Personal work is crucial. It doesn’t matter if your personal work looks totally different from your commercial/editorial work. Personal work is the work that feeds your soul and showcases your interests and visual personality. It’s your passion and the vehicle that allows you to show what you love and are most proud of – and it just might be exactly the work you want to go after.
© Frank Ockenfels
So how do you show it? Here are a few options.
Website: Create a separate category on your site called “personal work” or something equally obvious, listed somewhere after the main categories.
iPad: In face-to-face meetings, your personal work can be a wonderful conversation piece.
Social media: Personal work posted on platforms like Twitter and Facebook helps introduce your personality to your clients.
Blog: A great way to showcase your passion for photography. Great content provider!
Special bound books: You can create a mini-book or a bound book on a particular body of work … something you can bring to meetings along with your main portfolio. This can be a real attention-grabber. I remember when I was a photo editor at the Syfy Channel and the creative team fell in love with Frank Ockenfels’ personal journal, which was the selling point to hire him to photograph the gallery for “Battlestar Galactica.”
© Frank Ockenfels
Because it’s personal work, you are naturally invested in it, and when speaking about it your creativity, passion and confidence will come through. What’s the goal? To be remembered. Stand out, and they might consider you for the appropriate assignment.
Your personal work helps you build a relationship with the viewer. It can help separate you from all the other talent showing imagery to the same market. But there are some situations where your personal stuff and your professional stuff might not want to mix.
For example: if your personal work is extremely fine-art driven or has a strong sexual undertone, you might want to have a separate website.
Remember: Only show your best work, as you only have one chance to build a first impression.
One other thing: I don’t suggest using your personal work for your main marketing campaigns. Consider keeping your promo selection to your main market and use your personal work as more of a conversation piece – your “above and beyond.”
© Frank Ockenfels
If you don’t have any personal work, I’d recommend thinking about a project or specific subject matter you enjoy and building a body of work. Think about your interests and passions and the subjects that excite you. Then think about the production components needed to achieve great images related to those subjects.
Then keep creating, until you have enough work to edit and be seen. Have fun! Be playful! Stay connected to your passion … create and enjoy! Oh and tell me, where have you shared your personal work? Comment below!
Jennifer Kilberg’s unique insight into the photo industry is a result of her extensive experience and understanding of all aspects of photography since joining the industry in 1996. In 2004, Jennifer started FluidVision Inc. and has worked with a diverse international client base of photographers and illustrators of all styles and specialties. As a strong communicator, Jennifer enjoys working with all types of personalities, and her loyal client base is a testament to her ability to build long-term relationships. Jennifer has worked with Agency Access clients since 2009 in both Campaign Manager programs and other types of consultations. FluidVision
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