4 ways to build your portfolio when you don't have any clients

One of the biggest struggles new photographers have is not having any work to share because they don't have any clients to shoot! And of course, potential clients want to see what their work looks like before they hire them. They're dying to use their camera and get shooting but they're not sure where to start with building their portfolio. 


I'm here to help bridge that gap and get started building your portfolio! Here are 4 ways to start: 


1. Second Shoot

This one is HUGE. I highly, highly recommend second shooting a period of time before taking any weddings by yourself. I worked with a photographer for a wedding season to simply observe + learn before taking weddings.  

I'm forever grateful that this photographer let me use the photos I took for my own portfolio! However, some photographers don't allow their second shooters to use the photos, so make sure to clear that up. 

If you feel like you keep getting rejected, keep reaching out to people! Quite a few photographers already have their go-to second shooters, so taking on a new one is a bit of a process. But keep on asking around and you'll find someone. :) Join Facebook groups like, "Shoot & Share Minneapolis (your city)" or look on the HoneyBook Community postings for second shooting jobs. 

OR reach out to a photographer and see if you can carry their bags. Someone may take you up on it! 


Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 8.01.16 PM.png


2. Post a model call

Post on your Instagram or Facebook page asking for models for an upcoming shoot! Or just get a good friend to help you out. Tell them what to wear (or bring it yourself!) and set up a shoot. It doesn't have to be a super in-depth styled shoot. It can be you asking to borrow a dress from a local bridal shop and buying a grocery store bouquet + tying some Hobby Lobby ribbon around it! OR it could mean you reaching out to local vendors and setting up an entire styled shoot. It's not as scary as it seems, so just get started and you'll probably be pleasantly surprised with how nice vendors are (and network along the way). :) Keep in mind, most vendors only want to do styled shoots during off-season (December-April).  


3. Style fake details at home

Buy a bouquet, take pictures of your engagement ring, take pictures of your new husband's wedding shoes with his watch, design a table arrangement, you name it! 

Some styling materials: 2 white tag boards (or a white/solid surface) for laying out the details/having a solid backdrop, ribbon, different fabrics (lace, ribbon, etc.  - I find some at Goodwill sometimes!), cute stamps, etc.



4. Do a mentorship under a photographer

Some photographers (HI! me!) offer mentorships! Not only are you getting an INVALUABLE experience of hands-on experience, you're most likely getting some photos in return.

I get a LOT of emails each year with people wanting to second shoot. I usually work with consistent second shooters because a lot of times they're my own associate photographers! We get to know each other and I can give them a "look" and they'll know what to do on a wedding day. So, sadly a lot of photographers are in this same boat of not taking on many new second shooters.

Since I've had so much interest from people coming with me on a wedding day, I offer mentorships where you tag along on a wedding day/engagement session and have access to the photos you take for your own portfolio. Check out my Photographers tab or email me for more info! 


You've got this! Remember, we all started somewhere. You just have to get creative and START. For details on mentorship opportunities, click here. 


Best of Weddings 2017 | Minneapolis Wedding Photographer

2017 is a new ALL time favorite wedding season for me. What an incredible year! Tons of drives back to Wisconsin since we lived there in 2016 and booked the majority of 2017's weddings while living there. ;) 

The details and venues were incredlble, but the moments were on another level. I cried with guests regularly and even got the chills from a couple of the moments. One incredible moment after another this year.

  • a grandpa surprising the bride and groom after having open heart surgery just a couple days before
  • a group dance/celebration for a bride's dad who passed away to his favorite song 
  • grooms seeing their best friend walk down the aisle (never gets old)
  • cheers of GIDDY celebration of being husband and wife

This privilege of this job is so still surreal to me.

To my clients, I had so much fun getting to know you all a bit this year. Thank YOU for inviting me into this season of your lives and making my job so much fun.


A special shout out to associate photographers Emily, Aurora, Kenzie, and Courtney! You all did an incredible job shooting weddings for Ali Leigh's brand! 

*a few photos included in this blog pos were taken by these associates!


I am so ready for ya, 2018!


St. John's Military Academy and Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee Wedding | Drew and Sage

Drew and Sage met at a wedding through his cousin, who was Sage's co-worker. They sat at table 8, talked the whole night, and hit it off. :) Only problem was, he lived in California and she lived in Wisconsin. Fast forward a bit, and Drew moved to Milwaukee where they got married at St. John's Military Academy and started their lives together. :) 

They're the type of people who make you feel like best friends from the moment you meet them. So fun, so in love with each other, and 100% soulmates. 

It was an honor to be a part of their day!

Northeast Minneapolis In-home Engagement Session | Nate and Steph

As if you couldn't already tell in the photos that these two are SO sweet and fun to be around, let me confirm it. I showed up at their house in NE MInneapolis on a drizzly Sunday afternoon. Forced them to cuddle and drink coffee, and sit in their stairwell cause I'm sure they do that everyday. ;) Then we walked around their block and captured them just being sweet together in this season of their lives. How fun is it that they'll have photos of them in their first place together to look back on? Love love love. 

You'll be seeing more of these two this December with their wedding at Day Block Event Center! Stay tuned.

Five Event Center Minneapolis Associate Wedding | Tyler and Kelly


This was an Associate wedding shot by Aurora (and Madeline as the second shooter)! I met Kelly last year when I photographed her sister, Sarah's wedding. Their family is full of sweetness and creativity. It was a blast going through their photos and seeing some familiar faces! 

After meeting in PT school, they became friends who watched the Bachelor on Monday nights (what a guy!). Clearly it led to so much more, thus their wedding day! Enjoy some sneaks from their day. :)


Venue: Five Event Center

Floral: DIY

Invites: Emily Roznowski (bridesmaid)

Caterer: The Deco Catering

Live Band: The Covers

Baked Goods: Deco

Dress: Hayley Paige

Hair: Pompadour Salon

Groom: Suit Supply

Bridesmaids/Groomsmen: Various


The Creamery Downtown and Gather on Broadway Green Bay Wedding | Elizabeth and Alex

I kicked off their wedding weekend with them at their Creamery Downtown rehearsal dinner on the riverwalk! One of my favorite spots in Green Bay (try their food, you will not be disappointed) and SUCH a fun spot for a rehearsal dinner! The next morning I met them at the new Lodge Kohler and was in heaven from the start. The day continued to unfold with a first look on the street Alex's parents live on, edible flowers in the drinks.. more of this please!), friends in the bridal party who've known each other since high school, and just a fantastic hometown celebration of a high school 'fling', that dissolved and later came back around as husband and wife. :) 

They now live in Chicago (see their Chicago engagement session here) with so many fun travels on the calendar! First one on the calendar as Mr. and Mrs. was a honeymoon in Africa, nbd. 

I say it all the time, but seriously: what an honor it is to be a part of all of these memories and follow these fun couples around on their wedding day! 


Without further adieu, here is a sneak into their day.



Wedding Planner: Sash and Bow 

Flowers: Ebb & Flow Flowers

Rehearsal Dinner Venue: The Creamery Downtown

Ceremony Venue: St Norbert College

Reception Venue: Gather on Broadway

Caterer: Runaway Spoon

Donuts: Stan's Donuts

Dress: Hayley Paige

Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo