In the beginning of your journey to become a high end digital photographer, you are learning and trying everything. That is the way it should be. However, down the road, you need to think about who you want to be in the photo world…what is your niche…what will your “brand” be…what are you known for? Examples…wedding photographer, event photographer, portraits, school portraits, corporate head shots, bird photographer, exotic animals, surf photographer, underwater, action photography or sports photographer, landscapes, night photography, astro photography…pardon the pun, but the sky is the limit. You can be anything you want to be. I submit you can be good at all of these…but probably great at only one. That may not be exactly true…maybe you really are great at more than one…but the more you spread out your publicity or the awareness of your talents over more than one discipline…the harder it is to build a world class reputation.
Peter Lik is one of the worlds most successful photographers. He is basically a landscape photographer. I would guess that, if his brother asked him to photograph his wedding…and he agreed to do so…he would do an outstanding job. However, if he then tried to show the world what a great job he did, he would confuse his “brand”…people would start to wonder if he is starting to abandon his landscape photography business. So, people like Peter Lik stick with what they are known for…and try to become the best at it. Good advice for you as well. Learn to do everything, but show the world only your best skill set…the thing you are best at doing.
The whole topic of not confusing your brand is a difficult one. I love to shoot sporting events, get a candid shot at a wedding, take a nice portrait of someone, shoot waves, birds, night skies and underwater…along with wild life and landscapes. I do post all of the above on social media. However, if you walk into Lava Light Gallery in Waikoloa, Hawaii you will see that 90% or more of the photos on the walls are Hawaiian landscapes. We can do other shots…but what we want to be known for are Hawaiian landscapes…those are what pay our bills.
So…no need to decide right now, but be thinking about it for the future. Who are you? What will be your specialty? What will be your brand? If you one day want to be a paid professional photographer, it will become much easier to be that person if you have a reputation that is clear to one and all.
2 thoughts on “Lava Light Lessons #26…Who Are You?”
Off to Africa in 3 weeks. I have a couple of shots in Alaska that I think are decent. Could I get some input? Using the 200-500 f5.6 a lot to get used to hand holding it. Hope to get some nice landscape and animal pix in Botswana.
Planned to come back to Kingsland in January, but are just not interested in all the Covid nonsense.
Bill…CJ is traveling…this is Don Hurzeler. I did Africa two years ago…Tanzania and Kenya. Best trip of my life. I used two lenses for 99% of my shots…a 200-600 and a 70-200. I had then on two bodies, so I had back up (a little hard to get a broken camera fixed out there). You will find you need that 500 (which I never use at full range…would pull it back to about 480 to get crisp shots) and will also need the 70 range, as some of the wildlife is right at your feet. If you want feedback on specific photos you can send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback. I will either show them to CJ when he returns or give you my feedback. CJ taught me everything I know about photography, so I think much like him. Hope the covid thing gets smarter here soon…and would love to see you when it does. Aloha.