I think specializing is holding you back

Apr 03 2018
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I’ve heard it a lot in the photography world from professionals all over the place. Specialise. Find the one style/type of photography you like most and own it completely. I think this is wrong, not for an established professional with 10+ years in the game. If you are at this stage and you can earn a great living and be happy shooting nothing but your specialty, then by all means specialise. But if you’re anyone but the 10+ year vet, then I think specializing is the wrong way to go.

I think if you get caught up in only shooting that style, you won’t be as good in that style as you could be if you diversified.

I am by no means a professional who is earning a great living through photography. I have a small business that runs on the side of a full-time job, for me, photography is a passion, an artistic outlet and at times, stress relief. I have studied photography and have been shooting since my early twenties, over 12 years now.

During my 12+ years of shooting I’ve shot landscapes, weddings, real estate, architecture, fitness modelling, lifestyle, product, travel and street photography to name a few. Out of these I would have to say that landscape if probably my favourite. There’s just something about being away in nature that is energizing. But I haven’t always been so into landscape shooting. I started off with landscapes and streets style shooting. Probably because it was the easiest, you can just grab your camera and go for a walk and shoot both of those styles. Then I progressed into weddings and real estate style shooting. Since then I’ve been in and out of landscape stuff whilst substituting some travel, street, product, modelling work.

But I can tell you whenever I head off into a phase of travel or street or modelling work then come back to landscape, my landscape work improves.

The first reason is variety – I think when you have a break from something you truly enjoy and then come back to it you come back excited to be doing it again. No different to when you spend some time away from a loved one. You get so excited at being back with them. For me, landscape is a loved one. When I am away from it, I miss it.

Secondly, learning key points of different styles. What makes a great travel photo doesn’t necessarily make a great wedding photo or lands
cape photo. This is the main reason I think you should not specialise. There will always be the core foundations that apply to any style of photography. You know the ones you first study or read about in a photography book. Composition, the rule of thirds, the golden ration, leading lines etc. Although some facets of photography place more emphasis on these.

Let’s look at weddings. Wedding are all about capturing the emotion of the day and telling the story of the couple. Lighting and composition become extremely important. The lessons in lighting and composition have changed the way I shoot landscape work. You can capture mood and tell a story in landscape photography. The best landscape shooter in the world trigger emotion in their viewers.

I guarantee you that if you spend some time doing street photography, capturing candid, natural moments, that your wedding and event photography will improve.

If you spend some time doing product photography your lighting skills will improve which will help in any kind of photography. Lighting is always so important.

If you shoot landscape work your composition skills will improve, once again this helps with any kind of photography.

It isn’t just limited to the actual capturing of the images, I’ve found the way I edit landscape photos differs to the way I edit wedding images, or street shots, or travel images. They all have their different style of editing. Shooting different styles has forced me to learn and try different things with my editing. Which, once again has helped. I’ve learnt new ways of doing things with one style that I have been able to apply to another style.

These are just a few examples that I have experienced through my time that have helped me create better images.


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