In this recent video, photographer Matthew Anderson shared his experiences with a new marketing strategy that diverged from traditional approaches commonly used in photography. He highlighted the crucial distinction between two primary marketing techniques: direct calls to action, such as discounts and special offers, and branding, which focuses on building a long-term reputation and presence in the market. Anderson emphasized the importance of branding over short-term sales tactics, especially for architectural photographers. He argued that while promotional offers might bring immediate business, they often attract customers who are perpetually seeking discounts, a trend exemplified by stores like Kohl’s and JCPenney.

Anderson’s exploration into new marketing territories led him to participate in an interior design trade show, a venture he had never tried before. This experience underscored the vital importance of maintaining a positive professional reputation. He discovered that his reputation had preceded him, with many attendees seeking him out not solely for his photographic skills but for his commendable professional demeanor. This was in stark contrast to the experiences shared by attendees about their previous engagements with other photographers who, despite their technical prowess, were difficult to work with.

This revelation about the power of reputation was a significant takeaway for Anderson. He concluded that a photographer’s reputation is a critical aspect of their branding and must be carefully cultivated and protected. He advised fellow photographers to pay close attention to how they conduct themselves professionally, as this can have a lasting impact on their career and business prospects. To further assist photographers in understanding the nuances of marketing in their field, Anderson recommended a course he co-created with Mike Kelly, which delves into various strategies for attracting new business and clients.

In summary, Matthew Anderson’s video serves as a valuable reminder of the importance of personal branding and reputation in the photography business. It highlights the long-term benefits of building a positive professional image over relying solely on short-term promotional tactics. Anderson’s insights from his experience at the trade show provide a practical example of how a photographer’s demeanor and interactions with clients can significantly influence their success in the industry.


Well, I tried something new in my marketing efforts as a photographer, and it has to do with this. And no, that is not the correct way to spell my last name, in case you were wondering. It’s something that I would guess a majority of photographers have never done. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know what it is. I’ll fill you in on the details here in a bit, but with it being something completely new and different that again I had never done before, I’ll let you know whether or not in the end if I thought it was worth it. But then I’m also going to let you know about a huge lesson I learned, kind of a big takeaway from it.

Okay, getting new clients. How do you market, how do you advertise yourself as a photographer to get new clients? Right off the bat, we’re going to set aside referrals. Pretty much everyone already knows that the best form of advertising is referrals. Referrals are hard to beat, so we’re setting that aside for the moment. All other forms of marketing and advertising essentially boil down to two things. On one hand, it’s trying to motivate people to do something, and on the other hand, it’s trying to motivate or persuade people to believe something. This side you might also call it ‘call to action’ to make a purchase, and the other you might just simply call branding, hoping that people think of you when they want to make a purchase.

And one of these, in our line of work as architectural photographers, is way more important in my opinion. But this could also apply to other genres of photography as well. So on this side, you might hear things like ‘Act now, 20% off, buy one get one free, use discount code XYZ at checkout.’ These are things to motivate people to make a purchase that they otherwise weren’t really planning on making, or if at the very least they were kicking around the idea, this might be that incentive they needed to give them that little extra push.

Branding has more to do with a collection of things to persuade somebody to believe that a particular product, company, or service is what they want or need if and when that want or need arrives. Branding is more of a long-term play. There are exceptions, but branding, for the most part, is not necessarily for companies or businesses looking to make a quick boost in their numbers. But if a company is looking for that quick boost, call to action advertising can definitely help. The problem with that is the type of customer or client that is initially attracted to a company or product because of some kind of deal or discount will more than likely always be looking for that deal or discount.

Have you ever shopped at Kohl’s or JCPenney without a coupon? Probably not, because there’s always some sort of coupon for those stores floating around out there. It’s almost an unwritten rule at this point that you would be a fool to purchase anything at those stores at regular price. There’s always some sort of coupon, and these stores have kind of backed themselves into a corner with them. So as a photographer, call to action advertising with deals, discounts, and incentives can definitely help in getting new clients. Just be aware that most of those clients will always be looking for that deal or discount from you. The moment you take that discount away, they move on, looking for a deal from another photographer.

Branding, on the other hand, for a photographer, is more once again a collection of things that you’ve done over time to give potential clients a specific impression of you, your products, and services. These are things like your website, your business cards, your presence on social media, the list goes on. But in my opinion, the most important aspect of your branding as a photographer is your reputation. You may produce the most absolutely perfect and pristine images for your clients, but if you start to develop a negative reputation, a reputation for being a difficult person to work with, it will eventually hurt your business.

Which leads me to this, where I learned a huge lesson about reputation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I kind of knew this already, but I was hit with it pretty hard when I tried this new marketing effort. I’ll give you a little bit of a backstory. So, a few months ago, I was talking with another Kansas City-based interior designer, and we start talking about, well, he brings up this interior design-related trade show. I do a little bit of research, I look at the website, and I submit an inquiry to be a potential exhibitor. I get some basic preliminary information emailed to me and a request from the person who’s producing the show to set up a time to talk, potentially over the phone or Zoom.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, this is all happening while I’m out of town in Brooklyn, attending

Jordan Powers and Brian Berkowitz’s Workshop. So I email the show’s producer, we set up a time to talk, we end up talking while again I’m up in Brooklyn, and he’s heard of me, he’s already kind of aware of who I am, which is kind of cool. As we’re talking, I’m asking about being a potential exhibitor at the show, he’s asking about potentially adding me as a conference speaker.

Now, I look at the rates, I look at the pricing, I start to do some research on what’s all involved. It’s a lot; it’s a bit overwhelming, so I’m unsure as what to do. Now, while I’m up in New York, Jordan Powers and myself decide to go get some pizza at actually it was Joe’s Pizza in Times Square. We’re in line, and I start bouncing ideas about this trade show off of Jordan. Long story short, Jordan thinks I should do it. I look into what all is involved and required to be an exhibitor at a trade show, and again I’m getting even more overwhelmed. It’s a lot, not only the cost but just the time and effort that goes into it.

Fast forward to the actual weekend of the trade show, and it is a whirlwind. It is a Saturday and Sunday trade show, but I start setting up my booth on Thursday. I finish everything up on Friday, the show starts on Saturday. That’s also the day I’m scheduled to be one of the conference speakers. Huge shout out to Josie Henderson, by the way. She’s another local architectural and design photographer here in Kansas City. She was the only other photographer to come out and support me for my presentation. It really meant a lot, so thank you, Josie. Here is her Instagram, by the way. Make sure to check her out, her profile, give her a follow.

I’d be remiss if I also didn’t give a huge shout out to my wife, my brother, and sister-in-law for helping me out with my booth as well, both days of the show. Sunday is day two of the show. Once the show is done, you start tearing everything down. I had to come back on Monday to finish up the tear down and pack everything up. But during the show, while I was there on Saturday and Sunday, I got a chance to talk to a lot of people, most of which were interior designers or one way or another related to the interior design industry.

Out of all the conversations, though, there were two interactions that really made an impression on me, and they were both kind of similar in nature. Both of them knew I was going to be an exhibitor at the show and they sought me out specifically to talk, which I thought was pretty awesome. Both of them were familiar with me; they had seen my work, they’d followed me on Instagram, they’d even seen a couple of my YouTube videos, but we had never met or talked face to face. They both start the conversations with explaining why they sought to talk with me in the first place. They both mentioned photographers that they had worked with in the past, and one of them begins retelling a story by saying, ‘This other photographer and myself, we get along okay.’ Looking back on the whole story, essentially this interior designer is saying, ‘Despite this other photographer’s unpleasant personality, we get along okay,’ which is not a good sign.

In both instances, we sit down at my booth, we have great conversations, and they start relaying stories about interactions with some past photographers they have used, and they’re not pleasant, they’re not positive, they ain’t great. And they use these stories, these retellings of events about unpleasant interactions with other photographers, as a reason they’re looking for somebody else. Not a single mention about the quality of images that the other photographers produce, nothing about highlights, shadows, color, focal length, nothing. It was all about how pleasant or unpleasant it was to work with these other photographers. That’s why they wanted to talk; that’s why they were potentially interested in working with me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we all have egos that can become overly inflated. I am just as guilty as anybody else. I have had to eat humble pie multiple times and learn lessons the hard way. But if we are working as if we are God’s gift to the photography world, with our figurative noses in the air, just be careful. That reputation will eventually catch up with you.

So, was the trade show worth it? Absolutely. There were times that felt like a chaotic nightmare, but in the end, I made some fantastic connections, had great conversations with some amazing people, and walked away with another lesson: to treat your reputation as a photographer like it’s a precious diamond. It’s one of, if not the most important aspect of your branding.

If you want to learn a little bit more about sales and marketing as an architectural photographer, I encourage you to check out the course that I did with fellow architectural photographer Mike Kelly. The entire course is called “The Business of Architecture Photography,” but within the course, Mike Kelly and I discuss for roughly about an hour certain things that we have done, and still continue to do as architectural photographers, in order to attract new business and new clients. You can purchase the entire course as a bundle, or if you’d like, you can cherry pick and just buy certain segments of it a la carte.

If you got anything out of this video, make sure to drop me one of these. If you did not like the video, I appreciate you making it all the way here to the end. But if you’re going to hit the thumbs down button, make sure to hit it twice for emphasis. You can follow me on Instagram, @MatthewAPhoto. Again, if you made it all the way here to the end, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to watch. That’ll do it for this one. We’ll see you in the next video.