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! 


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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.