Should I Advertise It on My Car? Newbie Photographer

People of OZB! I am a self taught photographer and over the years spent money on my old time passion and upgraded my gear. I am happy and confident with what I have. what I do not have is the experience of photographing clients (total strangers). I want to excel in lifestyle family photography and some food!

I recently advertised my ad on Gumtree and price my work @ $5-20 bookings fee and no charges after that.

I am getting extremely poor response and people approach are the ones who copy and paste the same message to all the photographers available on the platform and ask me for my portfolio and charges. However, it is clearly mentioned on my ad that I am building the portfolio and what my charges will be for each kind of photoshoot and Its all just the $5 to $20 booking fee and that is all. I just want people to show up on the day!

I am thinking about printing "Get a free family photoshoot" and contact number on a A3 size sheet and stick it on my car's rear window.

What do you guys think.


  • +5 votes

    I don't see why not, but have you tried reaching out to family/friends first to offer a free shoot? With the proviso that they will be used as your portfolio for future clients?

    Out of curiosity, where are you based and what gear have you got?

    • I did but its not same experience when someones pays you as a client. friends want to see photos as they are taken (for instance) which is annoying too. my friends are from just one community and my goal is to reach out people from other communities too. i hope i am making a point.

  • Might have more luck on FB marketplace and fiverr.

  • If you do, get a separate number from your normal number

    • sorry but may i ask why?

      • Easily itemised 100% business use expense, ability to track how successful your marketing efforts have been, ability to "switch off" your job and control when people can reach you without switching off your social life, etc etc etc.

        • Oh yes i got it but at this stage…?

          • @twoperspectives: yes, definitely, before u print out business cards - u need a BIZ phone #

            • @sanchez01: Its not a business yet….

              • @twoperspectives: Yes it is.
                You are offering a service for payment.
                That's a business.
                You need an ABN (if you haven't already got one), a registered business/trading name, and a business plan - at least.
                If you feel that this is too much, just take photos and post them on a web platform where people can see them and judge your ability.

          • @twoperspectives: Yes … note you don’t need to buy a new phone and mobile plan. You could sign up for GoToConnect or RingCentral or something and get a real phone number but which you use via an app on your existing mobile. This protects your own phone number but allows you to make and receive calls on your designated business number, and with lower cost and less contract obligation than a telco service.

  • at one point I bought expensive camera gear and wanted to learn and earn (even though I make enough money from my day job)

    I found it easiest to reply to gumtree adds looking for photographers than advertising myself.

    I got a few repeat gigs for poor pay but I learnt and that was my objective.

    I did food, events, product, and babies.
    sometimes i'd travel an hour to do stuff for 3hrs and get paid $50…

    shit pay.
    but I was after experience to know how to use my equipment.

    Mission accomplished.

    • but I was after experience to know how to use my equipment.

      You learnt on the job? $50 is too much then.

      • True but depends which gear you going with. If your camera is 2000+ and lenses are 1000 each and you have 3 of them and you go to a job and get 50 for three hours it is a shit pay.

        People who invest is expensive gear have usually have hands-on experience with cheaper entry level bodies and lens. in my case i have used a Nikon d5100 (an entry level slr) for years.

        • I started with a 50d and three cheapie primes and a 15-85 and a flash. As I did more and learnt more I bought cheap remote flashes and backdrops and eventually got an ok recurring one with school formals that was a couple of hundred per evening and maybe 10 of those per year

          Then I bought more expensive things like a 6d a fisheye a zoomy lens and kept at it to fund it all.

          My objective was different. To earn and learn so I could fund my hobby. Eventually I just stopped. Now I keep my treasures a humidity controlled box and know enough of photography to help me achieve anything.

          Get a humidity controlled storage cupboard! Fungus has cost me $400 on one lens and $500 in another. Cupboard was $400 off Amazon

          • @FoxJump: Oh yeah. I keep mine is a weather sealer box with Silica Gels but any recommendations for the cupboard?

            • @twoperspectives: Shrug. They're all the same. Mines a forspark 80L maybe. It's like a bedside table, a bit shorter, a bit wider. Has two levels. All my things fit on one and on the other I put my covid19 masks and laptop

            • @twoperspectives: Silica needs to be reactivated often as it gets saturated with moisture and then doesn't do anything.

              Throwing great inside a box with silica isn't going to save it from fungus.

        • Buying a bunch of gear doesnt make you a photographer. Seems to be a common misconception.

          • @brendanm: And charging people while you learn how to use it (see above) is down right ridiculous. You should be very comfortable and confident using your equipment before your first paid shoots. The only skill you should be learning on the job is dealing with people.

  • For around $400 you can get the entire back window in that see through stuff like on buses

  • Try upping your rate. Try some AB testing on other sites.

    People see a cheap rate and assume poor quality (which you may be at this point, I don't know)

    • thats is so true. i don't know if i am that cheap quality but yeah i need more feedback.

      • Post some photos?

      • $100 call out fee, $100 an hour rate, $100 per photoshot, $100 extra for a video, $500 to be print out the photos taken in any size and frame or no frame, if you want, another $250 per photo or video if you want a copy of these photos digitally on a storage drive in its original RAW format and jpg forms.

        There done, I'm sure people will come in the troves by going by your hefty price tag, you must be professional camera man.

  • It probably seems too good to be true, particularly on Gumtree. As above, I think friends and family are your best shot initially. Out a post on Facebook and ask people to share it.
    Have you a website/ Instagram page so you look more legit?

    • I do not a family here and i have done one maternity shoot for a family friend for free. I want to work with people outside my circle for confidence. With friends its never professional we do not even communicate in English.

  • I am thinking about printing "Get a free family photoshoot" and contact number on a A3 size sheet and stick it on my car's rear window.

    This may advertise to thieves to break into your car to see if you have any photography gear.

  • I am getting extremely poor response and people approach are the ones who copy and paste the same message to all the photographers available on the platform and ask me for my portfolio and charges.

    If that's the case, have you tried replying with your portfolio and charges? I don't know about everyone else, but to me, it seems like the next logical step in the process.

    • I do not have portfolio and i am offering almost free service so i can build one and get a website made and have an Instagram page to show people that i am legit. The booking $5-20 will honestly cover the fuel and parking and yes, i am looking for at least 8 families to work with and offer them discounted service for their next shoot.

      • As soon as someone pays, even if it's a token amount, the expectations are usually as high as a professional service. It shouldn't be that way, but it is.

        If you're always asked for your portfolio, you need to build your portfolio. I don't know if it's that way for the high end photographers. It's not an area I know.

        In the creative work I did (editing), I found that before I had build up my portfolio to a level I would be happy with, I was already picking up more than enough work from referrals and repeat business. That being said, I never did discount work. I was more than happy to do work for free that helped me strategically, but if it wasn't something that I believed would help my career, it'd be full price or nothing. Before too long, I was too busy with great and highly paid projects that I was passing on anything that didn't tick all my boxes.

        Most of the careers of the editors I came up who accepted discount gig after discounted gig which didn't push forward their career are still doing discounted gigs years after I left the industry.

        I don't know if that method works for photography, but it might worth thinking about.

        • you're right. I simply can't offer a free photoshoot and spend hours on post work for free. the gear it's self is 5000+ and most people who commented on my post here somehow believed this is first time I'll be unboxing a DSLR on the day of the shoot Infront of my client. Look its not even discount work its a booking fee so people do show up on time on the day.

          • @twoperspectives: Now you have to figure out how to get past the chicken and the egg issue.

            You might be better off paying models to build your portfolio and get exactly what you need.

            Don't forget a really important part is getting the referrals and repeat business.

      • Maybe instead of collecting the booking fee, get them to sign a model release, if you're going to use it on your website.

  • Who would look on Gumtree for a photographer???

    Get a website.

    Jump on Model mayhem, and do some TFP (time for pics) shoots with some models, build up a port really quick. Some people even run classes through there.

    You get all sorts of requests on there, but you can also put out requests like

    Next Sunday looking for red head model with big hooters and some 50's evening wear

    there used to be a very active Melbourne group on Photography on the Net.. had numerous day outs with them shooting random stuff. Even did a couple of wedding "classes"

    • I have a paid domain but no content yet. lol

      "Red head with big hooters" hahahaha

      • If you treat people on there with respect, you can get all sorts of models…
        We did some beach / bikini work, that turned into some lingerie and then into nudes. They liked our work, the girls trusted us enough and we worked with them dozen times.

      • Keep in mind some "gumtree models" are really just wanting a confidence booster photo session rather than them actually wanting to model anything. Or become a model. Or .. anything. It's just a fun thing to do. So don't take it too seriously.

    • We found our wedding photographer off Gumtree a few years back and he turned out to be a real bargain, charging only half price so that he could expand his portfolio then. He was just starting off then but had an impressive portfolio which confirmed to me he had a great photographer's eye and made us trust him with photos on our important day. Fast forward today and he's quite a well established photographer with a successful business.

      Ultimately what makes a great photographer is his or her eye (and IMO great lighting) and not the equipment. Having a portfolio shows any potential client how good your eye is and the style you have.

      I'm not a snob and believe there are great self taught photographers out there but you need to be able to prove it upfront in your sample pics.

      • That's quite an interesting story. I have come to know this when I was deciding to write an advert on gumtree that a lot of photographers out there on FB/insta and gumtree are using stolen photos from other photographers and using them as a display (portfolio) Photos that they can replicate if asked.

  • Nobody will book a photoshoot with a photographer they saw online or in the window of a car that doesn't have a portfolio. I mean literally nobody, even if you do it for free. It still costs them time and effort to organised, make a time with you, etc. Also you will get a lot of no-shows or 'difficult' people if you go free or extremely cheap. Lack of portfolio is the main problem, not the price.

    You say you taught yourself photography over a number of years and its your passion so how come you don't have any photos to show? OK they are not family portraits… you can still put them in a portfolio.

    • Not everyone expects a "professional" photoshoot. Photography is not as popular it used to be. Family photos taken by a photographer seems to be a thing of a past. People do look for cheap offers on gumtree etc I have someone interested for a family photoshoot and paying me $15 (this is how much i asked for in my advert). In some of my offers I am just charging $5 booking fee and if they like the photos they can pay me a tip. come'on what if family is overseas and no close friends? give up photography?

  • Join some Facebook groups and advertise there. Like your local community chat or local buy sell pages

  • Airtasker

  • Advertising is a tactic. You need to define your strategy first. Who is your target? Pick a ripe niche (e.g LinkedIn profile photos). Pick your positioning (e.g 3 professional photo options you can use to improve your career). Then target your market with the positioning message. Ensure your portfolio is shaped to your target and positioning.

  • +4 votes

    I've been a wedding, family and lifestyle photographer for 11 years full time. Avoid gumtree at all costs. You'll find nothing but bargain hunters who don't care about your quality. I've never advertised on gumtree.
    Here's some starting tips.

    1. Start a Facebook and Instagram account under your business name. Start posting every shoot you do on there. People won't buy what they can't see. No portfolio, no bookings.

    2. Charge more. Nobody will commit to a $50 photographer. They'll think you're a scammer coz it's too good to be true. Or you'll only get bargain hunters only. I started at $300 for a 1.5 hr session. Now I charge $750 for portraits and $4k for weddings. Don't make excuses for your price. If they think you're too expensive they're not your client. You need to make enough to cover your business expenses.

    3. Make friends in the industry. People are more than willing to help but nobody likes a leech. Contribute to the community, build your network and eventually they'll start referring work to you.

    4. Offer your time to assist other photographers. You'll get a lot of rejection at first but keep persisting and someone will give you a chance. This is no different to applying for a job.

    5. Get a professional website made. This can come later once you have some work to show off but it is important to have.

    6. Learn how to run a business from other business owners. Getting paid to do photography isn't just about buying a fancy camera and waiting for people to ring you. It's all about the hustle. It's also about getting your business legals in order. Get an ABN. Get a proper contract done, calculate your COGS (cost of goods sold) including your time editing, etc. Do you want to work for $10/hr or $110/hr?

    There's a lot more but these are the starting tips. Keep in mind this is NOT easy. A lot of amateur photographers think running a photography business is easy. It is NOT. There is a lot of hard work involved. It will take roughly 2-3 years to turn over a profitable business, 1.5 years if you're lucky and work really hard.

    Most people who get into the photography business think it's easy because the initial investment is low compared to things like opening a cafe but it's just as hard or even harder because you're selling an intangible product. They never really grow past the $50-$100 shoots and make very little money.

    Good luck ✌️

    • I have an ABN and a registered business name as well as a domain. I just want to understand people and their expectations. English isn't my first language and my accent is bit difficult to understand too. My intention was to work with the "Bargain Hunters" but on my terms not theirs. I know my photography and posing skills are better than any average joe and once I am there with people I am totally into it. My first client paid me double yesterday. I loved working with that family and I do not mind if people give me a negative feedback. I am a learner at this stage which means if I am not 100% there then I not 0% either. I do want them to expect "crap photography from a cheap photographer" but get quality service.

      Your comment is extremely valuable. I will print it on a A4 page tomorrow and keep it as a guide.


        If they paid you double, you're obviously too cheap and they're telling you that. Don't be afraid to charge more.
        Just be aware if you want to work with bargain hunters you will run into quite a few difficult ones.
        That's just the psychology of cheap services.
        Read up the psychology of pricing and the pitfalls of charging too little.

  • Photographs are viewed as precious heirlooms. You as a photographer are an outsider, they need to trust in order for you to capture their "souls".

    People are not going to consider you trustworthy if you advertise on "dodgy" sites renowned for ripping people off.

    You need to research the psychology of marketing/self promotion/advertising in order to get your message across.

    Remember, you are not qualified… people spend thousands in just obtaining that "folded paper"…

    Have you a business name? Is it registered? Are you registered in any photographic society?

    If you say NO to any of these, I suggest sticking to photography as being a relaxing HOBBY.

    • Thats a traditional approach. You go to a shopping centre with your kids and there you see a Santa photo session where a little 6x5 photo with some stranger man in Santa Costume will have your baby in his lap. No one asks Santa for a freaking portfolio or experience. I asked for 20, client was happy with me and paid $40.


        I can tell you from insider knowledge those kids operating the Santa photography stall usually have zero knowledge of how to operate the camera. The equipment is pre set and they're not allowed to change the lighting setup. It's a bottom of the barrel job that no self respecting photographer who do unless they're desperate for money.

  • Your problem is you've placed yourself in a no-mans-zone. Someone offering a $20 photoshoot on gumtree with no portfolio sounds like a lunatic, an incompetent, or someone who is looking to exploit people for nudes/sexually assault someone.

    People's time is valuable to them. They dont want to waste it with some nitwit. Either youre good enough to charge a proper fee, or you aren't, in which case theres plenty of wannabe models on model mayjem who are happy to practice their terrible posing while you practi e your terrible photography.

    Plus $15 isnt worth it to take on all the hassle of a commercial relationship even if you do get hits.

    Having a public portfolio is scary. I dont have one. I'm trying to make that leap of faith too. Its time for you to put up or shut up.

    • Loads of BS suggestions again. I asked $20 and the client gave me $40! - Still no portfolio and it was a 45 min photoshoot.. Stop your negativity right there.

      • Well clearly youve got it all worked out. Amazing how quickly your fortunes have changed since your first post.

  • Opportunistic thieves will love you for telling them that you have camera gear. Park on the street and get a smashed glass, Park on a driveway and wait for the breaking into the house to get your camera and computers

  • Just find a Facebook group for "yummy mummy" full time single mums and post on there, they love free shit.