If you want to be known as a specialised photographer, you’ll need to start presenting yourself as one. The advantage of doing this is over time if you are consistent your audience will get to know you for it. Once that audience is built, they will come to expect your consistency and share your work with others once a trust has been built. A simple example would be if you want to be known as the black and white still life photographer, only show black and white still life work. Don’t share anything outside your chosen genre, because this could jeopardise your consistency and alienate your audiences expectations.
Playing it safe by doing a little bit of everything be it weddings, product, portraits, events, isn’t going to help people know you for one specialised genre. Sure you might land some great gigs, and get the ball rolling in regards to income, you might even make a comfortable living from it. But if you’re honest with yourself you might find you only like taking portraits, but sadly have to take bookings for other types of gigs. If this is you, you have played it safe, you have not put all your eggs in one basket. I personally shoot all kinds of things, but I only show the world one basket (genre). That’s because I want to be known for that specific type of work. I want to eventually make a living off it.
What advantages come from only showing one specialised type of work? What’s great about it? Doing one thing really good, helps you stand out. You become known for that one specific thing. It helps separate you from the group. A word and mouth conversation will go like this. “I know a photographer who only does product photography for beer bottles, she/he is expensive but you know you will get the best quality you can buy for your campaign.” The market might not be that big for this specialised genre. But you might become well known for that one thing, and because of this, you can charge out the wazoo for it. Instead of doing 3 to four gigs a week to pay the rent, you might only need to do 6 or 7 gigs to pay the rent for the rest of the year. The more specialised you are the higher your quality naturally becomes, and because your quality is high, the amount you can charge can go up.
Word and mouth become your marketing tool. A personal conversation might go like this for you, “What do you do?” “I photograph gay weddings” “Really? I know a couple that might be interested in you.” The advantages of being so specialised are that word and mouth can spread your business because it is so unique. Another thing that can help your word and mouth is exclusivity, people like being a part of something exclusive, that only a few can enjoy or be a part of. It gives them bragging rights to talk about you do in front of their friends or gives them a good story to tell. Because your work is so specialised only the specific group of clients can be a part of it.
Only show what you want, helps you. If you needed a new knee would you choose the surgeon that does body joint replacements? Or would you choose the specialist surgeon that only does knee replacements and nothing else? Most people would choose the specialist because the risk is far lower. Why choose someone that can do a little bit of everything, when you can choose that person that only does that one specific thing that you need. Specialising instantly gives your clients confidence and peace of mind about spending their hard earned cash.
Fake it till you make it. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. What I’m getting at is, how your present yourself to the world matters. Show the world the person you are and want to be.