Whether you’re introducing yourself to a member of the photo industry at a portfolio review or having a casual conversation with a stranger, the impression you make hinges completely on the words you choose and the demeanor you embody as you present yourself and your photography.
The formality and content of your elevator pitch will vary depending on your audience and your purpose. You don’t want to come across too pushy or showy, but you do want to put your best foot forward. Here are some key details that might be relevant to include as you introduce yourself to others:
- Say your first and last name—especially if it is hard to pronounce—and where you are based. This might sound obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget, especially if you are nervous.
- State how long you’ve been photographing. This allows people to gauge the stage you’re at in your career.
- Tell people the genre of photography in which you specialize. Are you a commercial photographer? A documentary photographer? An editorial photographer? An event photographer? A combination of two or more genres?
- Explain your overall interest in the medium. This can be challenging, especially if you’re at the beginning of your career. In looking at the work you have made so far, what themes keep arising? What subject matter do you find yourself consistently drawn to? What photographic process has inherent importance in your work?
- Define your audience. If you are a commercial photographer, mention a few client names. If you are an editorial photographer, mention a few publications you’ve worked with. If you’re a fine-art photographer, mention the gallery that represents you, a few places you’ve exhibited, or publications.
- Perhaps mention your other occupation(s) if they inform your photography. Maybe you work as a photo assistant, a studio manager, a teacher, a salesperson at a photo store, etc.
- Conclude with what you’re working on now or are currently promoting: an upcoming exhibition, book or magazine publication, or an ongoing body of work that illustrates your career projection, etc.
- Offer your business card so that people can contact you and/or learn more about you online or via social media. If your card includes an image or two, all the better. Try to get their card as well.
- Keep your elevator pitch short and sweet and conversational in tone. Memorize it, and practice saying it out loud (reading it in your head is not the same thing) so your delivery is easeful and confident. Remember to look people in the eye as you converse.
As an example, here’s one possible iteration of my elevator pitch:
Hi, it’s nice to meet you! My name is Amy Touchette. I’m a fine-art photographer based in Brooklyn, and I’ve been photographing for almost 20 years. I specialize in making portraits of strangers on the street both digitally and with film. Truth is stranger than fiction, and I’ve always been compelled by that fact, especially here in New York City. I’m represented by ClampArt, and I exhibit internationally. I’ve been published in The New York Times and my first monograph, Shoot the Arrow: A Portrait of The World Famous *BOB*, was published by Un-Gyve Press in 2013. I also work as a freelance photography writer for Digital Photo Pro magazine and other industry publications. Right now I’m really passionate about a series of portraits I’m making in my neighborhood, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. It would be great to stay in touch. Would you like to exchange business cards?