what kind of photographer are you?


I haven’t had much of a chance to do these Saturday morning musings lately, and I still don’t, but I want to get back to some sort of schedule again, as scattered as my musings may be right now.

It may be a peculiarity of mine, I don’t know, but I don’t care to classify myself as any particular type of photographer. I don’t like to limit myself as far as subject matter goes. My only concern is making a solid photograph of something that catches my eye.

I love nature and landscapes, but I’m not strictly a nature/landscape photographer.  I love abstracts, and funky signs, and cool buildings and all that too,  but I don’t strictly photograph those subjects either.  I’m not a specialist. I just do what I do in my own peculiar way. That’s the kind of photographer I’m becoming.

I started out years ago as a nature photographer, and though I still love photographing the natural world, my vision has been changing over the years. I find myself photographing subject matter that never used to even catch my eye. Now that I’m right in the thick of LA I’m finding less ‘nature’ around me, though there are some pockets of it, but a lot of other subject matter. Almost more than I can grasp.

I was walking by a church down the street recently and spotted these hand prints in a doorway. Of course I stopped to shoot them (sorry Greg). Not that it’s any earth-shaking photo or anything, but there was a time, and not all that long ago, that I probably wouldn’t have even noticed them. Now I do, and I take that as a good sign. Maybe after all these years I’m finally learning to see.

It’s just my own feeling of course, but the longer I live the less I’m inclined to specialization as a photographer. I can see where if you are a working pro and are trying to build a name in a certain field, specializing may be necessary. But if you’re doing it mainly for yourself, if you’re working as an artist and expressing your own vision, specializing might just be an unnecessary limitation. What do you think?


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27 thoughts on “what kind of photographer are you?”

  1. I’m pretty much in the same boat as you. I like making pictures of everything and do the best that I can do. My camera is with me almost all of the time and I can be doing landscapes in the morning and a pet portrait with lights in the afternoon. It’s all still fun to me after all these years.

    1. I appreciate your thoughts Jeff.

      I stopped photographing altogether for several years because I felt like I was getting stale and doing the same old things over and over. Once I started again I decided not to limit myself. I find it far more interesting and rewarding that way.

  2. I’d say I’m probably more of a specialist than you are, but following your blog has helped to peel reptilian scales from my eyes–so to speak–and start to find my creative voice in other landscapes than the ones I’m used to.

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say its a limitation to not look beyond your “specialty”, but I know, for me, its been a very good experience to branch out.

    Regarding the photo, I really like it. It seems that this form of expressing oneself (handprints) never really goes out of style; these handprints are about 900 years old, in southern Utah:



  3. Thanks Greg. I think branching out and trying different subject matter is good. I’m finding it to be very fulfilling and rewarding. Besides, I can practice my own visual weirdness anywhere I happen to be.

    Thanks too for the link. Love that photo. Handprints do seem to be timeless.

      1. Hey, thanks for the link Greg. I bookmarked it for further pondering.

        That’s quite a thought — being someone who attracts photographs, or songs, or whatever. Actually I think we all are if we just open ourselves up to it.

  4. I’d say you just shot yourself in the foot… ;-). Somethings just never change, Homo Sapiens need to leave his mark wherever he goes. It’s a modern day pictograph and an outstanding image. Well done. I look forward to more from the “Asphalt Jungle”.

    Best Regards,

    1. Heh — I’m not really sure what you mean, but thanks. I think.

      Glad you like the photo. We’ll see what else comes from this jungle. Or anthill. Or whatever it is…

      1. It was a reference to “shoot” and your apology. It seemed funnier when I first wrote it….but then I was dog tired from the late drive home the night before.


      2. Yeah, I kind of figured as much but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t resist that one.

        Thanks for clarifying Greg.

  5. It seems to me that if you are a specialist, moving outside that speciality occasionally is bound to make the eye even keener. Furthermore, I believe that sometimes what we think are distractions, actually turn out to be a way of honing in on vision. You are sharing what you see, in the way you see it. I can’t help but believe that that becomes your specialty. I certainly am enjoying “your” Los Angeles. It is interesting to meet once again the city I left.

    1. “You are sharing what you see, in the way you see it. I can’t help but believe that that becomes your specialty.”

      Thanks Anita. That’s an interesting take. I never thought of it that way. I guess that would hold true for anyone who is honestly working in their own way rather than imitating or following the latest trends. Good food for thought.

  6. Hmmmm… am I even a photographer at all?! There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider it; just that I had some cool equipment.

    I take pictures of things I like. Landscapes, light, my dogs, guns, bike races, shooting competitions, a pretty girl (if she’ll let me…) – who knows!

    I think it’s all about seeing, and whatever you see that catches your eye and that could be anything when it comes to my ADHD. ;)

    Give that spot another 100 years or so and that stuff won’t be just kids’ art. :)

    1. Thanks for your take Derrick.

      I do pretty much the same these days. If something catches my eye and triggers the urge to photograph it, I photograph it and do my best to do it well. Sometimes it works.

      I’ll have to check on that doorway in a hundred years or so to see how it looks then…

  7. That’s pretty funny, Derrick. Truly, the list of letters would probably be much longer than that for both categories, photography and religion. Are we supposed to talk about religion? Maybe I ought to try that card. It most probably would cause the viewer to become curious. I can just see people trying to figure out what the letters mean. Probably some art sophisticates would say, “Oh yeah, I’m familiar with that, I’ve seen that before, sure,” and nod their heads knowingly.

    1. I can just see some sophisticated fool nodding his head, unwilling to admit his ignorance. That would be funny as hell…

  8. I stick with nature photography on the business side of things and mostly on the personal side, but I do have interests in architecture and concert photography. Both of those I rarely get to engage in. I have had a curiosity about Urbex for years. I used to dream about knowing some famous band and would be their dedicated photographer. :-)

    Professionally, I see some photographers who run the entire gamut of subjects on their websites, and for me it is really hard to get a sense of what they are trying to present. So from that aspect I think it is best to narrow your subjects. If you are a wedding photographer, then be a wedding photographer and keep the other stuff on a separate site. Don’t throw weddings, pets, buildings, lighthouses, sunsets, birds all in the mix. Just my own thoughts on that, and of course that is only for someone presenting themselves as a professional, not just for a creative outlet.

    I think it is good to explore outside our own set boundaries at times. It helps keep the creative spirit fresh.

    1. Thanks for your take Mark. I pretty much agree with what you’re saying.

      If I was to decide to go ‘pro’, I’d probably pick a specialty and concentrate on building a name in it. For now though I’m content to try out and experiment with a lot of different things.

      Lately I’ve been thinking that the generalist approach can make a blog look and feel scattered and unfocused — this one is beginning to feel that way to me. I’ll probably be doing a post on that thought soon.

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