Podcast Episode

The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #20 – 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


00:30 – Introduction to portrait and beauty photographer Zach Sutton, who is also the blog editor for Lensrentals.com

1:30 – Zach talks about creating a cohesive portfolio

2:15 – Zach discusses the importance of making mistakes when building your portfolio.

3:00 – The crew talks about how to build relationships with agencies to help build out the portfolio

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

6:30 – How to advertise for the work you want to be doing, and not always the work you’re doing

10:00 – Zach talks about the importance of an agency and having people in your corner

11:45 – Talking about client preference when working with agencies verse working without them

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

13:00 – Zach talks about turning a side hustle into a full-time career, and his start in music

14:15 – Zach talks about building a business based on self-imposed struggles

16:50 – The value of showing appreciation to your clients

17:55 – The importance of SEO, and building a brand that is easy to find

19:00 – How to use SEO techniques within social media

20:15 – Zach talks about the importance of advertising your work on social media

22:25 – Zach talks about workshops and the larger photography conferences, and how they’re important to photography

24:50 – Zach talks about his sponsorships and how to develop brand relationships

26:00 – BREAK

26:30 – Zach talks about the gear he uses, and what he first started with

27:30 – How much money should be invested into your camera gear and the importance of your gear

29:00 – Zach talks all things lighting, and the importance of investing in quality gear

31:30 – Zach talks about all the other equipment he uses outside of just lighting and cameras the help make his workflow easier

32:45 – Zach discusses the importance of tethering when shooting, for both portfolio building and commercial jobs

33:45 – Talking about the importance of working with teams

35:30 – How to bill clients effectively and to price your work in your competitive market

38:30 – Zach talks with Sarah and Joey about effective invoicing strategies that assure you get paid on time

40:00 – Zach talks about the importance of insurance on professional shoots and your business

42:00 – Zach finishes the podcast with a pep talk about practicing your skills


The Lensrentals Podcast is hosted by Roger Cicala. Our sound engineers are Ryan Hill and Julian Harper. Our other regular contributors include: Sarah McAlexander, Joey Miller, John Tucker, Drew Cicala, and SJ Smith. Our theme was composed by Jacques Granger. You can find more of his work here and here.

Let’s keep this conversation going! Leave a comment on our voicemail at 901-609-LENS or shoot us a question at: podcast@lensrentals.com

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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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