Let me explain…
What are you?
A couple of years ago I was recommended to a large International Company to be the photographer of choice for a new Marketing Campaign. Clearly the job was going to be quite lucrative but unfortunately another photographer was chosen instead of me.
Now you could be forgiven for thinking that the photographer who got the job had a better portfolio but I was assured that wasn’t the case. I managed to speak to the marketing lead for ‘research purposes’ as negotiations hadn’t even reached ‘quote’ stage so neither was the decision made because he/she came up with a more attractive figure. I was told in no uncertain terms that the company concerned liked my portfolio but I didn’t get the job because and I quote ‘we don’t know what you are”.
You see at the time of all this I had a different website to what you see now. On my old site I had a number of portfolios…Portraits, Weddings, Commercial, and Editorial. Sure I’d done work in all of those areas but this company wanted a ‘specialist’ for want of a better word in one area ie Portraits as opposed to someone touting as a ‘Jack of all Trades’. I can remember feeling totally confused and not knowing which way to turn; I mean I knew my style of photography but what was I?
In November of last year when I was over in Atlanta I was lucky enough to have Zack Arias go through and critique my work; a great experience if not a little unnerving being as it was at around 1.30am and amongst a group of about 6 other photographers. The feedback I got back from Zack was, as you would imagine, incredibly helpful infact as a side note I would thoroughly recommend seizing the opportunity to have your work critiqued by someone who’s work and standing in the industry you admire should the moment arise. Sure at times it may not be all that pretty but if it’s constructive then it can only be of benefit. Anyway after the critique, a couple of burning questions I put to Zack were ‘What kind of a photographer would you say I am? and ‘What area should I specialise in?’ because it stands to reason, if I don’t know what I am, how do I market myself and more importantly ‘to whom’?
Needless to say, having a clearer understanding of who and what I am as a photographer my portfolios have now been ‘slim lined’ but this is something I’m constantly reviewing, as well as what images I choose to show: The Turnaround
Interestingly enough, since having more ‘focus’ and understanding of what area of photography I’m ‘specialising’ in, I’ve experienced a significant increase in enquiries and job confirmations. Hit rate on my site and blog has increased considerably too which can only be a good thing (so long as those visitors are turned into clients of course.)
Those of you who follow this blog will know that I recently completed a 2 week assignment photographing a new Marketing Campaign/Initiative for Air New Zealand at Heathrow Airport, but why am I mentioning this? Well you see Air New Zealand are the very same company who picked another photographer over me 2 years previous because ‘they didn’t know what I was’. This to me was confirmation that reducing the amount of portfolios I was displaying and focusing on one specific area was the right business decision to make.
Now I’m not saying it’s right or wrong to display a number of portfolios on your website, I just wanted to let you know about my experience. However that being said I’ve seen websites from other photographers saying that they do: Portraits, Weddings, Commercial, Editorial, Landscape and so it goes on and I can’t help thinking that having gone through my experience that they’re scaring clients away.
I’m certainly not suggesting that as photographers we only do ‘one’ style of photography but maybe if we do then the best solution is to have a website for each style as I know some photographers do or maybe just reducing the amount of portfolios we display; could this be a case of ‘Less is More’ if you know what I mean?
Have you been through an experience similar to mine when a company who previously didn’t hire you, did once you’d changed your website / portfolios?
Do you think it’s ok to have a wide range of portfolios on your site because maybe it shows your diverse Photographic skills?
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to ‘hear’ them so please feel free to make use of the comments section below.