Do You Specialise?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dave Young, May 1, 2014.

  1. Dave Young

    Dave Young Active Member

    As a hobbyist, I tend to shoot randomly everything and anything, but I feel this kind of holds me back from really learning sometimes.

    I'm wondering how many RPF guys (and gals) specialise in what you shoot and how you got to where you are. Was it a conscious decision to specialise or did you kind of fall into it?

    I'm really thinking I'd like to specialise more in portraiture work, more so with natural light as I have no access to studio facilities. I'm trying to find a suitable course at present, to try to learn more, but am interested to know more about how people got into any particular discipline.

    Ta muchly :)
  2. Davie Hudson

    Davie Hudson Well-Known Member

    Hmmm I spose this is obvious but yes I do, i specialise in Landscapes and in particular Scottish Landscapes. It all started for me when i had a day off about 5-6 years ago and I had decided to spend the day with my then new camera and a drive up the A9 towards Inverness. I pulled over in a layby for a coffee and looked to my left, That was layBy 76 and the view changed my life, from that day on i've pretty much done nothing but outdoor/landscape photography and I love it, it excites me greatly and gets me out and about.... a lot :)

    After saying all that I have an idea for a shoot that i have had for a long time, however it requires a certain model and she's reluctant at the mo
    Dave Young likes this.
  3. Ivar D. Larsen

    Ivar D. Larsen Well-Known Member

    Hi Dave. I have been photographing since 1968 -69. At first it was people for me as you now would venture into and I can truly say that people portraits, people in the streets and in their environments have been and still are my first and foremost interest. But as time goes by one tends to try other genres too. I personally do not think that one has to specialise to be good. I think that just the love for photography, knowing your equipment inside out, being curious and getting lost in just what you are doing at the time you are doing it, shall make you good. It's all about practise, practise and practise. Take a lot of pictures and look at a lot of pictures and you'll be as good as you want. Remember photography is a subjective practise. Some would like your pictures and some may not. The important thing is, that you like them and feel they are good. Join a photography club near you or give them a visit, there could be things to learn there too, as well as here I guess. Good luck to you.
  4. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    I'd like to specialise and often wish I could be more, ahem, focussed. I'd like to specialise in tulips - that might surprise some of you here - but there is something about them that just speaks to me. But I'm not that focussed, and usually indulge in a scattergun approach. I do sometimes restrict myself to a particular series of related shots, or choose to do only black and white. But I can't see myself yet just doing one thing.

    On the other hand, I could argue, if I were pretentious enough, that I specialise in light...that covers everything!
  5. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    I don't specialize in any kind of subject or genre. I recognise that I have recurring kinds of images, but that is because of convenience. In other words, I shoot what's in the vicinity of me.

    However, I shoot film most of the time. I think I may actually shoot more film than anyone else on RPF. Could be wrong. Anyway, could that be considered a specialty?
  6. Ivar D. Larsen

    Ivar D. Larsen Well-Known Member

    Hardly a speciality Brian, but maybe stubborness:D. I said maybe!
    Brian Moore likes this.
  7. Glenn Clabo

    Glenn Clabo Well-Known Member

    My life experience is reflected in what I end up shooting. Specialization requires concentration...right? My wife says I should be the poster boy for ADHD. I have the attention span of a Gnat. Although it was an asset in my professional life because of the fast pace of my has also been a frustration...mostly for those around me. ;)
  8. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    I have concluded that Norwegians are not only crazy people, but also cheeky buggers from time-to-time!:D
    Nick Lukey and Julian de'Courcy like this.
  9. Tom Dunne

    Tom Dunne Well-Known Member

    No I don't specialise. I shoot anything that I think can hopefully make a good photograph. I often think about it; the nearest I will probably get to specialising is when I might create a project for myself.
  10. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Apart from imaging for work, I do not exactly specialise on any one technique. However, I do have subjects and projects I return to again and again and themes that fascinate me. Attempting to create images that present these themes often requires learning and adapting techniques and methods. Maybe concentrating on a specific project might help rather than a technique or type of photography. What do you think?
    Tom Dunne likes this.
  11. Tom Dunne

    Tom Dunne Well-Known Member

    I don't think I could concentrate for too long on a project. I would become uneasy and thinking ahead to new possibilities. Often I invent an image in my mind, or visualise something, maybe just something mundane in the house, and then try and create. Sort of like creating a mental drawing of an image in advance. I get impatient with my photography all the time knowing that there must be something somewhere that hasn't been covered before.
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Active Member

    I specialise and have done for nearly 30 years, some projects are that old, (only really 2 though), others have been 18 months to 2 years, another 5 years, but I still revisit it.The two main current projects are both 7-10 years - this is more because they involve travel and I only get a chance to work on them sporadically.

  13. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    While I will not exclude anything that may catch my eye, I would say photographing people while hiding in plain sight is primary. My goal is to capture interactions—and life in general without intruding upon it—or changing it. I have been chronicling events in a family, and members of an organization for over a decade in each case. Almost 100% available light, with a high percentage of shots indoors. Now that I have the Fujifilm X100 which will sync to 1/2000th, I will occasionally use fill, but never flash as a primary source. My photographs of the family is at

    Since the members of the organization are now all on Facebook, I use that as the primary medium for sharing. However, I do have a gallery that I shot when I first took delivery of my X-Pro1 and the initial three primes. It pretty much shows my approach to the group.

    I apply the same techniques to street photography photographing strangers. The was shot on Canada Day last year. I was fascinated by the diversity—specially those who were obviously new Canadians. Again, natural light and no posing whatever.
  14. Tom Dinning

    Tom Dinning Active Member

    I'm still shuffling through the back of the fridge. So far I've found the obligatory limp carrot, a piece of moulds cheese, and this.

    Two old ducks talking over the fence.
    "What's your son up to these days?"
    "He's a naval doctor"
    "Oh, he specializes then"

    Specialization is knowing more about less. Extrapolating this, a specialist will eventually know everything about nothing at all, which is where it all started.

    The art of photography might be considered a specialty. Or just using a camera may be specialty enough. Those who use film exclusively (or mostly) are specialists. I've been a specialist since 1974 in a manner of speaking when I bought my first Nikon camera. Up until this year I've never owned anything else with which to take photos.
    Otherwise, when I browse my own files I find little commonality in the subject matter but an ongoing theme which is always paramount in my mind: the idea. This includes the very idea of being able to do this magical thing in the first place. Next comes the idea behind why I have lifted my camera to my face. What's in it for me? What might interest others? What can I teach others and what can I learn myself?
    Having been a teacher for over 50 years I realise in my retirement that most of my photos have something in them I can use in a classroom. How sad is that?
    Now I ask myself.
    What would I shoot if it were just for me?
    I'm a bit lost really. It might be that I'm happy to take the shot and let it talk back to me.
    I think I specialize in living long enough to take the next shot. I know it will be my best yet.
  15. Dan Cattermole

    Dan Cattermole Dan Down - The Steampunk Womble

    I like anything with a mask on, darkness, or manipulated light.... As most of the veterans here know very well... An experimentalist (or mental) I like to call myself. Anything dark, creepy, and abnormal throws me right in my comfort zone.... But then I have three lovely children... And they are a joy to photograph which gives me the ability to place myself well as a portrait photographer.
    But when the darkness falls, another character and style is most certainly engaged.
    Beth Anthony likes this.

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