Multi-disciplined Photographers - Why they are best?
NEVER EVER SPECIALISE.
There I've said it, and I've said it all you budding wedding photographers, portrait photographers, fashion photographers, sports photographers et al.
These words have been ringing around my head for the past, ahem 42 years as a pro photographer. Spoken by my very first boss, Frank Barry in Hayes, Middlesex. Frank had been there for over 40 years himself, establishing the studio in around 1930.
He said, don't ever specialise.
And he was, is, absolutely right.
Now you're thinking, 'say what', 'I photograph what I like to photograph' and here is the first problem when becoming a professional photographer.
YOU ARE NOW NO LONGER DOING IT FOR YOU, BUT FOR A PAYING CLIENT.
Now, this is great if your client likes sunsets, but generally, it's of something much less impressive to you, but vitally more important to them. Their widget is THERE life and if you want to earn a living as a photographer, you need to learn how to photograph a widget. However boring it is to you.
So now that the shock is over, and now you realise this photography lark is actually difficult, why do you specialise?
Here are the three compelling reasons why you shouldn't:
(1) I've never counted but there must be 15 different types or genres of photography. Fashion, sports, wedding, portrait, events, headshot, aerial etc etc. If you are a professional, that means you HAVE to earn a living at it. If a potential client is recommended to you, but you simply say 'don't do that', they WILL find someone who will.
You have then potentially lost not only income from a single job, but the chance to become their incumbent photographer for ever more. You've opened the door to your competitors.
Thing is, if you choose one type of genre to specialise in, you've narrowed your chances to win business DRAMATICALLY. Accepting 1 out of 15 types of work, is not good business practice.
(2) All photographic genres have TOTALLY DIFFERENT RULES, a sports photographer does not need to know how to handle people, just to predict what they are going to do, and pre-empt it.
Should a wedding photographer be asked to capture a group on a beautiful staircase, it then becomes an architectural shot where totally different rules apply. If you've never learned to photograph a structure, your results will be poor.
The thing is, if you don't specialise, yet get to know the rules for each genre, and over time, you hone those skills and ultimately become a much, repeat, MUCH BETTER photographer.
Plus, I know for me, a blue blooded creative, if I were to stick to the same genre, I'd be a quivering wreck by the week's end. Bored, bored, bored.
(3) Safety - What happens when a market crashes? Say, oh I don't know, when a global pandemic wipes out the hospitality industry? Wedding and event photographers crashed and burned during 2020-21. Others, like us at Solid Imagery, redirected our skillset elsewhere. Want a photography training course? Family portrait (completely Covid safe)? It's so easy to reinvent when you have already part-invented yourself over the years.
Now there are those clients who only employ dedicated photographers specifically for those types of jobs, and great, for someone who has the financial security to build their genre specific business over time, perfect, but for the rest of us needing to pay the bills week-in, week-out, we have to earn from the get go.
So, yes, multi-disciplined, general photographers just makes total sense all around. And if you don't take my advice, we at Solid might, just might be there to scoop up what a potential client throws you, but which you refuse to catch.
Our company is made up of three main brands:
Solid Imagery - General, multi-disciplined professional photography
SolidHD - Heritage Digitisation serving the museums sector
Solid Schools - Dedicated, high volume, corporate grade school portraits.
Keywords: Dorset, event, headshots, Jon Ball, photographer, photographers, photography, photos, portraits, professional, Solid Imagery, wedding
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