Just yesterday I received an email blast from a ‘leading industry consultant.’ The consultant told her audience that (you) fail because you don’t have a body of work that will sell. You should check out your visual product, solid body of work around a specific topic and your visual approach. At the line ‘are all images paginated thoughtfully’ I got nauseous.

Is there anyone who can tell me what this email really means?

That is why I am posting this. Because the question is, is that kind of message even relevant?

It gets me upset because vague emails like this are a big black hole for photography professionals. A trap that is carefully crafted to confuse you. Why? Because these statements are designed to buy into your fears. Who isn’t worried if the site flows right and if all images tell the right kind of story? It is the big unknown that you are encouraged to pay dearly for. How can you deal with things you don’t even know?

Yes, you are right, it’s BS.

It’s relevancy that matters. Not an image or two and certainly not one opinion of an ‘expert.’ If you have ever been to a portfolio showcase you will agree that it is amazing how 10 people feel so different about the same type of work. Opinions are good but at the end of the day the client buys you and the experience that they have with you. Which is why you get the job and not the other guy (keeping my fingers crossed on that one!).

What really matters is relevancy. And here is your detailed breakdown of what that actually means:

  • Relevancy makes someone put down money to buy or license you and your work.
  • Relevancy features your ability to be current with colors, trends, techniques and composition.
  • Relevancy is you staying on top of the market place.
  • Relevancy means that it’s work you like and stand behind.
  • Relevancy demonstrates your unique ability to understand the challenges of your clients.
  • Relevancy showcases you as you and not someone else’ idea of what you should be.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in tightening the work. Often less is more. I do believe in specialization and niches. I also love great imagery. But I have been in this industry long enough to tell you that the only opinion that matters is the clients. WILL SOMEONE BUY THIS?

Do this tangible thing now:

Don’t look at your portfolio or your website but take time this week to get up to speed with what is going on in your industry. What are the trends? Who is making a splash? When you got the pulse then and only then will you go back to your online presentation and ask yourself: After what I just learned is this still relevant? And only then you act.

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