I spent most of the 80s as principal photographer and executive creative director of my own communication agency. In this capacity, I edited a dizzying amount of professional photographs. Some were my own. Most were from other contributing photographers. That experience of photography editing would indeed pave the way for several decades of more shooting and more editing – especially more editing.
So, you would think with a background like mine that I would be the best qualified person to edit my own commercial portfolio, right? Wrong. I’d actually be the worst choice for the job! Even though I have spent years editing the work of others, I still feel like I need a fresh set of eyes to help me edit my own commercial portfolio.
Which is exactly why I gleefully turned to Agency Access to get some marketing and editing help with my portfolio. The program is called Campaign Manager Pro and my image consultant is Amanda Sosa Stone. You can read more about my work with CM Pro right here.
Here’s the deal … when it comes to photographers editing their own work, the simple truth of the matter is that photographers are too emotionally connected to their images – and usually for the wrong reasons.
I can see the wheels in your mind turning :). You may well ask, isn’t it good for a photographer, at any level, to be emotionally invested in his or her work? Of course it is, unquestionably. But the emotional triggers that attach us to images in our portfolios are, oftentimes, not the same triggers that motivate a customer to license or use that same image.
For example, the emotion I feel about an image or set of images may have nothing to do with the images themselves whatsoever. This emotional devotion and affection that many of us have toward our own imagery, is more often triggered by a memory, a story or a mood – more about how we were feeling and thinking when the image was shot. Or perhaps we were influenced by more mundane impressions like how much sleep we got the night before, who we were with, what was going on in our life at that time … the list goes on and on.
None of these attachments, in and of themselves, are wrong. This is hardly the case. But sometimes this unwittingly influences whether or not a photograph gets included or eliminated from our portfolio. Again, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a fresh set of eyes look at your work, to keep you honest, to keep you on track.
As photographers, we are infatuated and even a little obsessed at times with the craft rather than the content of photography. And that is a recipe for disaster in building a commercial portfolio!
In the world of commercial licensing and usage, what a picture says, content, is far more critical than how it was created, craft. Learn it. Believe it. Act on it!
Keep the photography chatter among your peers. But among your customers, the magic bullet is providing solutions to their needs, short and sweet.
Having said all of this, it was a no-brainer for me to turn the edit reins of my 1,000 plus image submission over to Campaign Manager Pro Consultant Amanda Sosa Stone for a fresh, as well as a more objective, look. Interestingly enough, which came as no great surprise to me, what I got back was a far more powerful edit than what I could have done on my own. Hands down.
The reality is the same emotional triggers that affect a photographer’s judgment generally do not influence third party editors, and that’s a good thing, a very good thing. Professional image editors can look at images in an impartial and detached way, without bias, and have the skill to tell the visual brand story through their selections.
The lesson here is painstakingly simple. Bring in a fresh set of eyes to look at your work. You won’t regret the investment! Get a second opinion. Maybe even a third.
In my case, the goal with Amanda was to select and build out a suite of images for a commercial brand: website, blog, print, email and direct mail. Not only did she accomplish this, she did it with flying colors!
Can a photographer edit his/her own commercial portfolio? Of course. But should they? Probably not.
You normally reap the benefits of someone who understands both supply, photographers, and demand, customers. And not just someone who understands it, but someone who can skillfully and artistically put the right combination of images together that will not only get you work but will keep you busy.
Poor Amanda! I literally dumped 1,000 plus images on her lap with very little folder structure, and I know it took her much longer than usual to reach the bottom of the edit. However, I’m convinced that what she came up with will yield very long-term branding, marketing and promotional dividends. Thank you Amanda. Thank you Campaign Manager Pro. Thank you Agency Access!
Not only will image consultants look at your body of work as a whole, they’ll also help you come up with the right categories for your work. This really helps you formulate that work into a visual brand.
Maybe you’re too close to your own work, too emotionally attached, too subjective. Maybe your lack of objectivity is stymieing you from getting your work to the right market. Consider a fresh set of eyes. Consider Agency Access.
Jack Hollingsworth is easily one of photography’s most well known names in the world of Lifestyle, Travel, Portraiture and Stock. His three-decade commercial career boasts numerous awards, publication credits and satisfied customers. Jack Hollingsworth
3. Part 3: photojack’s Marketing Makeover: Life Happens
Copyright Agency Access 2014. All Rights Reserved.