Shooting New Work: How to Stay Creative Without Confusing Clients
Question: When you find that your work has become repetitive, and that clients always hire you for the same shot, or variations thereof, how do you break away into a different genre? I tend to shoot the same picture over and over, just better and better.
What’s your style? Why is it that a client wants to hire you? With any luck, you have been hired to execute a job because you have done an excellent job with creating and conveying your brand and voice - your style and genre is one that has brought awareness to what you will bring to the table when you shoot. That is a good thing - you want to have a solid brand and be known in the industry for something specific that makes you stand out, in a positive way.
Then again, does it become a challenge to shoot the same thing over and over again? Is repetition really a bad thing, or does it just become boring? You are a creative person and your creativity needs to be challenged. If you are hired to shoot the same subject matter with the same style, you may find that you question your creativity.
Are You Taking Steps in the Right Direction?
This is a discussion that I often have with some of the artists that I work with. I pose it as a challenge to them. For a product photographer it means asking them to push the envelope - to come at something from a new perspective, think about creative surfaces or backgrounds, treatments and such – that may allow for the end result to be different while creatively solving the clients’ need and their own creative dilemma.
Similarly, a food and beverage photographer may feel creatively stymied by the need to shoot product on white. The challenge that I pose here is to work with lighting techniques or focus on texture. Don’t get hung up with the same old perspective. Create a challenge for yourself that will help to get your juices flowing in the right direction.
Be Weary of Confusing Clients
The right direction does not necessarily mean shooting something in a completely different genre; it may mean trying something outside of your comfort zone and seeing how it goes. Be aware that if you decide to venture in a different direction and have been marketing consistently to build a successful and recognizable brand and voice, clients and potential clients already view you in a certain way. You do NOT want to taint or confuse clients and prospects about you and your creative talents. I suggest that you “ease” into other realms of creativity to avoid brand confusion.
There are many ways to begin to push the envelope from a creative standpoint. Consider new techniques, new lenses, new approaches and possibly new subject matter. That said, don’t simply fall in love with this “new” thing because it is “new” and let your rock-steady work fall to the wayside. I also suggest getting some assistance from consultants or trusted peers within the industry to offer insight that will be pure and not colored by the “baggage” you carry with each and every shot you execute. Photographers, and in fact many creatives, have a hard time being objective regarding their work - that is where you need to surround yourself with capable professionals to help you along the way as you push your boundaries.
Many still photographers have ventured into new exciting and challenging projects. Sometimes it is a good extension – it’s mostly trial and error. You will never know if you don’t give it a try!
Katherine Hennessy is a representative and consultant with a proven track record based upon a strong creative background, practical and street-smarts education, and high ethics, paired with agency experience, relationships throughout the photographic industry, and pure gut instinct. kate & company
1. Fueling Your Creativity Grows Your Business
2. Dialogues Podcast: Creativity Pushes the Envelope
3. Why Shooting Personal Work Will Grow Your Photography Business