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What Not to Put in Your Portfolio

“Your portfolio isn’t made up of what you SHOOT, it’s made up of what you SHOW.” - Photographer, Ben Sasso

As creatives, we love to experiment with different styles, different subject matter, and maybe even take on requests for work that we don’t normally do for extra income. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the mistake that many photographers make is showing ALL their work instead of CURATING their work into a marketable portfolio.

Here are some examples:

◾️A photographer wanting to specialize in weddings includes family and graduation portraits on their website portfolio (taken in between weddings for extra income) and is seeing an increase in family session inquires when what they really want to do is shoot WEDDINGS.

◾️A mother and child photographer was approached by a few small businesses to photograph branding images for their website. After including those images in their social media marketing, a former client assumed the photographer was moving in a new direction and began searching for someone else who specialized in child and mother photography.

◾️A dark and moody photographer fulfilled a few clients' requests for light and airy edits. After sharing these sessions along with their regular work, over time, inquiries came to a screeching halt.

The common thread (and mistake) in these 3 scenarios is that each photographer showed ALL their works instead of CURATING their portfolio for the audience they wanted to attract. This created a confusing marketing message which resulted in their businesses suffering in one way or another. That's not to say that creativity outside of paid work isn't important, or that you shouldn't consider additional income opportunities that might be outside your usual scope, but when it comes to marketing an income-producing business, your focus should be exposing what your audience has come to look forward to and to expect.

Presenting a consistent body of work shows focus and expertise. Your portfolio isn’t to show ALL you do and it isn’t for everyone; it’s a curation of your BEST and most CONSISTENT work targeted to a specific audience that’s crazy about that one thing they know you're amazing at.

The moment you deviate from what your audience looks forward to and expects, excitement wanes and you start attracting the wrong clients, or even worse, your audience becomes confused as to what you really offer and they stop paying attention altogether.

Be strategic with what you share publicly. It’s not about what you’re creating; it’s about what you’re SHOWING.


©Rock Your Rebellion, LLC

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Becca is a photographer and educator in Orlando, Florida. Rock Your Rebellion serves nontraditional couples with alternative photography and fellow photographers with marketing skills to stand out in their market!

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