People, places, things... every photographer has their subject of choice. You may love being outside or cringe at the very thought of nature. You may know studio lighting in and out, or you wouldn't know a soft box if it hit you in the head. Photographers are as diverse as the things they photograph. We all have our likes and dislikes, our niche so to speak. It is time for a little self analysis. (If you have no sense of humor, stop now.)
What type of photographer are you? I will throw out a disclaimer that the list below is not all inclusive. Judging from my Facebook news feed there should probably be a category dedicated to selfies taken in workout clothes, but that one didn't make the cut this year. Read on with tongue in cheek to find your type!
Think of your last few gigs. Was there a birthday, graduation, school play, etc. involved? If so you may be a milestone photographer. You get the call to be there with camera in hand when important life events happen. You spontaneously break out the camera to document that first tooth lost or step taken. You specialize in portraits of a candid nature and your pictures viewed sequentially are like a highlight reel of your subject's life. You probably need to get your gear together because that bar mitzvah starts in an hour!
I am not necessarily talking James Bond type of stuff. You are more likely shooting Little League baseball, cheerleading, or high school swim meets. Your fast lens is always in use, and you have never met a quick shutter speed you didn't like. With shutter priority, continuous focus, and burst mode employed you freeze action without hesitation. You may be an action photographer.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, right? You are most comfortable behind a long lens. You stalk your subjects with the stealth of a ninja. Your subjects can be found in secluded spots and gorgeous locales, and you aspire to be featured in National Geographic. People bore you and you train your lens instead on critters of the four-legged variety. No need to be up close and personal, in fact that is dangerous, from a distance you seek the money shot.
You are a gritty, city person. You are in fact allergic to grass, trees, and all other elements of nature, but you can not pass up a street sign or cityscape. Crowds, smells, public transportation - this is your domain. The bigger the city, the better. Concrete, or even better concrete with graffiti, draw your lens. Mix a few seasoned city dwellers into that concrete jungle and that is the stuff of your photographic dreams. Bring on the grunge.
You are the one that photographs the big day. Hopefully you are not one of the many that wonders how bad it can be and takes the first step from amateur to pro by taking on a wedding. This is not for the faint of heart. You own a tripod and more than one lens. The responsibility for photographing a once in a lifetime event rests on your shoulders. No pressure, right? You can properly expose a bride in her white dress alongside her dashing groom in his black tux without blinking an eye. Quick lens change required, no problem! Midday wedding under bright sun, you've got it covered. Bridezilla emerges? You've got this. You are the wedding photographer--cool as a cucumber.
You can identify yourself easily based on the appearance of your subjects. Are they marching in as if heading off to a concentration camp? Are they color coordinated, or even better, dressed in identical outfits? Have they chosen you for their yearly documentation of growth and change? Braces, acne, muffin top, spit up…it is all there for you to work with. Choose an aperture and just say cheese! You are the family photographer.
While we are on the topic of families, I will discuss this one but it is unique enough to warrant its own category. You photograph sweet, tiny bundles of joy. You can swaddle a baby in ten seconds flat and soothe a crying infant with a glance. You are not above taking photos sans diapers and dealing with the inevitable consequences of that action. You have closets full of soft blankets, baskets, and adorable hats. You can remove baby zits with a fling of your photo editing wand. If you are highly skilled in this craft, you can create a composite photo that makes a newborn appear to be sitting up resting its chin on its hands, deep in thought. You are the baby whisperer.
This photographic niche crosses the boundaries of some I have described above. Instead of the posed family photo, your subjects are looking in any direction and may be laughing, crying, and scowling all in the same photo. You snap photos of new babies along with their parents clad in pajamas on the family bed--complete with bed head. Dad tosses baby up in the air, you get the shot. A couple steals a quiet kiss, you get the shot. Sarcasm aside, you take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Life's everyday moments are not dull. You capture people living their lives.
In biology class, you were the kid that actually learned how to use the microscope. You enjoy nature in all of its close-up, intimate, and even grotesque detail. You may be an amateur entomologist or botanist. What could be better than a fly's eye? A highly magnified fly eye of course. Armed with your macro lens and tripod, you capture the soft beauty of rose petals and the intricate swirling patterns of snail shells. Patterns, textures, and detail are where it is at for you.
Your images could be screen savers or desktop backgrounds. With a narrow aperture and great depth of field you capture the beauty of the big picture. Horizon, foreground, rule of thirds, golden hour--these are your guiding principles. The still beauty and solitary shooting environment captivate you. You are at home in the mountains or by the seashore. Throw in a beautiful sunset for an idyllic day.
People are not your forte. The strong lines of architectural structures are your subjects of choice. You control perspective like a master. Stairs, pillars, courtyards all call to you. You can spot a natural frame in a heartbeat. With your wide angle lens and a discerning eye, you fill your SD card with bridges and doorways. You are also no stranger to arches. Buildings are beautiful!
You have a yearning for the exotic and a passport full of stamps. Remote locales, indigenous people--you know these topics. You have never been stumped by a Trivial Pursuit geography question, and you have photographed it all. (If you haven't actually been there, you have Walter Mitttyesque fantasies of doing so.) You do your research and are always prepared--like a Boy Scout. An adventurer at heart? You are a travel photographer.
In all honesty, you probably are not this type of photographer. Is your life full of wafer thin models, designer clothes, and topped off with a lot of glamour? Does hair and makeup proceed you? Have you mastered studio lighting and capturing sultry looks? You are either doing some wishful thinking, or you are a fashion photographer!
This is another specific genre. You are a foodie. You unwind at night watching whatever happens to be playing on Food Network. You are just as at home with a spatula in your hand as a camera. You have mastered the "shooting from above" perspective. Your composition is perfect, and you can make any dish look appetizing. Believe it or not, you are a food photographer.
You make be wondering how this differs from wildlife photography. Pet photographers specialize specifically in domesticated animals. Cats and dogs are your bread and butter. You may simply love capturing images of your own animals. If you live in a big city, people may actually pay you to photograph their pets--perhaps wearing sweaters. You have a way with man's best friend and are no stranger to slobber. You carry a roller around with you to remove hair from your clothing. You are a pet photographer.
Did you make the list? It may be that you identify with more than one style. It is interesting to categorize yourself as a photographer. Now that you know, mix it up a little. Choose a photography type that is completely foreign to you. Give it a whirl. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone and try something new. Then return to what is comfortable--your roots as an architect, chef, or animal lover. It's good to be home!
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