I have a question – should I specialise or not?
This year I have been working with models for the first time and learning studio lighting, so I set up a Facebook Page and a website to showcase these images, which is going really well. I also have lots of stuff from years ago (non-portrait) that I am going through and I want to re-edit some of them and put them online – urban/decay, buildings, food, children, events, products, whatever. Should I put everything else in with my model/fashion/portraits or should I start a second FB Page for the rest and keep the current Page focused on models etc? Running two pages/websites seems like a hassle! I want to do a bunch of things, not just studio portraits, but should they all be in together? Thoughts, pros and cons would be great. thanks – Jen
This is an actual question that I asked recently on a few Facebook photography groups that I am a part of. I received a lot of great answers so I thought I would share them here, as I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about this issue.
I think it’s good to focus on a few main categories and to make your site style reflect that. However, I think it’s fine to include other types of photography as well, just under a different section. If the non-portrait photos are more for personal use, you could include a “personal” tab in their galleries. You want potential clients to see a wide range of work, but I think it’s better to have a few select categories that you’ve really focussed on and can use to market yourself.
I think specializing (or not) will develop as you develop your skills. You may start to find that you like an age group or style the more that you do of it. The one thing about deciding that you are a specialist is you may end up limiting yourself. Be flexible and grow as you need to.
At the moment I’m enjoying having my hand in different types. I did a football finals match for the first time a few weeks ago and although I don’t want to specialise in sports photography I learned SO MUCH about motion and getting sharper images for my other sessions. I think I’ll eventually specialise but something more like ‘engagements & weddings’ or ‘newborns & children’. I still really enjoy my side projects with photography so I imagine I’ll always dabble.
Personally, I would use one website, and one Facebook page. If there is a type of photography that you KNOW you don’t want to do, leave those photos out. Personally, I’m still gaining experience in different specialties, and I still feature (and market) a little bit of everything I do. In the future, I see myself leaning toward doing family, children, maternity and weddings, and less newborn photography. I don’t think I will turn down newborn clients, but I will definitely place my marketing focus on the areas of specialty I enjoy more.
I shoot everything and I wouldn’t change a thing. I love variety. I have everything together on one website and one Facebook page and I get enquiries to shoot all kinds of fun things. I know some people specialise. But I wouldn’t. I think I’d get bored doing the same thing day after day.
Find your target audience and chase that. For example I am an event and portrait photographer but I take street, landscape and all sorts of stuff. If you look at my website you will see none of that. The reason is that if you blur them all together people will never remember you for anything in particular. I take this even further and although I take portraits of models I rarely put them up either. Why? Because they don’t pay the bills and the normal person looks at them and doesn’t get a feeling of family or couples (my target). It is also for this reason that any lingerie or artistic nudes that I do will never see the light of day with my name against them. I can’t risk the damage to my family portrait brand, and it would also exclude me for school events. So to answer your question, yes specialise but don’t exclude the experience of other work.
You could keep your Facebook page tight then show more variety on a blog if you like.
Why don’t you do what I’ve done and put a page inside your main page with all your earlier photography in it and call it “earlier photography” or something like that. That way possible clients will see how you’ve progressed over time to where you are now. Just a thought.
It’s been always a question for me. It seems like you don’t have to specialise in one single category, for example portrait and weddings are close, weddings and events are close, etc. I’m also considering what I should do with those product photos that I have taken though!
What about a page like Flickr for your other shots? I have a separate page there, it’s free and you can group photos in different sets. You could add a link to your Facebook Page to your other work.
Whatever you post, post for a reason, keep it well written, and down to the best of the best. I think it is okay to keep different styles in one place, it means you can put your full effort into making it good, and reach all your followers at once. Later on once you are more well known, and have bookings all year round it may be worth specialising, and potentially creating a site just for weddings or your area of expertise. However if you shoot a lot of one thing it will probably start to take over your page/site anyway, and you will potentially get more of that type of work than others anyway, so you can just feature it on your site, while showing other things that you are capable of in a different section. They are all part of your journey, and I think people like to see that.
Personally I feel that if people have to follow you in two places, it may become a hassle for them, and anything you want to post in both could be a bit annoying. People often won’t necessarily associate you with a specific type of photography, unless you are really specialised. Just whether you are good, and if they like what you are doing. People might only remember 1 or 2 photographers names – how will you be that person?
I feel you would have to have a lot of time, and a large market of clients to make two pages work successfully. It is easy to start 2 pages, but much harder to maintain them and keep them healthy long term – I know even maintaining a blog and updating one page can become a drain for really popular busy photographers! Personally I feel that if that same time was invested into one page your effort would take you a lot further.
I think most of us would know the KISS rule – Keep it simple stupid! Cut out unnecessary hassle, adapt and refine your workflow, look at how you can improve, and develop what you have into something great! It’s okay to show old stuff, but post for a reason and talk about it – let people know how, where, why you shot it, what you learnt, what you enjoyed about it, backstory to the photo, what inspired it etc, would you want to do something like it again? Whatever you do, think it out, make it good, and create engaging posts that people enjoy seeing.
In some cases two pages makes sense. For example someone who does family/portraits/babies as well as pinup/boudoir.
When I’m not working I will often shoot differently, try different modes and settings and ideas, as well as different editing processes. Because it’s more experimental it’s not always my best work, but it helps me to develop my work process and adapt how I shoot, as well as keeping it fun. Variety really helps to work out how you like to shoot in different conditions.
These answers really helped me to get some things clear in my mind about how to present myself and my photography online, and I thought they might help you too. Thanks to the photographers on Facebook who took the time to answer my question. (Some answers are edited slightly for readability or space).
So what did I decide? I am going to take the varied approach as I think it is more authentic for me and the way I like to do things. I will show a variety of work – here on my blog, as well as on my Facebook Page – while keeping the Portfolio area of my photography website tighter.
What do you do? Leave me a comment if you have any ideas about this.