I had an email from a new reader (welcome, Tonia!) who was asking if it’s necessary to take photos you don’t care about in the beginning (like families) just to build your business or if there’s room to have a clearly defined business model/style from the beginning and stick to it.
From the way Tonia worded her email, I assume she read How Trashing my Best Work Made my Business Stronger. In it, I talk about how I came to the realization that shooting things I just wasn’t interested in was really screwing up my business and muddying the waters of what I truly wanted to be doing: childrens’ portraiture.
When you’re freshly starting out, you’re generally willing to shoot anything and everything and if it paid you a couple bucks, great! If not, it was still a thrill just to get out and shoot. But the more you shoot, the more familiar you will become with your interests and a more clearly defined style will begin to emerge. From that, you can decide what type of photographer you actually are. Weddings, children, boudoir, sports, commercial, etc. But once you figure that out, well done! You’re ready to stop doing everything else and start your business.
If you’ve already started a website at this point, you’ll have to go in and revamp your portfolio to reflect the type of business you’re ready and willing to do. If you don’t want to do weddings, don’t post wedding photos. Don’t post photos you wouldn’t be able to replicate for a paid session (no lucky shots!) and only display your best of the best.
Learn to say no and not accept work that doesn’t fit your passion. Simply put: building your business on the types of sessions you loathe is like mixing chocolate cake batter and being surprised when you don’t get a carrot cake in the end!