I find myself constantly wanting to try new techniques and purchase gear that allows me to try something that I haven’t done before. I think we can all agree the technology of photography is growing and expanding rapidly. The dark room is slowly becoming a thing of the past as computers take over post-processing. When I was a student at The Ohio State University almost all of the classes used a darkroom. The program is more geared towards fine art photography but I’m not sure why you should be forced to use a darkroom. Maybe it’s an example of the chasm between traditional and modern viewpoints of photography. I’m sure there are valid points countering some of the comments I make but this is only my opinion and I’m always happy to learn from others through open discussions.
I think you’ll hear lots of established photographers give advice to newcomers about finding your niche and owning it. Based on evidence its a very sound business strategy and it’s what I would tell anyone who asks me for advice. When someone wants to hire a photographer to create a certain type of image they need, they want one who has the expertise and experience creating successful images of said type. I think there is a fear that a “jack of all trades” photographer won’t have the same amount of skill as someone who shoots only one type of image.
The problem I’ve run into is balancing time working on increasing my ability to shoot images in the niche I’d like myself to be placed and experimenting with the wide array of techniques possible in photography. I love photography, all types of it. I can’t help it. I want to experiment with tilt-shift lenses, HDR, infrared, wildlife etc., all the while growing my craft in the direction I want clients to know me as. I think there needs to be a separation of work and play.
I’m sure there are people that don’t have this problem because they love to shoot just one type of image. I also think there others out there like me that want to try everything. I can see people asking, “If you were to learn a new technique, wouldn’t that help improve your images in your niche because you now have a larger variety for your client to chose from?” At the same time a client could be coming to you because you already have mastered the technique of the image they’re looking for. So what do you do? I don’t think there is a right answer. I think its all up to the photographer.
Feel free to let me know what you think.