On Facebook Wedding Photographers a photographer recently posted some outstanding pet pictures. At first it seemed totally off the mark. After all, it's a forum for wedding shooters. But, it's really not off the mark when the purpose of the forum is to help photographers build a stronger business model.
I've written a lot about diversity over the years and a wedding photographer who also photographs pets is right at the heart of the topic. The hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories goes brides, babies and pets. That's it, the Top Three based on a survey Kodak did years ago and I don't believe it's ever changed. In addition, while I've never seen any data on the subject beyond these three, my guess is that children, seniors, family and boudoir are the logical next categories in that order.
So, if you did a great job on the wedding and the client loved working with you, why wouldn't you want to be there when the first child is born? Brides start families and families get pets and a good wedding photographer is right there at the very beginning of the cycle.
There are plenty of people who don't agree with me and feel that being a specialist is the only way to build your business. It's a great way to build your business, but times have changed. In the tough economy we've had over the last few years you've got to build your skill set so you rarely, if ever, say no to a client.
Diversity is a big key to survival and growth in today's market, but there's no room for mediocrity in your skill set. If you decide to diversify then you've got make sure your work is top shelf. There is no room for compromise on the quality of your images, especially when you step outside your primary comfort zone.
And, if you really hate photographing anything but weddings, then at least build a small network of photographers you respect for referrals. Work together to refer business back and forth between each other. Do everything you can so you can always offer a client an alternative other than,
"Sorry, I don't photograph babies, pets, kids, seniors, families, boudoir"....
Photo Credits in order of appearance: © salagatoxic - Fotolia.com, © DoraZett - Fotolia.com, © Denis Aglichev - Fotolia.com