• The Secret Books
    The Secret Books
    by Jorge Luis Borges, Sean Kernan
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    Among Trees
Teaching and Lecturing
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Get Real!

When I look at photographer’s websites they are mostly built on the stuff they do for clients…you know, the stuff we all do. And there are lots of reasons to set things  up that way.

 But often there’s a page called Personal Work, or something like that, shyly tucked away.  And I head right for it.  I’ve found that that’s where the life is. That work is just better...more authentic, more passionate, fuller, richer, more alive.

 Some buyers think that if they have a widget job they have no reason to look at your portraits. But the best know that a really good photo of even something so banal as a widget is a portrait. I once showed a portfolio that included personal stuff to a table of creatives. When it got personal, one of them said, “What are you showing us this for?” I knew at once that I would never work with this guy…and I never have. But the others got the connection between what I do for exploration and what they do for work.

 I think this is the reason: the ADs and designers we work with are usually artistic types who realized that they need a job. So if you want to get their attention, show work that is strong and artistic. Seeing it wakes them up, they remember what they saw, and who did it. It’s like the Artist’s Secret Handshake.

The trick is to integrate the strong personal stuff with the assignments, treating it as an important part of your work rather than a side line. By doing so you demonstrate that your own vision informs your client work, giving it resonance and overtones. Lots of people are unaware that this is the way vision works, but it does, whether they know it or not.

Integrating personal work into your commercial portfolio has to be done judiciously, and isn’t going to land on everyone you reach out to, but it can make a difference to those people you actually might want to work with.  They’ll get that you’ll go beyond the bare parameters and bring life to their project,.

There are a lots of factors that give people a sense of what you can do, but this is one of big ones. It tells people who you really are.

So, if you want to attract interesting projects, show interesting work.




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