…. they want your details or worse your images for their use.

Here’s a few I approve of:

The Pano Awards – Currently Closed

Loupe Awards – Currently Open

Proify Photo Contest – Currently Open (10% off if you checkout with ‘FRIENDS’)

(One of the perks of being a Judge. I’m not sure when the promo finishes so best not dilly-dally)Fortress - Destin Sparks

4. Start a Group

Big or small it doesn’t matter, get together with a few fellow photographers and start a niche group. Sites like Flickr, Facebook and others help find new members, provide online foundations and also make it easy to send out notifications of meet ups and get-togethers.

Ever wanted to be president? You can be… President of the Albuquerque Marco Photographers Association is just one example.

5. Apply Your Credibility

Once you’ve followed the above instructions add these credibility indicators to your website, your email signature, your business cards and introduce yourself to industry personnel using them. It’s just like a Curriculum Vitae, you can’t just be good at your job you have to be great at telling others you’re good at your job. Credibility in this sense is just ‘selling yourself’ to whoever it is you’re approaching.

Is there any you’d like to add? Leave it in the comments.

About Author

Destin Sparks is a self-taught photographer who harnesses the power of digital & film medium format cameras to capture rare and beautiful landscapes from around the world.

Destin shares his knowledge of photography via Photography Tours and Workshops and is a frequent contributor to various blogs, websites and competitions such as the Proify Photography Awards.

Follow Destin on:

Instagram | www.DestinSparks.com | Facebook | 500px

heh, “Albuquerque Marco Photographers Association”.

We only photograph Marcos! No Daves, Steves, or Harolds need apply.

I know, I know, it was a typo.

I’ve only entered contests on the very local level, firsts, seconds and thirds at fall fairs, and one Canadian Yachting second place. Are these credible wins or would I be better off to wait until I enter bigger contests? I am working on building my portfolio and gaining a foothold in the professional side of photography. Any help is greatly appreciated! Cheers!

Every win, whether small or big adds credibility to your portfolio. I have collected the images from past exhibitions, any wins in local camera club, fairs, and the bigger competitions like CAPA. It doesn’t even matter that you have won, the fact that you submitted, meaning you are an active participant in your passion helps the portfolio to grow. It tells a story about you. Included in my portfolio is a photo that was taken of me taking a photo which the photographer submitted to the local newspaper covering a news story. Also the 1966 school year book which had me on the Year book showing a photo of me taking photos.

Mainly have fun with this.

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