How to differentiate authentically + consciously

Written on April 29, 2011 by in Business savvy, For photographers only

This post is the fifth and final in a series sharing my thoughts about the state of the wedding and portrait photography industry and how we can all work together to make it better.

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If you’ve been reading my series this week, you already know the Art Aligned platform: Successful artists and photographers differentiate themselves authentically. That authenticity comes from playing to their strengths and honoring their motivations, vision and style.

The idea of infusing yourself in your business can sound like an anything-goes, “I’ll just do what feels good” kind of platform. It isn’t. It begins with the understanding that you must make choices.

I know that money can be a powerful motivator and that there is significant temptation to try to be everything to everyone. The truth is, though, that you can’t be everything to everyone. Trying to be creates a muddy image that appeals to no one, and it leads to burnout for you. (I’ve been there, I know!)

Art Aligned is about differentiating authentically and consciously. It is about making choices that allow your art and your business to stand out by acknowledging what makes you stand out.

I recently listened to an interview with a California-based portrait photographer. I was excited to see her website afterward because she had a clearly defined vision — she believes that all women are beautiful and deserve images showcasing their unique beauty. When I went to her site, however, I was confused. Side-by-side with beautiful boudoir portraits were photos of newborns, engaged couples, families and more. If I was a prospective client, she’d have just lost me. Her vision doesn’t match her deliverables. I give her props for having a vision, though. All she needs to do is clean up her site so everything is in alignment.

I have encountered many photographers who either don’t have a clear vision for their work or choose to keep it a secret. If you don’t explain to people what your unique offering is, they’re not going to figure it out. Either you’ll lose them immediately or they’ll think you do one thing when you really do something entirely different. Save yourself and prospective clients the stress and confusion: Take a stand for something and share that message in everything you say and do. And remember, the better aligned your deliverables are with your message and with you, the more likely you are to attract clients who’ll love what you do for them.

If you have questions or need help, drop me a line. I love hearing from you!


This post is the fifth in a series about the wedding and portrait photography industry. You may also be interested in:

  1. State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography
  2. Differentiating your business, part 1: Why the old ways no longer work
  3. Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding
  4. A new framework for business success
  5. How to differentiate authentically + consciously

And now, a big thank you to Denise Olson of Mommy and Me Photography, who graciously allowed me to use her “Jack the Camera Man” session to accompany this blog series. Thank you, Denise!


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  1. denise olson
    May 9, 2011

    you are welcome!!! Wonderful information!!!

    • Kate Watson
      May 9, 2011

      Thanks, Denise! I really appreciate your support and recent FB/Twitter love.

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