Being a working photographer today absolutely requires finding ways to get more mileage from your photographs. They're called assets for a reason, and we typically have way more content than we make use of, and just because images are old doesn't necessarily mean they're obsolete. Adding value to images you’ve already created is a fantastic way to work smarter and create new growth opportunities. Below are some workflow tips and specific concepts to help guide you in that process.
Organize Your Image Catalog
A critical start to maximizing the value of your photographs is keeping your catalog organized and final images color corrected for rapid access. The harder your images are to access, the less likely you are to utilize them later. This applies to keeping backups current; If your images are lost, any potential value will be lost along with it. I use Capture One Pro 10 to organize all of my photographs and Carbon Copy Cloner 4 for backups, and that works extremely well for my production workflow. You can check out a YouTube webinar I led with David Grover at Phase One on maximising catalog organization to push your user collections to the limits.
Think Ahead When Blogging About Your Projects
Showing your finished work on a blog is an obvious idea, but think about how you can make it better for your blog. Does your blog format require a specific communication need or layout that you need to fill? I have often forgotten to take behind-the-scenes photographs that I later want to show on blog posts and they are often the most commented on. Another practice I now try to avoid is taking behind-the-scenes photographs with a phone and not a DSLR. The quality doesn’t feel as cohesive or professional, especially in low-light situations.
Guest Blog for Other Sites
Websites are always looking for fresh, relevant content. If you can write, you already have many visual assets to choose from. As a former Apple trainer, creating tutorials come quite naturally to me so I often write workflow articles. As a way to utilize that skill set with Capture One Pro 10, I regularly guest blog for Phase One which I love doing. I get to meet and help many others, who in turn see my work.
Keep Your Portfolio Current
This one is easy, but how often do you see outdated portfolios? How often do you update your portfolio? Are the images representative of your current work and style? On average, how long ago were those photographs created? So often I see outdated websites and wonder if the photographer is still active. This is especially true for digital creative companies. A website is our digital storefront, and our images are the products we are selling, so it’s important to keep work consistently fresh. As important as blogging and social media is, I would argue having an up-to-date portfolio is more valuable and takes less time to maintain.
Are there any new photo techniques you want to learn that can create images for your portfolio? As mentioned with blogging, be sure to also keep output layout in mind. If your portfolio displays best with horizontal photographs, make a horizontal frame, even if the intended purpose was to create a vertical. A mixed variety of images and layouts are good to have available and might not take long to create if retouching is limited.
Curate Your Instagram Feed
For many, Instagram has become a socially connected, interactive portfolio. Conversations are had around work and people often see Instagram initially before getting to a website. Intentionally curating your feed is a means of keeping your strongest work out there. Don’t be afraid to clean up your Instagram feeds and show only your best images. I stopped posting less intentional iPhone images on Instagram long ago and haven’t looked back.
Participate in Portfolio Reviews
Submitting images for critique is a great way to not only receive specific feedback, but to meet industry leaders. An in-person meeting is by far the best for a much more personal interaction. While it isn’t so easy walking into an office for an impromptu face to face, social media makes it super easy to get in front of people. I’ve tweeted to editors in the past and been able to follow up with an email successfully seeking critique. PhotoPlus Expo hosts portfolio reviews every October in New York City. Attending workshops is another way to connect, share, and gain feedback on your work.
Create Your Own Marketing Materials
We're fortunate that we consistently have professional quality visual assets on hand to utilize without having to hire a creative. Making a printed portfolio book, flat cards to hand out at meetings and random interactions, and promotions online through various social media channels can potentially all be based on images you've already made.
Sell Printed Photographs
Selling prints online with a photo service is pretty straightforward. Depending on your work, art shows can be another avenue to sell your work and meet other people face to face. The conversations that happen in person are so much more organic and meaningful than behind a shopping cart online, where the most interaction is in a shipping update or a customer service issue.
Donate a Printed Photograph to a Charity Auction
There are plenty of worthwhile charities looking for support. One way to make use of content you’ve already created is to donate a relevant print to a charity auction. It doesn’t require much time since you’ve already made the work and doesn’t diminish your value. Helping others is not only a good thing to do, in my view as a small business owner it's a responsibility to contribute to making the world a better place, but it also helps you meet new people and get your work in front of new viewers.
So much of our work ends up never seeing the light of day, and others may only have a single purpose, but the majority of your best work can be repurposed. Try to think of ways to use projects on multiple platforms to make your images work for you. Do you have any additional ideas on how you gain more value from your photographs? What works best for you? What practices haven't? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.