18 Jan Conjuring the mindset of a start-up photographer

Source: Olafs Photoblog

There are two pieces of wisdom shared among photographers: (1) you need to specialize, and (2) you need to find your own style.

It makes sense. There are certain segments of the photographic market when this approach is necessary. For example, wedding or commercial photography requires a specific branding strategy without which it would be difficult to attract a new clientele. However, let’s leave aside such cases.

A similar “you must specialize or die” logic is pushed at aspiring photographers who, with their fresh eyes, can bring in new visual ideas. These newcomers often don’t know what they really like: landscape, street, travel, portraiture, etc. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on visual exploration, which encompasses all genres and types of photography, they often rush into one area much too early. What’s even worse, they may stay there for the rest of their photographic lives.

Recently, during one of my workshops, I led a group of photographers from all skill and age levels. We focused on a small, quiet plaza with few elements. I said that we were going to spend hour or two at this location. It came as a surprise to most participants because there was not much there in a traditional street-photography sense. Then, we started to explore the visuals around us. After a few minutes, participants started to create imagery which could not easily be tagged as street, travel, macro or portrait. In other words, as soon as my students stopped defining what street photography should be, their

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