what kind of photographer am i?

a question that i gave up trying to figure out. i don’t know… the kind that uses a camera?

i listened to all of Them say “find your niche!” and finally just gave up, if someone locates my niche… could you let me know? it’s been 15yrs and i’ve tried them all on for size. what i came up with is that i like people. it’s funny because in school, i hated shooting faces. i loved architecture. i loved angles of walls, stairs, the way the light poured through the windows. this image by andre kertesz is still hanging on the wall of my darkroom.

by Andre Kertesz

by Andre Kertesz

 

even now, looking at it, i’m in love and just want to roam thru silent spaces void of people… collecting light. i had a show in nashville of my work from this time period. all film images and printed by me on 16 x 20 fibre. those were the days. i may have to dig up those negatives and post them… but that’s for another time. here is my favorite:

photo by me (1999) on 16×20 fibre print

 

my phase of wanting to only shoot still life and architecture quickly moved to street photography when i went to paris for the first time. it was the first time i pointed my lens at a person with intent, with the need to capture more than the moment… but the entire scene. i needed to gather it all into the tiny box i wore around my neck… because what if i never get to go back?!

looking at those images, that was exactly the time when the desire to record emotion was realized. i guess that’s it for every street photographer… to gather people’s emotions or the mood of a night… all into our little boxes… there is something slightly creepy about the whole of photographers…voyeuristically collecting stolen moments of people lives. tho, this being my second post and all i should probably not go so dark.

after that trip and that realization i went to work at a film lab in nashville. no, it was not like a walgreens. our lab handled photographer’s images from around the world. i mean, often i got to talk to a pultizer prize winning photographer (more on him later) and i believe, before my time there, they actually handled a few ansel adams negatives. point being, i soaked in every bit of knowledge i could. i said yes to every assistant gig that came my way… weddings, architecture, portraits… you name it and i was there (usually in heels)  schlepping equipment around not shooting… just holding ‘this’… running to get ‘that’… or helping to make a subject feel at ease in front of the camera.

here and there i begged people to let me photograph them… their weddings, their families, their portraits. anything, just to use my camera. all in film. from then on i’ve said “yes” to whatever came my way. somewhere along the line, they started paying me. it still feels crazy that i get paid to do the thing that is like breathing for me.

once dslrs became the thing… photography took a bit of a turn and i learned to be computer savvy… to edit… and i became so much better with studio lighting. so did everyone else i guess. maybe it’s naive but think there is plenty of work to go around. i think i was always meant to record. to witness. to push a button. when no one hires me anymore, i guess i’ll find something else to do.

so, what kind of photographer am i?

i’m the kind that knows no other way of seeing. it frankly doesn’t matter what’s in my view finder. i’m simply happy. i would say, if you are searching for that ONE THING you do that stands out among the ZILLION other photographers… maybe ask yourself… why is it you need to stand out? what are you trying to prove and to whom?

 

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14 thoughts on “what kind of photographer am i?

  1. This is intersesting. Do you think it’s similar to looking for your own style?

    Though I’m certain there IS such a thing as a photographer’s style. Even in IG I can see a photo is yours before I see your name, and a few other photogs are like that. Jon Madison. Jeremy Cowart. Henry Lohmeyer. Jan Scholz/micmojo. Holly Burnham. Stephanie Berbec. Some well known, others not. But all with a very similar vision and aesthetic.

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  2. i guess when i think of ‘finding your niche’ i think of it in a sort of capitalistic way. carving out your little piece of the pie. what can I offer that no one else can. one of my college professors told us that there was nothing new to be done in the world of art. i believe that, so i’m not trying to reinvent the wheel or photography. i’d like to keep doing what i’m doing.

    i am floored that you’d put my in that mix, thanks!
    my style: i guess i have one. i don’t know… don’t you think everyone seems to fit into a hand full of categories tho? so in so’s work looks like so in so’s and his work really looks like this guy’s. are we trying to make a name for ourselves? or is it a question of creative release?

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    1. I understand what you’re saying about niches in the photo economy – folks want to be known as a wedding photographer, or street photographer, or one flash portraitist. I was thinking of this alongside style this way – it’s not so much created as discovered. Like, I think of myself as a music photographer mainly, but I look at my streams and there’s a lot of landscape in there. And what I fave on IG is largely moody landscapes and unique portraits, very little music (partly because it’s really hard to shoot live shots that stand out; everybody’s working with the same light and subject and you’re down to timing and composition).

      I get what you’re saying about people’s work looking similar – maybe from who they’re influenced by and learn from.

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      1. Sure. We learn and adapt tech… i understand that.

        this is interesting… you don’t have much band work up. that’s crazy. you should. i’m gonna call bullshit on that excuse btw. that’s like saying ‘i dont post wedding pics because everyone’s pics of the b/g look the same’ any event that is going on… everyone has the same factors to work with be it live show, wedding, or whatever event. you need to post more of your stuff. take a look at this guy…

        http://ahunterphoto.com/beneath/

        you should look at the rest of his site too. he used to do a lot of live band images … they are obviously great… BUT it’s his story telling that leaves me breathless.

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      2. Dunno why I can’t reply to your comment below, so I’ll reply to my own 🙂 Yeah, busted. Good BS call 🙂 I havne’t posted many shots of music lately because I haven’t been to many shows recently. that’s changing as I’m moving to shoot more bands on a pass than just going to small shows with no restrictions.

        I’m digging ahunter’s stuff! Will keep looking.

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  3. What’s perhaps more interesting than style to me is that when you started you took anything and everything. You didn’t take it only if it fit your ideals, you took everything you could get. You said yes to everything. But I’m guessing you said yes to everything until you reached a point where you could start saying no to some things, and yes to the things that you really wanted, so even if you can’t be pigeon-holed into a niche style or type of photography, eventually you became known for the quality of your work and the stature of your clients. It takes a long time to become an overnight success.

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    1. so i had to sleep on this comment and really think about it. i’m not sure that i do say “no” to things. wasn’t i telling you about the dog party? i think every time i pick up a camera i look at it as an opportunity to learn something or really just PLAY. new angles new technique. do i think that this dog party will give me great amazing art? prob not, but who knows. i’m not one to really follow the big names in photography, but i did recently read something from chase jarvis that i thought was noteworthy. he said (i’m paraphrasing) become a brilliant technical photographer. know how to take a solid image… headshot, commercial image… whatever. you will get respect for that but your personal work is what will set you apart. anyone can learn to light a shot… your personal images will show a client what you can really bring to the table.

      this dog party client cited personal work on my site as the reason for hiring me.

      it does take a long time to become an overnight success. haha. 🙂 i really do feel like a success, but then again my definition of a “success” is to get paid work.

      *do forgive this epic response. im just on my first cup of coffee

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      1. Interesting. The dog party actually sounds funny. Sorry my comment stumped you. You do wonderful work, and I like your definition of success. Doing what you love to do and getting paid for it is the definition of success in my book. Being the master of your own destiny in creative endeavors is admirable and an inspiration to those that think it’s a pipe dream that can’t be obtained.

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