Podcast Episode

The Lensrentals Podcast – BEST OF: How to Make Money Shooting Portraits

Published March 12, 2020

Each week Roger Cicala, founder of Lensrentals.com, hosts conversations about the art and science of capturing images. From photography to videography, film, history, and technology, the show covers a wide range of topics to educate and inspire creators of all kinds.

How to Make Money Shooting Portraits

Zach Sutton is a Los Angeles Photographer specializing in headshot, beauty, and portrait photography. He is also our blog editor! Joey and Sarah talk with Zach about how he built his brand, grew his connections, and has become a thriving photographer. He shares why he thinks you should always test shoot, SEO tips, and addresses the ever difficult issue of how to price yourself.

Los Angeles Beauty Photography

From headshots, to beauty photography, to product photography, Zach Sutton has found a way to diversify his work and gain the attention of both his peers and clients. Attention that has gotten him the endorsements from Profoto, Tether Tools, Capture One, Fine Art Backdrops and more. Listen in as Zach talks about how to run a successful portrait studio in multiple locations around the United States, while following market trends to help create a successful business.

Beauty Photography in Los Angeles

Among some of Zach’s favorite gear mentioned throughout the episode include the Profoto B1X, Inovativ Voyager Evo Cart, and his Canon 5d Mark IV.

Follow Zach Sutton on Instagram
Follow Zach’s work on his Website


00:50 – Introduction to portrait and beauty photographer Zach Sutton, who is also the blog editor for Lensrentals.com

1:50 – Zach talks about creating a cohesive portfolio

3:00 – The crew talks about how to build relationships with agencies to help build out the portfolio and the importance of test shooting

4:20 – How to branch out past test shoots and shooting for free, and building a profitable business

6:20 – Zach shares how to advertise for the work you want to be doing, and not getting stuck in the work you’re doing currently

10:00 – It’s really important to have a wide network, including getting an agent and valuing having all types of people in your corner

11:45 – Joey asks if all clients preffer working with an agent, and the cut they take

12:00 – How agency fees work from both the client perspective and photographers perspective

13:30 – Zach talks about turning a side hustle into a full-time career, and his start that was in music, not photography

14:40 – Zach talks about building a business based on self-imposed struggles

17:10 – The value of showing appreciation to your clients

18:15 – The importance of SEO, and building a brand that is easy to find, and the importance of utilizing alternative text options responsibly.

21:00 – Zach talks about the importance of advertising your work on social media

22:55 – What about workshops and the larger photography conferences, and how they’re important to photography?

25:10 – Zach talks about his sponsorships and how to develop brand relationships

26:00 – BREAK

27:30 – Zach talks about the gear he uses, and what he first started with, and how much money should be invested into your gear when you’re starting out

30:00 – Zach talks all things lighting, and the importance of investing in quality gear

32:45 – Zach talks about all the other equipment he uses outside of just lighting and cameras the help make his workflow easier including tethering when shooting, for both portfolio building and commercial jobs

34:50 – Talking about the importance of working with teams

37:05 – How to bill clients effectively, helpful invoicing strategies that assure you get paid on time, and how to price your work in a competitive market

41:25 – Zach talks about the importance of insurance on professional shoots and your business

43:15 – Zach finishes the podcast with a pep talk about practicing your skills

The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, SJ Smith, Julian Harper, John Tucker, and Zach Sutton. Other contributors include Roger Cicala, Joey Miller, Ally Aycock Patterson, Joshua Richardson, and Philip Robertson.

Thanks to Jacques Granger for our theme song.

Submit a topic idea, question, or comment, leave us a voicemail at 901-609-LENS, or send us an email at podcast@lensrentals.com.


Author: Lensrentals

Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.

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