Do What You Love & Love What You Do.
I LOVE a brand new squishy baby. I love photographing newborns. I really do love spending 3-4 hours in a hot room getting pooped on, rocking baby to sleep, waiting for snack breaks with mom, changing diapers, sweating, crawling on the floor, and spending 20 minutes getting one pose. I’m not lying. That’s what I love.
If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. In fact, I know plenty of photographers for whom that sounds like torture! Do you know what I think sounds like torture? Weddings, landscapes, commercial work, and product photography. I’m guessing that there are plenty of you reading this that love one of those categories more than any other. There really is something for everyone in the field of photography.
What DO You Love?
When I first started my business I made the mistake that a lot of new photographers make. I shot anything and everything. I would shoot ANYTHING if it would get a client in the door. But guess what. I’m not good at everything! Are you really producing your best work when you are not comfortable doing it? Maybe, but probably not. From my own experience I can say that you will be more successful when you offer fewer products and become the best at what you do.
You are a photographer because you are passionate about SOMETHING. Identify your passion. Running a business is hard work. You need your passion to stay motivated and continue to love your work.
Why Less Is More:
There are several reasons for offering a limited number of products. Most of these reasons are blog posts unto themselves, and categories that I will be covering in the next few weeks.
Branding: You want to set yourself apart in the market. We all know that everyone with a nice camera fancies themselves a “professional” these days. How are you different from all the rest? If you’ll shoot anything, anywhere, anytime, you’re NOT different. Your specialty will help determine your brand.
Time: I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how valuable it is. One of the reasons I do not like to shoot weddings is that weddings happen on weekends. Weekends are family time for me. Lots of wedding photographers love the fact that they can shoot all weekend and spend the rest of the week editing in the cool quiet of their office. (Because I’m sure wedding photographers do nothing but relax during the week! 🙂 Please don’t yell at me, I’m just kidding! You only have enough time in the day to do a few things very well.
Temperament: This is so important. Not everyone has the patience, time, or desire to photograph newborn babies. Not everyone likes getting up at the crack of dawn to hike to a beautiful landscape opportunity. (*raises hand). Why be miserable? There is a market out there for every product. Do what makes you happy.
Skill: Let’s be honest here. Photographing a newborn and photographing a law office require a different set of skills. One I do very well. The other, not so much. I don’t see the point in taking on a job I’m not sure I can do well. I do not want a disappointed client, and I know plenty of photographers that would love a commercial job, because that’s what they do. I’ll send the commercial clients to them and in turn they will send the newborns my way.
Marketing: Your advertising budget will go much further if you target a specific audience. Instead of trying to reach everyone, you only have to appeal to the clients you really want. For me it’s pregnant women and new moms. I know where to find them and that’s where I advertise.
Gear: Buy what you need to do what you love. I need a posing beanbag, blankets, and about 10 million hats, bows, and crocheted animal sets. I use mostly natural light and a couple good prime lenses. Not at all what a wedding photographer needs! Think of all the money you can save by specializing!!!
I think it’s pretty safe to say that when someone loves their work it shows. Both in the quality of the product and in the experience of the client. Just one more reason to do what you love and love what you do.
Next week we’ll talk about branding. Creating a brand is a crucial step in setting yourself apart from the competition.