If you’re a newspaper photographer thinking about freelancing, or if you’ve made the move and are working on your website or print portfolio, please do this one important thing:
Ditch the newspaper and contest entry buckets.
Toss ’em. Lose ’em. Just fuhgettahboutem.
Sports, News, Picture Story, Pictorial, Portraits, Community Awareness, Features, Portraits, Issues, fashion, multimedia,...whatever.
As a newspaper photographer, you’ve learned all that it takes to cover a broad range of subjects for the features and daily news sections, including making amazing “multimedia” packages. That is awesome because you can adapt pretty damn well. You’re flexible, take pride in it.
If you don’t know already, you’ve got to figure out what you love and what you are good at doing. Once you do, you’ll have clarity. That focus will help squash fears, build confidence and help make the infinite decisions you’ll be making about your business so much easier.
If you love sports and you want to grace the covers of ESPN or Sports Illustrated or want to just sell kick ass sports images, edit your images to show that you are the best sports photographer on the planet. (It doesn’t matter if you think such and such a photographer is better than you. Go for it!)
If you love getting all the food assignments and you dream of styling, setting up lights (or no lights), putting that sprig of thyme in the perfect spot and making scrumptious images of food, focus your portfolio to show that you know what makes amazing food photography.
If you love making portraits, meeting a wide range of people from all walks of life and relish the challenge of making that one picture that says so much about a person, show work that communicates your style and the connection you make with your subjects. Share the range of what one picture can say about a person.
Even within a speciality, there is great depth and variety. You don't need a lot of buckets.
Your niche, your specialty, your je ne sais quoi... If you are still trying to figure it out, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be perfectly defined and as long as you keep a general idea in mind, you can edit your images to attract your greatest fans.
Remember, your adaptability and your flexibility are great assets that will serve you well as your business evolves but when it comes to presenting a portfolio of work, tighten your edit to your dream. This is just one step in helping your true fans find you.