Making an impression with your unique style

Welcome to the new  Artist’s Market Online site: this will help you to find new photography markets, promote your work and create or improve your revenue streams.
This is also my first posting on the newly formatted blog, so please allow me to introduce myself. I’m the managing photographer here at F+W Media, creating still and video content for all of our community’s publications and web properties and overseeing the staff and operations of our studios in Cincinnati, Ohio and Iola, Wisconsin. I am a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photographic Arts and Sciences and hold a MFA in Photographic Illustration with 30 years of professional experience. I have worked in just about every professional situation you could imagine, including owning an award winning commercial/advertising studio for 14 years. My hope is to impart as much of my experience and wisdom as I can to all that want to listen. I also welcome your questions, comments, and opinions, and hope we can create a truly open exchange. Despite my years in the industry, I realize that I don’t know it all and relish that I can learn everyday, it’s what makes photography such a rewarding career.

I would like to thank Mary and Joie for keeping the stream going this year, and all of you that have been following.

So let’s get into this. I would first like to expand on the comments presented in the Don’t Neglect Your Portfolio! posting. All of the information was valid but I feel that we should expand on it a bit.

The statement “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” could not be truer when it comes to presenting your work. This being said, the cover of your book should to make an impact on the viewer. After all it’s that first impression, creating something unique that you can carry though all of your presentation is a great first step. A story from my past illustrates this well. A few years ago the trend for portfolio covers was sleek black leather books with your name or logo embossed in to it. I was one that was sucked into this look. So the story goes, I was called by my rep to send off a portfolio to a local agency looking for a new photographer for a new client they had just landed. I decided to drop it off while I was out on some errands that day; this was out of the ordinary as we generally sent them by messenger or by mail. To my horror, when I went in to their office and handed over the book, it was stacked onto a pile of at least 50 books that looked just like mine. That was the day that I decided to make the change, and spent the next few weeks putting together a new unique book that represented the look and style of my work and me. The impact that this made was very positive and that first impression helped to open more doors than ever before. When I made follow up calls after portfolio deliveries I got comments like “you’re the guy with the cool copper book,” “Yes we remember you and your book, would you please send a quote on this project” and “We love your work, can we keep this on file?” The take away from this is you need to stand out, a philosophy that you should apply to all of your work.

Next is the content: this is a very subjective thing, but there should be no question that it should be you best work. Where you place yourself in the market and the type of work you want to get from your book should direct the content you include. The quantity you include is also a subjective point, more is better is not always the right way to think. I feel that 12-15 images is a good balance, but again that’s my choice and what I include shows off what I can do. You should start with one of your strongest and finish with your best shot, leaving them to want more. In my humble opinion the most important thing is keep it fresh, put recent work in all the time. Let’s face it, at least those of us that are attempting to get agency or design work rarely get a job on the first showing. So keep up-dating what you show. That’s not to say replace all of the work every time the book goes out, just a few new strong fresh pieces will show your growth and vision as a photographer.

Another valid point is to tailor the book to the viewer or the job you have been called for, this is true no matter what you shoot. Doing a little research or asking the potential client a few questions about what they want to see can give you some incite and a leg up on the others that you may be competing with. How you choose to present your work whether bound in a book or loose in a box is more a personal choice and not that important in my opinion. The key is making it flawless, clean and professional. This will speak volumes about you, much more the format it comes in.

As I said above, I welcome you thoughts, questions and comments. And if you have specific issues you feel we should discuss post it and let’s see where it goes.

Ric.

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