Nailing Down Your Dream Client as a Photographer

January 21, 2021

If you’re just starting out in your photography business—or even if you’re a year or two in—you may be tempted to take on any and every client or project inquiry. After all, the path to success is growing your portfolio, booking clients, and staying busy… right? Welllll, not exactly. Those are important aspects to growing […]

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I'm a photographer, educator and weekly podcaster. I left teaching in a First Grade classroom to build a thriving photography business, and inspire and teach other like-minded women how to build, scale, and create a photo business. I am so excited to meet you!


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If you’re just starting out in your photography business—or even if you’re a year or two in—you may be tempted to take on any and every client or project inquiry. After all, the path to success is growing your portfolio, booking clients, and staying busy… right?

Welllll, not exactly. Those are important aspects to growing a successful photography business, but only if you’re attracting the right kinds of clients. Your dream clients. Yet, so many photographers jump into this business knowing they love photography and art, but not totally familiar with who their dream client is.

It takes some internal digging and investigating, but if you can determine who your dream client is from the start, this knowledge can transform everything in your business. It’ll keep you from working with clients who drain you or whose expectations are misaligned from your own. It’ll allow you to build a portfolio and work you’re proud of. And it’ll allow you to create a roster of clients that you click with and actually WANT to work with—not just ones you feel you have to work with to make ends meet.

Basically? Finding out who your dream client is will not only help you book the kind of work you want to book, but it’ll also make you happier with your work and therefore more likely to capture amazing images and continue growing.


What is a dream client?

It’s important to remember that my idea of what a dream client looks like, acts like, and interacts like will most likely be different than yours! It’s your responsibility to your business to come up with who your ideal client is so that you can market your business in a way that you will attract those kinds of clients. 

Consider these characteristics when identifying your dream client:

1. A person whose needs are only met by what you can offer. So if you don’t want to shoot weddings, then you won’t meet the needs of clients who are engaged couples looking for wedding photography.

2. A person that you love working with and share creative chemistry with. Pay attention to the personality traits you click with and the types of people who vibe with your style of work.

3. A person who sees paying you for your work as an investment. You don’t ever need to justify your rates to your dream client.

4. A person who appreciates your vision & sense of artistry. Some people just won’t click with your style, and that’s okay. They are not your people.


How your dream client is your most important marketing tool:

As photographers, we each approach a session in our own way. All of us have a unique way of seeing things based on our life experiences and our stories, and that directly affects the way that we do things and how we interact with our clients.

So, my dream client would be someone who really values my work and wants me to capture their story from my perspective, and only I can do that. Only I can create that art for them. If I can meet their needs in this way, they will love what I’ve done for them and share that love for me with others.

They will become my biggest cheerleader and my greatest marketing tool, because as you know, word of mouth is the greatest form of marketing! And word of mouth from a dream client will likely attract even more dream clients, so it’s a win for both of us.

A dream client is someone that I want to work with and not for. They share the same vision as I do in regards to their session and they completely trust me to make that magic happen. My favorite sessions are always the one where I meet the clients and they tell me how much they love my work and just want to let me do my thing. They give me full creative control, trust, and aren’t trying to micromanage me in any way. 

Being able to collaborate with my clients rather than just working for them allows me to be more creative and lets the session flow more naturally. I can create images that I know they will be happy with, and it gives me permission to try new things during our time together. That is where the magic happens!


Your dream client needs to view your work as an investment.

Plain and simple: Dream clients are not people who choose you based on your price. Instead, they saw your work, fell in love with your brand, and realized that only you can document their story in the way they want it to be told. In fact, they don’t care what you charge, they just want you to make the magic that you make with their family. 

You can recognize that there are different levels of income, but in my experience, if someone wants something bad enough then they will save, wait, or do whatever they need to do to make it happen. It’s not YOUR job to adjust, discount, or change your rates just because someone asks.

The benefits of finding your dream client:

Sometimes I hear people say that getting soooo specific with your ideal client will prevent you from booking as many people and will ultimately make you lose money. I firmly do not believe this to be true, though. By really figuring out what type of client you want, you’ll be able to market and attract those clients more easily.

Plus, if you really focus and get super specific about who your dream clients are, so many positives can come as a result:

  • You’ll gain clarity around what type of work you want to make 
  • You’ll start attracting clients who love what you have to offer 
  • You will repel those clients that don’t connect with your work 
  • You get to work with people and spaces that inspire you 
  • You get to make work that fills your soul and is valued by your clients 
  • Your “why” will feel much more represented in your work
  • You’ll be able to build a portfolio that represents and attracts more dream clients

Bottom line? You want to cast a deep net, not a wide one. That means that you want to dig deep and be more specific in the type of clients you want to work with, so you’re empowered to create the kind of art that you want. If you just cast a wide net and try to appeal to any type of client, their style won’t always mesh with yours and that will prevent you from creating art that truly inspires you (and the clients will be less pleased as a result). Don’t be afraid to get specific and work only with clients who light you up… You’ll create better art because of it!

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I’m Jillian Goulding, a photographer and educator raising babies and building my life in Sacramento, CA.

Over the years, I’ve transformed my side hustle into a thriving photography business that has taken me and my camera to the beaches of San Francisco Bay, the pages of People Magazine, and the screens of Extra TV.

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