This blog I will discuss Modeling Portfolios vs Regular Portraits. I know what you’re thinking, why the heck is this blog entitled Modeling Portfolios vs Regular Portraits. This blog is BY NO MEANS comparing models to regular people or to say shooting models is better than shooting people. Shooting models & regular people is a preference that varies from each photographer. It’s intended to illustrate that as a photographer, if you love photographing people, then be open to balance the two out or pick or the other and stick to it.
Hopefully, this post will inspire someone and learn from my mistakes. I also want this to be a learning experience too. If you happen to take up a new hobby as a photographer and you’re serious about it, You will definitely benefit from this. While you may love a certain genre of photography, if people are willing to pay for your services/talent, take the opportunity if it’s worth your while. Please keep in mind that it’s up to you to find your niche in photography as well and understand it’s okay to say “No” to some gigs. Remember you don’t want to hurt the market by taking every opportunity with little to no pay.
When I first started freelance photography, My first gig was shooting behind the scenes for a video shoot. It was around that time, I realized that I can earn a decent living over time doing photography. I began to practice with people and the world around me until I got a good feel my newly purchased entry level canon DSLR camera. It was also around the time circa early 2012, I began to models and a local music artist here in Columbus GA. I fell in love with shooting models, never to look back.
Over time, while gaining some traction with my work, I met a lady that had a modeling team here at the time trying to get her business going as well. I began to shoot her models which would be considered a time for trade shoot, in which me and the people involved would trade pics as payment for time. It was also around the time, I was sought after by a few people that liked my work at the time, requesting to book me for regular portraits session. Needless to say I wish I would’ve been more confident in myself and work to take those opportunities because there were times I missed out on opportunities due to being blinded by modeling photography. This was also around the time, when I saw other photographers works that blew my mind, I got a little discouraged which in terms caused me to take a little break from photography and much more not post my work on social media.
After a little bit of a hiatus around fall 2012, I returned to the scene to continue to shoot models. Around this time, I began to attend a poetry show that ran shows once a month around here and I proceeded to capture their events for the next year and a half. Also I was approached by a few people for regular portrait sessions. I provided my services for some portrait sessions opportunities, however a problem again because I loved to shoot models. I didn’t take some of those opportunities to shoot regular portraits and earn money.
In 2013, while the owners of the poetry shows, models and some clients were receiving their images, I was still blinded to shooting models. I also wasn’t posting much of anything else on my website or social media if it wasn’t modeling photoshoots. Here’s where I made a big mistake. During the summer and fall of 2013, I did a 5 year old’s birthday party and baby shower. As soon as each client received their images, I kept the images on file for 6 months. After 6 months, I deleted those images, even the finished product, because I was blinded by shooting models thinking, I had no need for those images. A decision until at this point I regret making because I could’ve shown potential clients, that I am more than capable of covering a baby shower.
I continued to push with shooting the poetry shows and models until I left for Korea in the spring of 2014. While in Korea, I began to shoot everyday Koreans & tourists in the form of street photography. While I enjoyed street photography, I was also shooting some of the american and Korean models as well. I also had the opportunity to capture two friends of mine wanting to take some photos before a military ball. I also provided photography for the job I doing at the time in Korea.
I returned back to the states April 2015 and didn’t shoot again until May. I went to South Carolina to photoshoot a friend’s grandson’s 4th B-Day party. I have those images that I will post at a later time. In June, I did 2 regular portraits sessions first with a lady I met that day and since has been a good friend of mine. The next one later in the week, with another good friend of mine that I’ve known since 2012. These two good friend of mine were the people telling me that my work is great and I should be getting paid. I began to take that into consideration but not quite yet because I had to missed at least one more opportunity for it all to sink in.
The last time I didn’t do a paid session was last summer, when a lady of one of my friends reached out to me to shoot her child’s senior portraits. Either out of fear or being stubborn, I didn’t take this opportunity. Needless to say, that could’ve been the one to propel me to where I could be right now with paying clients. During this time, I was shooting models more than ever, however I began to approach regular people and photoshoot them as well.
While I enjoyed photography up until that point, there was missing something in the process. I wasn’t earning money back in my work. Part of this was my fault. During 2012-2015, my confidence & self-esteem was low when it came to posting my work, meaning I was caught up with likes, good comments, but not marketing my work that ultimately would bring in money. I wasn’t quite confident in posting my work myself on social media outlets because I was too busy trying to come off as perfect in my work which over time I began to realized that I am not perfect nor I am nowhere near the greatest photographer. I have a library full of photos I haven’t posted yet but will see the light of day soon.
The lightbulb finally came on when I realized that, unless you’re working for a modeling agency, selling the images to a art gallery, magazine, clients, etc. and/or if a model is paying you to build a portfolio, models paying photographers are very slim. In most cases as a photographer, if you approach a model first with a concept, more than likely, you have to pay the model especially if they’re portfolio is amazing or if they’re modeling full-time as a main source of income, as opposed to regular everyday people paying you for your artistic talent. There are special circumstances: if a model is blown away by your work and/or if you have a amazing concept she doesn’t have in her port, she will more than likely be willing to do a time for trade photoshoot though this is not always guaranteed depending on the model.
I must admit that it took a while for me to realized this especially since I didn’t have someone constantly telling me,”Hey I know you love shooting models, but to make money and reach a larger market/audience, you have to shoot everyday people because everyday people do not relate to models.” This explains why I have a lot of work with models but not much portraits sessions with regular everyday people. I have posted works with models however I believe a lot of potential regular paying clients haven’t or can’t contacted me because all they see my from my work is models. Since they can’t relate, a lot of people believe that’s all I shoot. I have to admit that it’s a mistake I made early on in my journey with photography. This is a issue I am fixing this now because I am more than able & willing to shoot regular people now, I just need time to work my way into their graces and prove myself. I learned from my mistake and I am in a better position now. I still shoot models on the regular, however now I finally understand that regular people are the ones who enjoys my work and are more than willing to pay me for my artistic talents. I love to shoot regular people because it gives me the opportunity to capture them in their everyday lives or illustrate a day in the life of that person that will last a lifetime. I still love to shoot models as well, however now I have balanced shooting models and regular people.
Today, I am confident to say I am available for booking. I am comfortable with my work, I know everyone will not like my work and that’s okay. I am confident enough to own, promote my work especially if it means getting more eyes and bring potential paying clients to my work. My confidence is not based on likes or follows because the some of the people who are watching you grow but is not liking or commenting are more than likely the ones that will contact you when the time is right and everything falls into place.
If you happen to enjoy my work and I fit your vision, please feel free to contact me. At the end of the day whether you’re a model or everyday person, I am more than willing to photograph you that will create a story. I appreciate you taking time out to check out my work. Please enjoy your day and I hope to hear from you.