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screen shot of my current website

Sometimes you know you need to change some things about your work, sometimes you just need to hear it.

Lately I have become obsessed with a few different aspects of my photography, and none of them involve me having a camera in my hand (marketing, presentation, portfolio & project planning). I have been studying a lot of photography for the last month, mostly images by people who shoot the work I want to be shooting. I’m looking to see what type of work is getting selected and also what type of portfolio these people are putting out to be selected. I know some photographers are using reps or some type of agency to land major campaigns. With that thought in mind I contacted the people at Wonderful Machine to see what it took to be considered for this type of representation. The reply I received is one of the most helpful emails I have ever found in my inbox. With the permission of the sender, Bill Cramer, I’d like to share it with you.

I tend to over-think a lot of things. I did a lot of thinking before I sent my email… “should I send it?” “am I saying the right things”, I think I re-read it 15 times before I sent it. In the end I am extremely happy I did. I have to say that the people at Wonderful Machine are extremely gracious. The reply I received contained a 9 point critique of my website and my work. Did he have to do that? Absolutely not. He could have just said, “no thanks, not interested”.
I am a firm believer in going above and beyond, which is exactly what they did, and I will indeed be contacting them about some of their paid services.

Without further adieu here is the 9 point critique I received (I put everything he said in italics to make it easier to read). I hope it will help you as much as it helped me:

1. I think you have a typo on your contact page. It says New Brusnwick, Canada, but should it say New Brunswick, Canada?

2. I wonder if there’s enough fashion photography work in your area. You might have to consider changing your location or changing your specialty.

3. I think you should separate your commercial work (fashion, portraits) from your retail (weddings). Make two different sites.

4. Don’t have subcategories. It makes the navigation too difficult. Just show all of your categories on your main page.

5. I think your pictures are too small and your website is too clunky. You can find an extensive list of website templates on our Resources page. If you need help designing a new site, our graphic designer Peter Clark can help you. If you need help editing your site, Sean Stone can help you.

6. Your portraits don’t look different enough from your fashion pictures.

7. You say at the top of your website that you do fashion, but you don’t actually have a fashion category.

8. You should be looking at a ton of fashion magazines (Italian Vogue if you can get it) and start shooting actual fashion stories with a concept in mind instead of just random individual pictures.

9. If you’re really into fashion, you might consider assisting for some fashion photographers.
Hope that’s not too harsh and I hope it’s helpful.

Vogue Italia October 2011

So #1 is obviously embarrassing, how could I have a typo on my website, yikes…. I didn’t find this harsh at all, I found it extremely helpful. Many of the points he made, honestly, I was aware of. About 2 weeks before I had talked to a friend of mine about the 3rd point and was planning on taking that section off my site. Here’s the thing though, there’s a big difference between knowing something and having someone in the industry tell you about it. The only thing that frustrated me about it was that it made me want to re-shoot my entire portfolio.

Many of the points he made have forced me to take a hard look at my portfolio and re-consider how I am presenting my work. I had always had just 1 or 2 shots from a shoot on my site, where I should have been posting a few more to show the theme and story from that shoot. I do read a lot of fashion magazines but I am now being smarter about what I am taking away from them.

I hope you are able to apply these points to your work and have found this somewhat helpful.

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