I love the 'art' of photography. When I started out with a camera I wasn't focused on one specific type of subject. I was more entranced by the magic of the craft. Understanding light and developing my own uniq
e sense of aesthetic was, and remains, so gratifying! However, as I have worked on more and more professional, 'paid' jobs, I have realised that there is an abundance of advice in the photography community that dictates we should 'specialise' in one photographic field or genre. There are many rational and sensible arguments for this but FOR ME, this does not fly with my understanding of the whole point of photography in the first place. Let me explain....
I am a Portrait Photographer
I love the moment when a human subject prepares themselves for a portrait photograph. When they know you are going to push that button and they gaze into the lens, unsure, tentative, sometimes confident and experienced, most times uncomfortable, trying to be 'natural'. I find this incredibly cathartic as a photographer. You are requiring this person to be 'in the moment'. This not only produces (hopefully) great images, but it provides that special opportunity for both parties to connect with one another. A very primal need that is dissipating in our modern 'connected' (pun intended) world. I love these human experiences. Often it takes a while, a joke, a quip, a nod or a look from behind the camera, in order for the subject to allow themselves to just, be...but when it does happen; you both know it without having to check the camera. That's where I find the art in the craft.
I am a Landscape Photographer
With or without a camera, I find that being in the outdoors is one of the overall healthiest things a human being can do. Just go sit on the grass somewhere and after ten minutes, think about how you feel. Add to this, the endeavour of engaging with a weather system and figuring out how it will interact with a specific location, how the light will illuminate mist above a river. Or how a beach will look, at sunrise in Autumn as opposed to Summer. Then layer on the experience of sitting there alone, in natural ambience as part of the planet and its beautiful dynamism. These moments are when, really, the camera part, is the least aspect contributing to the joy of photography. It is just a framework, from within which, we pause and marvel at our home. Sometimes we feel confident to step into the frame and sometimes we don't. I will not give that up. That's where I find art in the craft.
I am a Street Photographer
When you sit or stand back and observe humans in the wild, be that the wild of a city street or the wild of a summer beach day, you can't help but notice the most beautiful of idiosyncrasies. The day dreamer, the spontaneous laugh, the sleepy listener. The details of our human interactions are incredibly artful when caught at the peak moment of expression. Often, even the most dramatic and epic of landscape photographs will not hold the gaze as long as some of the most emotionally driven still images of an authentically dramatic human moment. Truly candid and embedded street (although I don't necessarily believe a street has to be involved here..as long as there are folks moving/hanging about the place...) ...photography will keep you feeling alive and included in your work. This is because you are honing your sense of timing, you are feeling the pulse of life and when you catch the rhythm of it, you click the shutter instinctively. That's where I find the art in the craft.
I am a Professional Wedding Photographer
I was initially surprised to realise how passionate I am for wedding photography, I never really intended to be. But on selling my photographic services to a few lovely couples I could not help but be giddy with enjoyment during those wonderful days. I realised that I was honing each of my favourite photographic arts all in one energetic and fleeting day. I was having to pose multiple people for intimate portraits, with a huge variety of angles. I was having to become proficient with more lenses and camera settings. I had to be able to combine landscape and portraiture quickly and aesthetically. I had to learn how to do sleek product and macro shots, my 'street' photography skills needed to be on point, I had to catch so many important candid moments! All of this had to be done under time pressure while I was interacting and having a laugh with people I had only just met!
I don't care what anyone says, every wedding is different, you can predict some things but you cant reliably predict human behaviour to the degree that you don't learn, every single time you photograph a wedding day. The experience of this led me to fall even more in love with film-making and now not only am I incredibly passionate about wedding photography I LOVE wedding cinematography and jump at the chance to do that as-well as, or in place of stills.
So, specialising is something that I am wary of. I still have a day job. I love my day job. It has nothing to do with photography other than it allows me to stay in a loving and nurturing relationship with photography AND fulfil my familial responsibilities. It also allows me to not chase paid photography work incessantly. I can take a long walk in a beautiful place on a weekend with the aim to hopefully capture some wonderful landscapes. I can do so, without the pressure of thinking that I should really be working on a paid job to ensure my children can eat. This also allows me to improve those skills I will need on my next paid job when I want to pose my couple in the perfect spot for that epic environmental shot. It also means that every paid job I do, I am bringing 100% enthusiasm and passion to the work, mainly because I don't 'feel' it, as work. So, when I read about what it means to be a 'professional' photographer I get annoyed at comments implying that it is essential to specialise. I don't agree. You can be professional AND a Jack of all trades in this game, and for me, it enhances my services to be so.
Now, before the annoyed and hateful comments start to pile in, let me add this caveat; I do not think that professional photographers who dedicate themselves to one genre, and likely do so beautifully, are in any way inferior because of this. In fact, you would probably be wise in choosing a photographer who had dedicated their time to perfecting one area of the craft for their career. This is noble and admirable and they are good. I am merely explaining myself. Just like the art of photography itself, the way in which we express it, is quite subjective and that is where I find the art in the craft.