don't just talk someone through your website or instagram feed, give them an insight that can't be found online. - john cockley

When I first decided to look into the business side of photography, I knew the best thing I could do for a solid foundation was reach out to various creators to find someone willing to review my work. While I had done some local work building a portfolio, I needed more depth in my experience, and I wanted to know how I could improve and set myself up for opportunities moving forward. We always have people in our corner telling us how great our work is, but I need to know from someone with a professional base that I have what it takes.

That was over ten years ago. I am confident in my work as a photographer. Hence, I was worried about having someone review my work because regardless of how confident we are, there is always a moment when we second guess ourselves, so this decision initially created a bit of hesitancy.

I decided to do that again this year; it was the best small investment possible. I had the opportunity to discuss my direction, vision, and processes with Kelly Elaine Garthwaite, and to say the session was insightful was an understatement. This most significant learning opportunity wasn't necessarily in my portfolio but more so in how I presented my work on my website.

First, Kelly's approach made me comfortable right from the start. Instead of digging into what I was doing that needed to change, she talked about the positive components of my work with a few small tips, which coincidentally had also been insight I received from Matt Dirksen, photographer for the Chicago Cubs. While I did heed his initial suggestions, it was when Kelly discussed it that I realized I didn't show that in my portfolio, and that was something that I needed to change. The most significant change I needed to address, based on Kelly's input, was how my website looked to the world. Truthfully, I went into the review, not even thinking that my website was an issue. I had laid out a simple, easy-to-navigate space where potential clients could review my work and get to know me. After Kelly listened to my vision and the direction I wanted with my business, she dove into how my website message wasn't aligning with my visionary message.

  • I had too much on my site. Instead of focusing on my sports photography, my website highlighted many experiences I've had in photography that didn't align with my business mission statement. I had never assumed that having too much experience is too much.
  • I needed a simple menu bar. A menu bar should be transparent and require a manageable amount of work when someone visits your site. Her insight helped me narrow the story I wanted people to see when visiting my site.
  • My best wasn't my first focus. I didn't "catch" people when they came to my website; I forced them to look for my best. The home page went from a single picture to a collection of my favorite images from sporting events since that is my main focus.
  • My home page also had everything a potential client needs to see without wasting time to find what they need.
  • A selection of favorite work.
  • Linked to social media
  • Contact Information

While this may not seem like much to some of you, her direction was vital because it helped me not only create a website that I'm very proud of but, more importantly, her comments and our discussion allowed me to take some time to redirect my business model and evaluate what I wanted my direction to be moving forward. Not only that, but our small connection has opened up various learning opportunities and insights that allow me to develop and grow as a leader and a person.

LinkedIn has been a valuable resource for me personally for the last year. I've used it to find job opportunities, learn, and connect. This is how I came across Photopolitic and Kelly. Photopolitic is an invaluable site that allows creators to sign up for one-on-one reviews. Various industry leaders likely align with your business model, and as I said earlier, it was the best small investment I could make for my business.

To set up a review for your business, please visit Kelly has a waitlist, but I promise the experience is worth it.