Do you know who your target audience is? Who it is not?
Every so often, I get inquiries about nude/boudoir photography, and I don't do that type of work, for several reasons. However, I do know of an exceptional person who does, and I refer them to my friend/colleague. On occasion, usually in the Spring, I get a call or two asking if I do senior portraits - I do not. Again, I refer these folks to someone I know. Unless you're a boudoir or senior portrait photographer, the above are probably good examples for you too of the type of work you also don't do. From this point, it's about refining your message even further.
Editorial? Portraits? Reportage? Commercial?
Sometimes, you have to make choices, other times, no. The above can co-exist, however, each distinct client base needs to see you in your best light, with best examples of that type of work. Perhaps the way you do this is to, for example, have your wedding photography on a separate website from your editorial work. I have talked several times to photo editors who, when I asked how they came to call me said "I did a search, and first eliminated all those photographers who do weddings..." because they had seen weddings as an option on their website.
You also should understand the power of "no". As in "No, I won't shoot your magazine assignment for $100...", or "No, I don't do pro bono work for for-profit companies..." It's these types of requests that come in...."it'll be a great opportunity for you...", or "everyone will see your photo credit....". The next use of the word "no" comes about for types of photography. As in "no, I don't photograph nudes..." or "no, I don't photograph Bar Mitzvahs..." and so forth.
I know many a photographer who should say no when asked about a particular assignment. Yet, they don't. They simply say "sure..." and then muck it up, producing sub-par results. IF you're going to be this type of a photographer, at least hire assistants and production people, and so forth - specialists - who can hold your hand through the technical issues you'll encounter that you've never had to think about, or deal with. This maximizes your likelihood of success. Far to many a New York photographer can't light themselves out of a windowless room, yet can deliver amazing images because they hired the right assistant who actually does understand strobes and softboxes and transfer edges.
By focusing on your target audience, and delivering in your style is the surest way of sticking around.
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