EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Right Moves: To Specialize Or Not

Myrna Kresh



Myrna Kresh, has 30 years of experience working with emerging and established photographers. Formerly the Executive Director of the Advertising Photographers of New York, Myrna energized and expanded APNY’s Assistant and Emerging Photographer Programs and has a profound understanding of what it really takes to make it as a pro. Myrna is an industry insider, producing and representing visual artists, in their commercial and personal projects.

Dear Right Moves,

I can’t decide if it’s best to be a generalist and photograph all things, in all mediums, in all formats, from fashion to sports, or should I SPECIALIZE?  What’s the best business decision?  I’m just starting out and everything is open to me.  HELP me decide.

At A Fork In The Road, Rochester, New York

Dear Fork in the Road,

Your question is should you generalize or specialize?  My quick career answer is that you should specialize, with the caveat that you have the ABILITY and training to generalize if need be.

A general truth about the business of photography is that most photographers are hired for their approach to a SPECIALTY and sometimes it’s a SUB-specialty of that specialty.

Let’s say a pharmaceutical company needs a photographer for a campaign on a new migraine medicine. They’ll look for a people, portrait, lifestyle photographer.  Is it a man or woman they’ll be photographing? If it’s a lifestyle image, an image with more than one person, do they need a candid treatment or a more formal one? Each layer of the art buyer’s requirements eliminates another group of photographers and brings her/him to the 3 candidates  who will be asked to bid on the job.

The three bids and portfolios are presented to their client and sometimes everyone is surprised and “a different direction” is chosen.
First and foremost, photograph what your heart demands. Photography is a challenging way to make a living, but it can be a delirious way to make a living  if you’re making images that excite you.

To submit your advice questions to Right Moves, send an email to myrna@myrnak.com.

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