We’ve all heard that old adage, “Jack of all trades . . .”
I don’t believe it. I think we can all be experts at many things.
I’ve always been something of a rule breaker, especially in areas where the rules are pretty ridiculous, and I’m sorry to say that there are an awful lot of photography rules that fall into that category. So today, I want to tackle one of what I believe to be many of the photography rules meant to be broken.
Let’s be clear, though — there are some rules that should never be violated, under any circumstance, such as safety, but that’s a subject for another post.
I have lost track of the numbers of times I’ve heard people say that as a blossoming professional photographer, one must find their niche, and stick to that one genre of photography, at the exclusion of all else, so that one may master that area.
I disagree. I would say instead, shoot what grabs your interest, regardless of what it is. And the more the merrier.
I have heard it said that a good photographer can create a good image of virtually any subject. I don’t know if I would categorize myself as “good,” or my images as “good,” but I certainly know any number of photographers — locally and internationally — who do fit that description, and they are very, very good photographers.
I also know that I shot photos of a cousin’s Victorian home just because I loved the look of the rooms, posted those images on my website, and within a couple of months, was hired by our local lifestyle magazine — to shoot homes.
But there are many photos on my website, of many different subjects, and before long, the editors of the magazine had me shooting everything from products to portraits, from feature stores, to monthly columns. And I’ve been doing that for over three years.
Shooting odd things of interest has netted me other jobs, too. I have wandered around downtown, shooting odd buildings. People see those images on my website, and I end up with a job shooting an annual report for a local shopping center management company.
For as long as I can remember, I have had an appreciation of construction equipment. Bulldozers, scrapers, cranes . . .
I was downtown late one day last week, and lo and behold, one of the local crane companies was in the process of putting one of their big cranes together in the middle of a major street. Having some time on my hands, I grabbed my ever-present Nikon D810, and started shooting. One of the workers asked who I was shooting for, and I told him I was shooting for myself.
I went back the next day, while they were actually working, and fired off a few more. I chatted with the crane’s operator (who has a lot of “hurry up and wait” time on his hands), and he asked if I would share the photos with him. I said, yes, and we exchanged information.
After processing the images, I sent him some of what I thought were the better ones, sized for the web.
The next day, I received an email from one of the company’s managers, asking if they could buy some of the full rez images. Seems the operator showed his bosses what I’d shot. I ended up selling them 4 images. Did I make a lot of money off the sale? No. Was it more than enough to pay for lunch? Heck, yes. Will they want more? I don’t know, but I do know that I would never have made this sale had I not been shooting something a little odd that I just happen to be interested it.
The takeaway here is that I don’t fit in any particular “niche.” I’m all over the place, and I prefer it that way. I love the idea of being sent on an assignment that would make other photographers knees wobble, and coming back with images that the client is very, very happy with.
Shoot anything and everything, and get as good at it as you can at all of it. If nothing else, as a photographer, getting good at some obscure subject will make you better at what you love. And as a photographer, does it really matter what we’re shooting, as long as we’re shooting?
Except it’s weddings. I just can’t do weddings . . .