Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Un-Define Yourself as a Photographer?

I read an article this morning called, "How to Define Yourself as a Photographer." Not sure what tweaked my curiosity about it. I think I'm fairly well-defined as a photographer, i.e., a pretty girl shooter. Still, I enjoy soaking-in most all things photography so I invested a few minutes reading it.

In a nutshell, the article's author says most of us begin our love affairs with photography as generalists, shooting most anything and everything that catches our eyes. Soon, it's apparent that certain subjects capture our fancies more than others and these are the things we begin to focus on.

Fair enough. I agree with that notion.

The article goes on to suggest, essentially, that we need to take what moves us, photographically moves us, and define ourselves as *that* photographer.

Traditional thinking at it's finest!

Unfortunately, and mostly due to the digital revolution coupled with the internet, traditional thinking has been turned on it ear, whether it's photography, marketing, and so much more.

Whether we like it or not, being a specialist these days seems more appropriate for the hobby side of our photography efforts. For the business side, leastwise for many, especially those starting out, you're competing with many, many generalists. Most of whom include your specialty in their general photography practices.

So what does *that* mean?

It might mean, for many, we need to be generalists as well. If you're already defined as a photographer, you might need, to varying degrees, to un-define yourselves. For many, myself included, that sucks. I'd rather be shooting, make that getting paid to shoot, what I prefer, catching gigs that make sense for how I'm already defined.

But that was then and this is now and now seems to demand pursuing other genres to expand specialties in less definable ways. So now, at this late point in my life, I find myself trying to figure out how to un-define myself as a photographer.


The pretty girl at the top is Chayse, captured in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. I used three lights: 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main and a couple of shoot-thru umbrellas from either side in the rear. One of them, on the left, I raked across her body to mimic light coming from the big windows on the roll-up door in the rear. Probably had a reflector also working in front for a bit of fill... cuz that's how I often roll, reflector-wise.


Jim said...

Unfortunately, for me, amongst (and despite) all of the time and energy I spend trying to 'brand' a specialty, I am finding more and more that I am limiting myself out of jobs (albeit jobs that I really don't LOVE doing, but paying jobs none-the-less). Now, I have not been doing this for 10-20 years, but I really had no desire to be seen as the photographer who will shoot everything from your family pet to your kid's soccer match.

jimmyd said...


I hear ya. And I hear your angst about not wanting to be a generalist. I'm only reflecting what seems to be reality these days for so many photographers hoping to make a living, or some part of a living, with photography. What's worse, all the competition has driven the price down for everything, including family pets and kids soccer matches. Sucks. That's for sure.