Grow your photography business by offering free photoshoots


We make judgments of each other in about 1/10 of a second. A good business card might slow down that process but what if you could use your photography skills to control how others judge you just like you control light? Here’s a killer tip using an iPhone to grow your photography business.

Maybe you’re new to your market or like me, you’ve been in the market for some time but you want to grow your network. Either way, using your iPhone to flex your kung fu will leave an impression that a business card and a handshake can’t match.


When I meet people for the first time, naturally it comes up in conversation about what we do and when it’s my turn, of course, I talk about photography. If the environment is appropriate, I offer to make them a portrait on the spot which usually gets a yes and a big smile. The portrait takes me a few minutes and now I’ve made a connection far better than a simple business can do.

It might be uncomfortable at first using your iPhone and not your dedicated camera but in doing so you’re not looking like you're giving away your work for free. Most people don’t consider an iPhone “professional” so a side benefit is that by showing how awesome of a photographer you with your iPhone, you’re building value because when you get hired you’re using a “real” camera. It might also be scary for you not to just hand out a business card and walk away but quite frankly if that’s what you do it’s time to address that fear or consider getting into a different type of photography like landscapes or flowers.

You will need to be willing to ask strangers for their portrait, to call and setup times to shoot with a good lead and of course, you’ll need to have the confidence and skill to shoot on the spot with your iPhone.

On my estimates, there’s a line item for equipment which is what I charge to use my gear or any rentals the job may require.  Potential clients usually don’t push back on this since they know that I can shoot well regardless of camera. If they do, I'll be shooting on my iPhone which was the case in some commissions. Also, since it's kind of a thing in marketing to let the public know something was shot on an iPhone, potential clients know I can deliver.

Shoot with Santiago


For iOS or Android, there’s simply nothing better than Adobe Lightroom CC. The built-in camera app has a special HDR mode that shoots three raw files and puts them into one tidy DNG file. Plus Lightroom CC will align and auto process the raw file to get things looking good first. If it sounds futuristic it is. The dynamic range you get with the HDR file rivals DSLR’s and I’m not kidding on this. Look at this un-retouched portrait of Roxy shot with Lightroom CC's raw HDR mode.


Tip -

Keep both your subject and iPhone steady so that it can shoot the three exposures and merge them properly.


A Simple Workflow to Work Fast

Auto Import to an album

Auto Import to an album

Within Lightroom CC I set up an album and enable auto import prior to shooting so in the event I shoot some photos with the iPhone’s portrait mode they’ll be imported into Lightroom CC. This little step can save you time importing later.

I don’t use any special lenses or lights but I do use the telephoto lens of my iPhone X since it will help slightly with perspective and as I mentioned above, sometimes I shoot with the portrait mode.

When the shoot is over, I show the captures to the subject and flag or reject any they point out. Next, I quickly print out a few of the picks on my Instax SP-2. When I’m done with my shoot, I find a spot to get a coffee and do some light color/contrast work on the files then, using Lightroom CC's built-in web gallery, share a gallery of the finals and make the files downloadable.


Fujifilm instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2

Print direct from a smartphone or Fuji X Camera


While I do make efforts to bring my camera with me everywhere I go it does not always happen but my smartphone does come with me everywhere. Sometimes I feel naked without my camera on me but that’s a story for another time.


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Giving out a beautiful business card can help steer the first impression in your favor. However, no matter how good your business card may be, it cannot communicate the experience of what it’s like to have a portrait made by you. Spending a bit of time with someone making a portrait of them and giving out a print will make a lasting impression that can’t be replicated.