Showing Fewer Styles Will Book You More Photography Jobs

It took roughly five years to learn the lesson the lesson that helped increase my bookings. That lesson was show fewer styles to book more.

How is that possible? I would assume that hiring a photographer who can do landscape, food photography, weddings, fashion, portraits and newborn photography is an asset! That is what I used to think. You want me to downgrade my abilities in order to be considered an asset? You want me to hide my talents and expertise to make someone feel better? Nope, that's not what I will be doing, thank you very much! Then I realized the key was to view change my perception and put myself in the place of the hiring person. It was that easy, just change my perspective and see it through their eyes, and I began seeing the hiring process differently. 

Are You a Master?

Here's a way to explain this. You want to be excellent at something, not good at many things. For the mundane and ordinary, you can be just good enough, unless you want something specialized and unique. What's unique? A wedding photographer or the baby's first photo shoot is anything but mundane. It's a unique and special time in our lives. What about a 50th anniversary party or a profile photograph for your new job? Those are all special events and deserve more than just good enough.

Beauty Campaign, Walid Azami

Clients want a master for those special moments. They want someone who has experience and opinions, someone who will hold their hand through the process. Photographers, for the most part, fall into special moments of life. This is beautiful, and this calls for a master, not a jack of all trades. 

How do you know if a photographer is a master in their line of work? Generally, they show one or two styles over and over. They've been able to master these styles and produce success over and over. That type of expertise justifies a higher fee, because you are a master in that style. You're the go-to person. 

People Want to Look Good

What does this mean? It means that you have an obligation to make the person who hired you look good. That's really what everyone desires. They want to be the hero, the one who gets the credit, and you should help them. Knowing this is a big help, because you can position your pitch differently. 

Who is hiring you? Is it a junior ad executive looking for a raise or promotion? Help them look good by being a master at something. Make it easy for them to hire you from the pool of selects. How can you increase your chances of getting hired? If you want to do product photography, make sure your website shows predominantly product photography. Show them that you can produce successful shoots over and over. You've captured perfume bottles, jewelry, and beautiful shoes. Show them product photographs of watches, savory drinks, and electronics. 

Do not complicate their decision-making process by adding landscape photographs, wedding photographs, some medium format film, fashion catalog work, then product photography. Show them you're the master, not the jack of all trades. Make the hiring decision. 

Who do you think the new producer will hire? Will they risk their reputation on a jack of all trades or a master?

Make Them the Hero

Another way to look at it is to make them the hero! Make them look so good that they come back to you again and again, never risking any shoots with another photographer. The video explains this in far more detail. 

In the example of the junior ad executive, do you think they will use your services when they leave to another agency? It's a no-brainer! 

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Mr Hogwallop's picture

It also it depends on your market and skill level. Some have a solid idea of what direction they want to go, but most people start out as generalists (aka Jack of all trades) either because they are in a small market or have not settled on a specialty. Hope fully something clicks and they decide or become very good at a specialty where they can charge more money.
In Detroit where I came from there were a lot of car shooters, 2 people shooters and bunch of multi-product shooters. The car guys and the two people shooters made a lot of money. the Multi product folks...had lower prices but made it up on volume. I went from multi products to cars. And then moved west when things started to get bad...
A small market might not have a high paying specialty but can have plenty of opportunities shooting multi products (food, architecture, fashion, lifestyle, small product. corp. comm, insurance, healthcare, etc.)

Dana Goldstein's picture

Very true, and along similar lines, if you’re in a small and niche market, and can show that you know your location inside and out, that in itself is a form of specialization.

Walid Azami's picture

Totally! I started that way also, photographed everything I could. Over time I found myself gravitating towards a particular style and my clients began to recognize that.

Tony Clark's picture

That should have been a two minute post, how many times can one repeat the same point?

Walid Azami's picture

There's always that one person who takes a moment to say something negative. I don't see the use in that, especially from a photographer with beautiful work like your portfolio. But to answer your question: I don't know how many times, but I do know it's about 8 minutes worth of repeating the point.

Jeff McCollough's picture

It's because he needs to learn how to do videos.

Rui Bandeira's picture

that "Jack of all trades master of none" really confuses me...
shouldn't the photographers be Masters of controlling light, instead of Master of shooting girls, or master of shooting fashion...?
why the renaissance man should be extinct now?
Yes i feel more comfortable shooting concerts and product, but doing these 2 different types of photography gives me some experience to do other types of images...

Walid Azami's picture

Hi Rui. I agree with you. I'm uncertain if you saw the video in full? I believe that photographers should always shoot and never discriminate on styles. Shooting one style inevitably adds skill to other genres. However, the people who hire us often have little knowledge about photography. They assume that if you capture concert photography, you have no idea how to photograph a wedding. While we know this is inaccurate, we must adjust ourselves to the client. They hire us, they pay us, and this video is about seeing it through their eyes to increase bookings.

Rui Bandeira's picture

Hi Walid.
Yes i saw your video in full.
I understood what you said.
my reply about the "Jack of all trades master of none" was not focused on your article, is was more on general use of that frase, and how it can limit creative work.
On my web site i have 4 portfolios Product, Concerts, Bikes and cars and interiors, but we can count it down, because cars and bikes are just big products, like interior images, can also be seen as a big product, but on concerts i usual get asked to do portraits of the bandas, and that leads to get called to do images of them for album covers, were i have to use flashs and work almost like a fashion session...

Walid Azami's picture

Got it! Thanks Rui.

Darren Loveland's picture

I think it's important to be able to learn and obtain the skills to accommodate many genres of photography. However, it's even more important to market the services in your STRONGEST areas. I never, ever advertise that I shoot portraits, but I get asked all the time for portraits or commercial head-shots and I do it for an appropriate fee. I have all of the gear, lighting, backdrops, etc; but I never post or advertise about it. When the work comes in organically, I'm prepared and it helps gain revenue and more importantly, referrals for my stronger genres of photography work. Same for video work and events.

Walid Azami's picture

I agree. It's just about positioning yourself for the market. When work comes in from another type of photography request, do it. Make the money but it doesn't always have to make the portfolio. Thanks for the comment.

Dana Goldstein's picture

Very important point Walid - just because we shoot something, doesn’t mean it automatically has to get added to the public portfolio. If someone wants to know if you can shoot headshots for example, you can always send a small collage in an email just so they see you know what you’re doing, make a day’s work and be done. But you don’t have to show it if you don’t WANT to get hired for it.

Will Fahy's picture

This approach made me decide to start

I do other things too, but I built a site around footwear photography. for my other work.

Any others built a specialist site for their niche?

Walid Azami's picture

Will I LOVE that you picked that domain! Clever and clickable. Great job.