Versatility vs specialty

Torie at rest

It is in a sense a continuation of the discussion (with myself) I started last week with the post on finding focus. Should a photographer be a jack of all trades, ending up being master of none? This of course are two questions, and I am not sure I am ready yet to address the second part.

I do some extent agree with those arguing that commercial or so called professional photographers should focus in one area. Make a choice – is it architecture, weddings or travel. It makes the marketing efforts more focused if nothing else. It also mean they have more experience and can consistently deliver great images in this genre. Oftentimes it means they are ending up shooting same light set-ups or point of view, knowing that it works.

Then, of course, it does not necessarily mean that the professional photographer cannot shoot nothing else, there is always a space for personal projects, expanding creativity and take a breath from same thing done over and over again. Or a second web site, if he enjoys or wants to monetize another genre.

The other or personal projects are also needed to perfect new techniques and take on new challenges. The same is achieved by photographers not earning money on their photography. There is no reason for them to focus on portraits or landscape, and never take (or share) a street shot or macro. The new subjects can be discovered, pursued, mastered and moved on to the next. I see that is what I am doing. I shot this for a little bit, and then move on to focus on something else. It depends on season, travelling frequency, etc.

Each subject comes with its own technical challenges, and add new “tools” to the “toolbox” useful in the next pursuit.
From that perspective, for a photographer being “jack of all trades” means more being well rounded, so it’s a good thing. The only bad thing is not working in projects, not putting some finish on the previous area of focus before moving to the next.

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