I’m so excited to announce my art gallery show happening this March in NYC! The event is called Badass Women, and it will feature 50 portraits of women entrepreneurs and female founders in NYC that I’ve photographed over the past year. It will also be a great networking opportunity and is free and open to the public. Feel free to share with your friends and network! You can check out the attached poster, the Eventbrite page, and the fb page for all the details.
Today I’m going to explain how to pitch an idea to a brand. A pitch is basically a proposal or idea that you have for working with a company, in exchange for a trade, collaboration, or to be paid. This can often be a great deal for both parties, because you can offer your services and trade the company for whatever you’re looking for–from a free night’s stay at a hotel to a music festival ticket to clothes from a particular brand you love.
Pitching to organizations or businesses can be really intimidating, but it’s not as hard as you think. In my experience, if you have a solid idea and approach the business thoughtfully, they are very likely to work with you. Here’s what I do!
1. Formulate an Idea & Decide Who To Pitch To
The first thing you need to do is come up with an idea. Something a lot of people don’t realize is you can brainstorm ideas for projects on your own and pitch them to any brand or business, and they might say yes! I do this all the time with brands that are aligned with mine, and it’s a great way to collaborate, extend my outreach, and get awesome products. In the past, I’ve pitched doing photoshoots for social media for food brands such as YumButter, Ona, and EPIC. I’ve asked for a free ticket to a music festival in exchange for photos, a night’s stay at a hotel, and I’ve pitched clothing and product brands in exchange for free swag.
The options are essentially endless, as long as you make sure that the brand you’re reaching out to aligns well with yours. If you do all portrait photography, asking a food company to shoot product shots wouldn’t make much sense. If you’re a wedding photographer, asking for concert tickets isn’t very likely to work. Start thinking of brands you interact with on a daily basis–ads you get as you scroll social media, products in stores you shop in, etc. Once you know the brand you want to work with, come up with a pitch idea that relates to your and their brand. Don’t be vague. Have a specific idea in mind, like planning to pitch a Valentine’s Day lifestyle shoot to a flower company, or an on-the-go shoot for a granola bar brand.
2. Put Together a Pitch Deck
The next step is to create a pitch deck, which is basically a proposal that you create for the company you want to work with. This doesn’t have to be a 20-page document. It can be as simple as 3-4 pages containing the synopsis of the idea, examples of your previous work, and a mood board for the shoot. You should include your information, a link to your portfolio, the concept, and what you’re looking for in the trade.
Taking a little bit of time to create an aesthetically pleasing pitch can really go a long way in getting brands to notice you. Many people simply message a business on Instagram DM or drop them an email, so if they open yours and you have a PDF that looks like you’ve invested more than 5 minutes creating, that immediately makes you stand out.
3. Curate a Thoughtful Email
Draft an email to the brand and attach the pitch. Then give a summary of your idea in the body of the email. Here are a few questions that your email should answer:
- Who are you and what do you shoot?
- What is your project or idea about?
- Are there any important dates/deadlines (i.e. if the shoot is Valentine’s Day themed and time sensitive)?
- How will you do it?
- Where did the creative inspiration come from?
- Why should we feature this?
I’ve attached a few proposals that I’ve recently created to give you an idea of what to create. Canva is a great free resource that let’s you create proposals and PDFs, so if you haven’t tried it yet, I’d highly recommend it. This first pitch is for Getaway House, a brand that focuses on adorable tiny cabins for people to rent to get out of the city. I asked to trade a photoshoot of 20 images for one night’s free stay. They ended up accepting my proposal.
This was a really fun one. I saw Babeland stores around NYC and loved the pink theme. Since that’s super on-brand for me, I reached out and told them I’d love to do a shoot in exchange for free product. Not only did they love the idea and the resulting photos, but they later hired me to shoot a campaign for them. So, it can also be awesome exposure.
This pitch was for a contest for a free music festival ticket at Electric Forest in exchange for photography. You can get creative with it too! Who said a proposal had to be one paragraph of dull text? Make it colorful, exciting, inviting. Along with the pitch PDF, I also included a video. The requirements didn’t even ask for one, but I wanted to introduce myself and make myself stand out from the group!
Check out the video below:
Making the video took about 2 hours, and it gave me a huge leg up in the competition. Which do you think the judges will remember more, a one-page piece of paper with writing or a vibrant multi-page PDF with a fun video with graphics bouncing around?
I hope this sparks your inspiration and gets you excited about collaborating with other brands. Good luck and happy pitch creating! If you liked this article, make sure to have a look at my website, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest! Tag me @gdeimz on social if you make any pitch decks using these techniques!
As I was walking home from shooting another concert around the backdrop of New York City skyscrapers who’s lights had been turned out for the night, I couldn’t help but feel how tired I was. Like physically feel the exhaustion overwhelm me to my toes. I had back-to-back days of shooting and not enough sleep, and I felt the weight in my feet with every step that I dragged myself toward the late night–or early morning, depending on your perspective–subway, massive camera bag in tow.
“Gaby, why do you do this to yourself?” my brain blurted out melodramatically amongst the few taxicabs rushing by to pick up any stray partiers trying to get home. I paused for a second to think about that while I waited for the walk sign at a stoplight on 9th Avenue and 57th Street. Why the heck do I do this? And that’s when the answer occurred to me, plain as day and more clearly than ever before.
It’s true, I’m tired and worn out constantly. My friends joke about how I never sleep, how I’m a workaholic and never learned the meaning of rest or a work-life balance. They’re right. I am working myself ragged. I’m so worn out at night that I collapse into bed because I’ve been giving my all every day, while simultaneously creating the most I ever have in my entire life. I’m using my creativity in ways a younger me would have only dreamed of. I’m freaking fatigued and kind of proud of it.
Here’s why: It’s because I love what I do more than I hate being tired. I love the act of creating, designing, constructing, discovering, imagining, actualizing, making art. I do it all day long and I never get bored of it. Being creative puts me in a total flow state, and when I’m in that zone, I don’t even feel worn down. Being locked in on my craft gives me an outpouring of energy unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It feels like an avalanche of excitement and energy flowing through my veins, a feeling that I cannot explain or replicate. This is the pursuit of a creator.
Which brings me to my second point: I’m trying to be the best the fastest. Leveling up requires sacrifice, and work, and heaps of hustle every day even when you’re running on four hours of sleep, your inbox is overflowing and everything is getting a little overwhelming. It requires persistence and dedication, and those are the deciding moments where you either give in and give up, or buckle down and get back to work. There’s a level of mental fortitude you have to possess to keep at it, and most people don’t get it or want it. But the ones that do, man, they’re the change makers. They leave the comfort zone seeking growth, with an intoxicating hunger for improvement, for progress, to be the best.
Why am I even talking about this? I guess it’s just to say that if you, too, have a deep, deafening passion and are trying to get great at something, if you love something so much that you’re willing to work on it indefinitely, if you’re shooting for a thing that will take every once of your energy, this is just your reminder that you got this, that you made it this far, that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Keep at it, and hustle the hell out of life to get where you’re going.
I’m striving for greatness, and tonight that looks like dragging myself onto the subway, twisting the key into the narrow door of my apartment, crashing into my blanketed bed. And when I wake up in the morning, guess what I’ll be doing? You guessed it, getting right back at it, damnit.
Which brings me to my final secret, the most important one of all and the one we always seem to forget: We have a finite amount of time. Whatever you do, use your time wisely. Feel that heartbeat in your chest right now? It’s thumping away even as you read this, as you decide what to make of your gifts and talents. To my doers and dreamers, do me a favor and use the energy and intensity that you have. Use it all and as much as you can, as often as you can. Don’t let it go to waste. I know I sure as hell won’t.