I feel like this post needs to begin with a disclaimer so as to protect myself from a lynch mob of angry fitness talents wielding dumbbells and barbells instead of torches and pitchforks who did not take this article in the spirit of which it is intended. Although that is a humorous visual!

The title of this should read “Things that don’t matter to me as a fitness photographer… and as a model you should put less emphasis on in your marketing efforts.”

However that is a super long and boring title so I just left it as “Things That Don’t Matter to Me.”

1. The Size of your Social Media Following: Several times I’ve had talents attempt to leverage the size of their Twitter followers or Facebook likes as if it impacts my willingness to consider them for a project or helps me in any way. I congratulate you for having a few hundred thousand followers – but that does not translate to you doing well in front of the camera or being a great consideration to feature within the pages of a publication. It is like the guy with the receding hairline and the mid-life crisis who overcompensates by buying the overly large vehicle.

2. If you’re sponsored by a company: Once again, congrats to you. But once again it is irrelevant to your abilities on camera. That is unless the company which sponsors you has you often shooting for advertising campaigns and you can share that previous work with me or with a publication. Then it translates perfectly and should be showcased. But standing at a booth handing out samples does not equal great imagery.

3. If you’ve received your pro card: I fully realize, respect and admire the investment and dedication it takes to do this and those who are able to achieve it have my respect and kudos. It is a testament to your determination to your goals and the willingness to achieve them. But your achievements on stage do not relate to your potential in a photo shoot. They are two separate entities and should be treated as such.

4. The resume of photographers you’ve worked with: I would hope that you are working with the right photographers to build a quality and marketable portfolio for yourself. However listing out the photographers you’ve hired does not equate to a resume.

So… now that I’ve raised blood pressure and temperatures a bit, let me list out the things that do matter and hopefully cool things off.

1. Your portfolio. I want to see the work you have done. It showcases your on-camera ability, the quality of work you’ve engaged in, the print work that you’ve taken on and the like.

2. Your resume. I want to know what companies have hired you to either appear in their pages (editorial client) or to represent their brand in a commercial/advertising sense (commercial client).

3. Your story. When it comes to my work, particularly in pitching to media outlets – story is everything. Perhaps it is being an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. Maybe it is a story of community and tribes. The story of why you do what you do.

If you’re still reading (which I hope you are) my intent is not to diminish having a great social media following, being sponsored, having a long list of photographers you’ve worked with or earning your pro card. These can be and often are fantastic accomplishments.

The goal (albeit a brash way of doing it) is to encourage you to focus on the facets of your journey that translate to the recipient. Whether it is a photographer you’re looking to collaborate with or a publication you’re hoping will pick you up for a feature.

Focus on what matters and is important to them.

James Patrick
Twitter @jpphotography
Instagram @jpatrickphoto