It’s not good enough to approach a photo editor and tell them to trust you, that you’re sure you’ll do a great job if they’ll give you an assignment. Good work begets more good work, and you need to be able to show people that you can do the job.
It’s hard for people to take risks, so you have to show your prospective employer that you can handle the job you’re asking them for. If your whole portfolio is tabletop product photography, they may not want to trust you with a fashion editorial. If your website is dedicated to wedding photography, you may not get the Formula 1 ad campaign. It takes time, (and often a lot of trial and error) to start honing in on the type of work you want to be doing, but once you figure it out (or, somewhere along the way) that’s the work you should be showing as soon as possible.
If most of your experience is designing corporate websites for law firms, but what you really want to be doing is wedding websites for newly engaged couples, start targeting the engaged couples. (If you’re having a hard time committing to one particular style or kind of job, consider making a secondary portfolio of the kind of work you’re comfortable doing. For example, your wedding websites portfolio site could have an “other projects” page that shows some of your corporate work.)
If you don’t have a portfolio of client work in your desired vein, start making some work of your own in that style. If you want to be hired to shoot editorial portraits, you should have a website of editorial portraits. It doesn’t matter too much whether a client paid you to take them, or you talked your uncle into posing for you; the results should be good enough in both cases to show your capacity for the type of work.
It’s a little ironic that you have to do the job to be able to show that you can do the job, but there it is. Do you agree?
image source: normanack