Should a Photographer Show Every Photo Shoot?

Business

Dear Jasmine,
I recently shot an engagement session for clients who wanted a completely different look and style to what I do. They were very country people. Burlap roses. Cowboy boots. Turquoise crosses. Tractors. Matching Camo hats.
While they loved the pictures we came away with, personally I am horrified and am so embarrassed to put any of these images in my portfolio. Is it wrong to say that I don’t want to attract those clients? I didn’t post any Facebook teasers. I didn’t put them up on the blog. I didn’t show anyone their pictures.
Did I miss a marketing and advertising moment here? In doing that, do those clients feel left out because I didn’t treat them equally? 
Sincerely,
Capturing Country

Dear Capturing Country,
At some point in the course of a photographer’s career, they will face a similar situation (even if it’s not in the shape of uber country tastes). However, there are two main things I want to address: 1. missing a marketing opportunity; and 2. not finding your voice in the noise.

Firstly, your clients hired you because they liked you. Something about your work made their burlap roses bloom. In all seriousness, they trusted you’d be able to document everything they like about themselves…and then some. The fact they are happy reflects on your skill as a photographer, but I want to challenge the idea of your creative entrepreneurism.

Yes, there have been shoots when the couple and I have nothing in common (stylistically, tastefully, artistically), but it’s my job to find beautiful connections where it might not at first seem apparent. If you shoot the session just to do a job, then of course you’ll simply fulfill your responsibilities and call it a day. But you’re missing the chance to define your workmanship…and marketing potential.

My rule of thumb is to shoot 90% for the clients, and 10% for me (and, ideally, they love my 10% making their session 100% of happiness). If I were you, I’d shoot the heck out of the tractors, turquoise crosses, and camo hats…then I’d carefully curate a few shots of just the couple (away from their signature looks) to ensure I pushed myself creatively and dialed into the shoot in the best way I know how. These photos–the carefully curated photos that reflect my style–would be the ones I shared online as a representation of my brand.

Lastly, you asked if clients feel left out by not sharing their photos on Facebook, your blog, or social media. And the answer is yes. The answer is always yes. Not only did you miss a marketing opportunity for sharing the curated photos from the shoot, you ran the risk of making your clients not feel worthy enough. These two elements hurt your business and I hope you learn from this shoot…if there’s anyone who can make burlap roses look good it’s you, so own it. Shoot for them, shoot for you, and shoot to make them feel a part of your business pride.

I love my cowboy boots,
j*