Are your shelves stocked?

©Hunter Freeman Studio Inc.

What if you went to buy your morning coffee and they had run out?  Or, every time you went to check the news online it hadn’t changed?  What if you went to the market to buy milk and it was always expired?  Or to your favorite boutique and the selection never changed?  Would you go back?  If you were generous or had a good experience in the past you might give them one more chance.  I bet not two more.

Obviously, every business needs to update and refresh their inventory.  CONSTANTLY.  Choosing to not stock the shelves or trade out the expired items for fresh ones will ultimately cause people to go elsewhere.

So then, why is it that so many photographers think they don’t have to update their own inventory?

Do they think it is because the great images they took yesterday should be enough to sustain them tomorrow?  Are they too busy with everything else on their to do lists?  Or are they just not inspired?

I am guessing the reason changes more often than they shoot something new.

Recently, we attended Le Book’s LA Connections (click here to see our review of the event) Given the amount of imagery being viewed in one day and  the fact that many who stopped by were familiar with our photographers already;  it wasn’t surprising that some requested to see “only the new work.”

By the end of the day, it was painfully obvious that new work was not just a filter for their LA Connections visit but instead one that they use all the time.

This makes total sense.   Everyone’s time is limited.  People expect variety.   They want to know what is next.  You wouldn’t want to read the same headlines over and over, so why would you expect your clients to want to see the same work over and over?

In our group, we remind our photographers that having new inventory to choose from makes everyone’s jobs easier.  We can update websites, create ads, send emailers, make appointments, contact clients on their behalf, utilize social media and cheerlead more for them to name a few.

They hear us say over and over that new inventory yields new marketing opportunities.

Without new inventory, none of us can take advantage of any of those opportunities. Without new inventory no one can generate new business.

Without new inventory there is no business.

6 thoughts on “Are your shelves stocked?

  1. Great stuff Heather.

    I think us photographers should have a “Fashion Week” twice a year where we roll out our latest work for all to see – art directors, designers, art buyers, photo editors, gallerists, reps, magazine editors.

    As each of these weeks approaches, photographers can prepare new work portfolios to be unveiled online and in person. Gallery shows and presentations could be organized around the country with limited invitations sent out to those professions listed above. These could be the hottest two weeks in photography each year.

    Hope all is well.


  2. I’m going to be the voice of decente here.
    okay new is NEW, but what happened to show your best?
    for some of us new work is a massive task, can we get permission to show our best quality over the far easier task of producing quantity.
    The supermarket shelf analogy is a fair one, but following that logic if I see rows and rows of product, the ones I will remember will not be the one thats newest and in ready supply, It will be the ones that are special and of quality.

    Clients want to see new, then how about appreciating the sheer time and effort put into impressing them. New for new sake will be new.
    A folio should say this is what I do…. and not, look how often I can update it.

    So let’s here it for less, a good picture, is still a good picture.

    • Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the blog and comment! Indeed, good work is a given for sure! While I know there is an understanding and appreciation for how long it takes to create great imagery, the reality is that if you are only producing a few good images per year, that may not be enough. Of course there is an exception to every rule. I wish it weren’t true, but those that produce the most GOOD new work and are able to showcase that in their direct mail, websites etc, are the ones that get the most attention. Thanks for keeping the conversation going.

      • it’s a little sad.
        As that becomes circular argument, need money to produce new pictures, need new pictures to produce etc…
        My feeling is that you can produce pictures until you turn blue, but without a quality control valve ( after all we are saying we’re special in some way ) the message can get lost in “look at my output” which is fine if your output is well produced commissions.
        Some can shoot masses and edit back to the salient pictures, others have a more artistic approach and spend eons of time considering details, organizing, planning etc.. and then pair it down to just that one gem. I’m not saying ether approach is better, just the numbers will come out different.
        I’d rather see a single quality picture that can stand on it’s own two feet Independent of the creator, than a new, new, new..
        I like to hope that a single image that ‘sticks’ could be worthy of many, many ‘news’ . I know shooters who have been feeding off images they made 10 years ago, I’m not being disparaging some of those are absolutely worthy of keeping, being proud of something you’ve done is no bad thing.
        I guess what i’m dancing around is, the longer you shoot the more critical you become, the more difficult it becomes to produce less polished work just so you have new work.

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