How to Define Yourself as a Photographer

There comes a point in time when you will need to decide what type of photography you like and the specific genres you want to focus on. Most of us start out as generalists, shooting anything and everything that tickles our fancies. But eventually you need to decide on what type of photographer you are or want to be.

Pretty soon after my journey into SLR photography I decided what I liked and what I wanted to focus on. The world of close-up and macro photography was my passion. The worlds within worlds and the finer details of those worlds intrigued me. So I gradually bought the equipment that would help me create better close-ups. I began defining myself as a photographer.

Your photographs are a very personal thing, as they reflect how you see the world and what interests you. So there are a few things you need to do in order to define yourself as a photographer. We are not talking professionals here but ordinary people.

1. Take time for a little introspection

You need to look inside yourself and examine who you are and what you like. What pushes your buttons and what inspires you to create photos. The better you know yourself the better photographer you will become. I am a detail man, so close-ups really make me come alive. Whatever makes you come alive will help define you as a photographer.


photo by withbeautiful

2. Photograph what you like

All of us have very clear likes and dislikes. So with this in mind, identify all of your likes. Sit down with a piece of paper and jot down everything that you enjoy in life. Then work through this list and see if you would enjoy shooting photos of the likes. Cross out all the ones you don’t want to shoot, and there you have your list.

3. Study the pros

This is as simple as going to a library or bookstore and looking at the type of books that interest you. If it’s wildlife photography then look at photo books by great wildlife photographers. If it’s cars or trucks, then study those books. See the angles, lighting, and compositions they use and get an idea of how they have created their images. You will learn a huge amount from the pros.

4. Allow yourself to dream

Visualizing what you like and what you want to shoot will help motivate and distill in your own mind the specifics you want to shoot. Vision, plan, and goals. This can be what type of images and perhaps what kind of equipment you want to own. Working toward a goal will allow you to become what you want and help define you as a photographer. Which of the pro photographers would you like to become? Knowing this will help clarify what type of photographer you define yourself as.

5. Define your audience

By defining your audience you will also define yourself. If you want your photographs to be appreciated by people, what type of audience should they be? As a car photographer the bulk of your audience will be men of a certain economic class who pride themselves in having a great car. A pet photographer will have a different audience to wildlife photographer, and so it will go on.

You may ask why it’s necessary to define yourself. It may not be essential for you to know this, but most photographers who are successful have an in depth understanding which is reflected in their images. If you don’t know your definition as a photographer it will be hard to concentrate on a genre and make a success of it.

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos, a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.

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