How To decide your Artistic Identity and Business Focus | Part 4
Business Focus | Today vs. Tomorrow
In my previous story, we looked at comparing where you are Today with where you want to be Tomorrow from both an artistic and business perspective.
In the example Strategy Canvas, the key differentiators were |
- Art: Unique subject matter. “I like working on a variety of subjects.”
- Art: Unique style. “My art will be easily identifiable.”
- Art: Tone. “Fun.”
- Business: Easy to work with.
- Business: Portfolio. “Diverse.”
- Business: Output. “I’ll do one photoshoot per week.”
- Business: Price. “Freemium.”
The next step is to group these differentiators so you can take action to achieve your goals over the next two years.
- Art: Unique subject matter “I like working on a variety of projects” leads to the need for Business: Portfolio. “Diverse.” In other words, if your goal is to be a commercial photographer, you’ll need to build a diverse portfolio to show potential clients how your photography fits within the look and feel of their brand.
- This leads you to the need to temper your goal of an “…easily identifiable [style]” with what your potential clients need. On-the-other-hand, if you’re focusing on editorial or developing your own artistic/business model (entrepreneur) then you’ll need to have a much stronger focus on developing your own identifiable style.
Style | Cohesiveness
There’s nothing that differentiates a professional from the rest than a cohesive style. It can be as simple as how much saturation and contrast you use in your photographs. Or it could be as complex as seamlessly bringing together color selection, texture, lighting, costume design, hair and makeup (HMUA) and scenic design.
The key item is to always start with a concept. Then plan your photoshoot. If you haven’t done any planning (winging it) it will show in each of your photos and across your portfolio.
Example | Cohesiveness
Concept: Telling the story of a long-lost relative whose ethnicity has changed across a span of generations.
Once your one-line concept is in place (no more than two lines of text), then it’s time to write a one-page story around your concept answering the questions:
- Who is this person today
- What were they like growing up
- How does the person fit within your concept
- When does your concept take place (past, present, future), season, time of the day
- Where does it take place (location)
Building a Portfolio | Planning
Whether you’re building a diverse portfolio or one that focuses on a niche you’ve created, planning is the key to success. And that means planning across your portfolio–50 photoshoots if you’re following my initial recommendation.
Example | Commerical Photography
While keeping in mind the cohesiveness of your style, commercial photographers need to put themselves into the mindset of their potential clients.
But prior to doing so, take a week and identify who you want your clients to be.
Tip: Start specifically with print magazines. Which companies advertise in the genre you plan to target? What product and services are they advertising? What’s the look and feel of their current advertising?
Now you’re ready to plan your photoshoots.
Business Strategy | New Business
Your portfolio is ready. Your website is up-to-date and easy to navigate via a smartphone browser and your contact information is readily available.
Now it’s time to start reaching out to the companies you researched during your portfolio planning stage.
Large or small, each company will have someone with a title similar to Vice President of Marketing. They may not be the final decisionmakers but they can introduce you to the decisionmaker.
Using LinkedIn as a research tool, search for your target company’s decisionmaker.
Then reach out to them via direct E-mail (not LinkedIn’s integral E-mail). Their E-mail address will likely be their first and/or last name @ company.com.
Tip: Send your e-mail to each potential version of their E-mail address.
Send a brief E-mail (1 paragraph of 4 sentences) introducing yourself, telling them what you love about their company and how you can help them achieve a particular goal (increase revenue). Ideally, you’ve read their LinkedIn profile and can start your E-mail with a sentence of something that you share in common.
Tip: This is the identical strategy of writing a cover letter to the hiring manager if you were trying to get an interview with a company for a job.
Finding the right person is paramount, otherwise your cold E-mail is likely to be unread. But the content and presentation are equally important.
With the preponderance of E-mail, sending a printed letter via UPS or FedEx (with delivery tracking) is helpful. It’s a relatively unique way of delivering a letter and you know when it’s been received and by whom.
But take the next step to leaving a positive impression.
Example | Be Unique
I researched a Vice President on LinkedIn and found that we enjoyed the same particular sport. My cover letter started with a question: “I noticed you enjoy XYZ sport; who do you think will win this seasons 123 event?”
My cover letter was stapled to one of the leading magazines in that particular field of sports.
By using UPS to deliver the package to the Vice President I knew when the person received it and set a calendar mark to follow-up with them in one week if I hadn’t heard back.
Five days later the Vice President E-mailed me. Although I ultimately did not get the job, I have a 90% response rate using this method. And I have their contact information to say hello to them via E-mail once every six months. You never know when a new job will become available. Keeping your name in front of a decisionmaker could make the difference.
So now it’s up to you.
What questions do you have? What clarifications do you need? You’re invited to post your responses on my Instagram account @TomLibertiny2D
This story is an excerpt from Concept, my upcoming photography book. To learn more about my books and classes and to receive a discount, you’re invited to subscribe to my List by clicking HERE.