Four Ways Personal Photo Projects Can Boost Your Business

Whether you're just starting out in the world of professional pet photography, or you're a seasoned pro, a familiar trap that many of us can fall into is creating photography for our clients and not ourselves. Creating a personal photography project will not only reignite your passion for your craft, but it can also seriously boost your business. Here are four ways personal projects have helped increase my client base, revenue and marketing strategies.


#1 They can lead to partnerships

One of my longest business partnerships came from a blog post that I wrote after a weekend  at Countrywide Cottages.

I have a tendency to leave my camera behind when I go away "I'm on holiday, I don't want to think about work!" But at the time I was trying to make a conscious effort to shoot more personal work - especially of my dog Lyra. So I photographed my girl as she explored the Aussie bush - I loved the results and published them on my blog after our trip.

The owner of Countrywide Cottages found those photos and contacted me proposing a partnership. The relationship grew organically from there - it's win-win-win for us: Di's clients have an even more awesome experience & keepsake of their getaway, I book clients who may not have otherwise known about me and Di gets access to gorgeous professional photography to use in her business.

If I had contacted her "cold" and suggested that she advertise my business to her clients, would she have been so receptive to the idea? Maybe, maybe not. One thing is for sure, bringing my camera to shoot some personal work on that holiday has resulted in thousands of dollars in revenue, some amazing clients and a partnership that I value to this day. 


#2 They jumpstart your creativity

Back in 2013, I challenged myself to a personal project that I (very imaginatively) called Lyra's Project. I wanted to create unique portraits of my own dog each week, so I joined a Project 52 Group - basically a group of photographers who created one photo per week according to a theme. There are plenty of these groups still around - in fact, the my original group is now on Facebook (click here). 

Not only did this project mean that I now have some of my favourite portraits of my furry sidekick, forcing myself to experiment each week resulted in some unique techniques and poses that I could then bring back into my business.

For example, this long exposure portrait of Lyra in the city is a style that I still have clients specifically request to this day - and a photo with that much detail and colour usually ends up being printed large and hung on their wall!


You can’t use up your creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
— Maya Angelou

#3 They build your image library

Not only will personal projects doubtlessly result in some gorgeous new work for you to show off on your website and social media, but they can allow you to grow your stock photography library. As long as you make sure you have the right photography release forms signed by your client (check out the Lawtog for examples), selling stock photographing can be a great way to diversify your income and make your project profitable. 


#4 They make great content for your own book 

What's a sure fire way of establishing yourself as an expert in your field? Publish a book. I've been a big advocate of using book publication as a marketing strategy for photographers for years - not only does it increase your credibility, it can also surge your business revenue, fire up your creativity AND boost goodwill (if you use it as a fundraiser).

With print-on-demand self publishing available through companies like Blurb, your book project can be as little or as big as you fancy. 

Caitlin McColl