Diversity vs Speaciality

I read once somewhere here in the DT blogs that a good photographer should be able to take a photograph of anything and make it look great. That said this brings me to the point of this blog - its more of a quiz to which I hope to find some answers through responses though :0)

Although I agree with the statement above, I am not completely convinced I believe it. For me as a wildlife/landscape photographer by heart, I find it extremely difficult to visualize yet alone set up still life photo shoots, or even harder to take pictures of models etc (maybe a studio would make this different), and basically would struggle with the creative side of this style of photography. With my natural tendencies towards Wildlife, Nature and Landscapes, the hard work is done for me I guess, the models are already out there, nature presents itself without being set up, it just takes the right eye to see it, and landscapes are in abundance.

This does not mean that everyone can be a good wildlife or landscape photographer (not saying I am one), there are still numerous factors to consider in order to produce good results (lighting, composition, eye for detail etc...) and to succeed in this style one would really have to be quite specialised in order to sell images on a regular basis and actually thrive one this speciality - trust me there are some wildlife/landscape photographers in DT that do thrive.

However, I am pretty sure in order to survive (before I thrive) in the stock game, I need to diversify my portfolio and become flexible when it comes to making choices about what exactly to take. What bothers me is the types of images I am going to present in the beginning in order to try and diversify. Would they be of an acceptable level to compete with whats out there, or would they merely be mediocre attempts to fill what my brain tells me would be a wiser way to approach selling stock images?

In short, the question is whether to stick to a field of photography where your images may be more specialized but probably also more likely of a level/standard where you could compete against this market, as opposed to delving into a more diverse segment, where you may be out of your depth and produce numerous images that will, if accepted, probably never be able to compete against whats already out there? Your comments on this would be appreciated, diversify or die, specialize and be competetive?

Photo credits: Fultonsphoto.

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January 05, 2010


first, thanks for coming to my blog again to add your comments . Best wishes to you too for 2010. ...now to answer your thread:

i think it all depends on why you want to make photographs. no one can tell you what to do, really.. that is a question we all must search for answer within ourselves.
i do photography for longevity; something i did a long time, before i even shot a single "stock photograph". i will continue to shoot like that way after i get tired of being a "stock photographer". I don't , as a practise, tailor make my photography strictly for stock.
My work experience in photography spans a large spectrum, ie. fashion, glamour, runway, shows for designers on spec, photocorrespondence, industrial,travel,etc.. even the nutty self portrait when i make a literal fool of myself. i enjoy that.
everything i do is spontaneous, except for paid jobs with my clients who hire me for a specific need or concept.

at the beginning, i was tempted to shoot to be successful in micro stock,
but i found out that would never work for me. reason? if you shoot for a specific agenda and that agenda fails, you're a failure. but if you shoot because it moves you inside your creative being, then submit your work for stock, gallery, contest,etc.. whatever... even if you did not sell a single copy, you are already a winner. the shot served its prime purpose, ie. it moved your inner creative muse.
i think the latter idea is a more effective one to believe, at least for me. ..
as this way, i will always have a reason to look at my photographs and be proud i created it. the other way, i am sure to burn out one day and throw in the towel .

so, i made my choice. i chose to just shoot what moves me, and hope the honesty will move the buyer to use my image.

it's not carved in stone what is better. i just chose the one i prefer. ie. to be able to wake up each morning, and feel great , the moment i pick up the camera. each shoot for me is like a perfect morning with fresh air and perfect lighting from the sun. in studio or on location.
as a great tennis champion once said, "i play and practise tennis, the rest.. success , money, fame, .. well, they can take care of themselves. as for me,
i play tennis." i think that's just it, I SHOOT FIRST FOR ME, and the rest is up to thee... if you like it, buy ... if not, bye !

i hope that answers your question. HAPPY 2010

November 24, 2009


Hi,my friend
I especially like the third images,lion portrait!

September 19, 2009


I'm not a professional photographer, but nature is also my favorite subject and I also feel that I my portfolio is not that good at diversity (stockwise). So, my 2 cents: You can also approach nature from many perspectives, so theres a lot to diversify still on the same field. You can even take nature into the studio!
Another 2 cents: You loose nothing by trying this and that other photo subject, you can only learn. More, you can even find new ways of looking into your "nature" by doing so. Why don't you just try when you have the chance to do so? Maybe a friend or someone else when in a safari trip presents itself as a good oportunity. Don't have a model release? photograph anyway. Improve those family shots for more than memories. Make weird/unusual requests to that people you photograph, they know you photograph so they most probably won't find it to weird.
When to start selling? Well, I think you already have an eye to the quality level required, and the quality you wan't. When you get there, you'll know.

September 18, 2009


Hi Peter, thanks for the comments. I agree, there is beauty even in the strangest of places, but its whether or not you can draw inspiration from these things to produce good images that worries me. The more I read my own blog and the responses from everyone the more I am getting to know the answers (which is what I aimed for) and that is that if I dont even give other aspects a try, how can I say I am no good at them let alone be able to make some money or success out of these types of images :0)

September 18, 2009


Hi . I also love shooting wild life and scenery and what ever nature has to offer. I am finding as I look around there is so much beauty in the world whether you photograph nature ,man made things,architecture,and people.The more you look the more beauty you will see. What is most important that you enjoy what you are doing. What you are doing you do very well. Peter.

September 17, 2009


Hi Orion9nl, thanks for adding me to your favorits list :0) I will as I said before to Adrian still continue to take and upload my favorite types or style of image, and in the process hopefully become known for this speciality, however as I also said, diversity seems to be the key, but within aspects of photography that one is still comfortable with.

September 17, 2009


Hi Adrian, thanks for the comments, I will continue to take of subject I enjoy and upload them and hopefully one day these will be of a standard to compete against some of the better known wildlife photographers on DT. However I must agree this may not be enough to carry me or make me any form of decent money so I guess the answer is diversify.

September 17, 2009


Hi Warren, I prefer speciality above diversity, cause I personally look for pictures which are special, unique cause I am more interested in landscape and nature stuff (as shows my own small portfolio). However, more can be earned I guess in stock photography related to models or objects (stand-alone). At least that is what I see when I look around on DT. (just look at nr 1 stock photographer here on DT; most of his pictures are ...model related.

So if you want to make a living out of it....then diversity would be the best for you, but also huge amounts of uploads will work definitely.

I stick to my own speciality (if I have any, LOL) cause I do not have the equipment nor attributes to go into stock oriented photography. And I just do it for fun.


(ps I added you to my favorite photographers list - the first one - cause you have actually the first portfolio I encounter which is specialized in nature, landscape etc. only)

September 17, 2009


HI Warren, to be a specialist on wildlife, here on DT, it's not a bad thing, off course you need also to provide some diversity in your portfolio, but my opinion is simple: If you upload more, you will sell more.
I'm saying this because, although, we have started on DT, in the same period (September 2008), I did not reach the 100 $ sales in one year, because I have only 36 pictures online. I’m not complain about that, all I want to say it’s that you are a successful photographer here, and if you shot what you enjoy the most, then you will be more appreciated by others, because you shot pictures with your heart not with your mind.
All the best,

September 17, 2009


Hi Desi, thanks as always you are too kind :0)

September 17, 2009


I'll be shorter than others and say: Shoot what you like! All your photos are nice! And the sunset is still my fav one!

September 17, 2009


Hi Altaf, I have only used "non posed" images of my son to date for submissions as I feel these are more natural (my son does not like photos being taken lol) and probably easier from a not having to be over creative perspective. Although as you mention, some of the themes you are looking for could actually turn out being quite fun to photograph which would make him more willing to pose, for example, If I gave him carte blanch to throw around books as opposed to stopping him doing this he would have an absolute whale of a time. Guess it could be said that creative need not necessarily be boring :0)

September 17, 2009


Hi Carolyne, thanks and this is more along the lines I was thinking, would it be better to take of things one enjoys because the results may be better rather than try take of just about anything with less desirable results. I guess in a way you have a point, there are enough themes even within my scope to that I would enjoy taking photos of that are diverse enough than just wildlife images :0)

September 17, 2009


Hi Warren, Well simple suggestion, already your son is your model, now use him as model, set some theme, look as a art director of a publishing house, we have a magazine for parents, so we download lots of images of kids in action, so set out theme, day 1 child playing with different things, day two a child from sunrise to set, all his activities, when you have one model doing all kind of things it mostly suits a magazine article. And dont worry about competition, what you can do others cannot and vice versa. Every photographer is unique so just go enjoy your landscape, and wildlife, at the same time write down many themes, and use your child it will surely work. I was searching for a white boy throwing books and currency, we dint find so there are many ways. Also get your sons friends to make different theme.

September 16, 2009


I think you should take photos of things you enjoy. Your models are family and you enjoy spending time with them so it's only natural that you will feel comfortable taking photos of them. You love wildlife and landscapes and obviously enjoy photographing them. The same could apply to still life and industrial or architectural shots. Take photos of places and things that interest you and that interest or passion for that subject will shine through. Don't think too hard about I should go here or photograph that if it's not something you are interested in, you probably won't get the results you are after. If you sit and think for a while you may find that you are interested in more than you think. You may be an excellent cook so food shots could be a possibility without focusing on what still life/objects should I photograph. Have you a favorite sports team that you could photograph when you go to their games? I think diversifying a portfolio with subjects you enjoy wouldn't be too hard. Relax, go places you enjoy, see people and things you love and new inspiration and a diverse portfolio should be one of the results. The upside is your family will have heaps of memories of places they've been and things they've done with you. Anything you love will not turn out mediocre. Just my opinion anyway. Hope it helps :0)

September 16, 2009


Great response Jaquelineb, guess it is just a mindset limitation, after all I have 2 non wildlife images in the current assignments section so I cant be that bad at other aspects of photography. I need to utilize my time around the house more productively and actually try before I give in I guess.

September 16, 2009


Here are some of the tips in a being a good photographer without using any cash advance. Spend your energy and time to get out and experiment rather than obsessing about cameras.
Do not let “professionals” with expensive equipment intimidate you. You have options they never have. You can leave your tripod at home and go exploring in places they cannot go, simply because they have deadlines and expectations to fulfill. It’s never as much fun doing something for a job as it is to experiment as an enthusiast.
I loosely define home as the radius around your house or apartment that you can reach within a few hours of driving, hiking or biking - in case you were wondering what to photograph in your backyard. Everyone can be an expert about a location. Eventually this will result in better photographs.
Do not let the expert in you hold you back! See the world through the eyes of a child again. A child that is willing to explore all options and try all things! Throw out your preconceptions and start every shoot with a fresh mindset!
Enhancing composition by simplification is another tool at our disposal (and subject of a later essay), but deliberately leaving out elements or cutting highlights to hide elements of our image is a new concept for me as well. It will require some trial and error and maybe some chance results for us to become the true photo ninja’s we strive to be. It never hurts to explore and to keep an open mind to something new.

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