I’ve been told for years that in order to succeed as a photographer I MUST refine what I shoot. Narrow my focus and to specialize in a particular photographic genre. And I’ve listened. For years I’ve gone against my own instincts and listened to people who proclaim themselves to know better. No more. You see, I love “photography”. I love looking through the lens and using that perspective to hone my vision by finding compositions that I’d only see while looking through the lens.
I believe that to “specialize” actually makes us weaker. I want to know everything that I’m capable of doing with a camera and lens.
When I first started as a photographer I shot portraits and weddings. I quickly found that that genre was certainly not for me. I was (and still am) good at it. I just don’t get any enjoyment out of using my skills to photograph people. I found that, when shooting weddings specifically, other people had too much say in what should have been MY creative process and it sucked the joy out of photography.
So much so, that I actually gave up on photography for a several years.
Anyway, now I photograph what I want and I’m extremely happy and enthusiastic with the process again! I do that by incorporating photography into everything else I enjoy doing, like traveling, hiking, hunting, and fishing.
For instance, my wife and I do a considerable amount of volunteer work with the Arizona Antelope Foundation (www.azantelope.org) and other conservation groups around the state. We started doing this several years ago and learned that many of the volunteers were also hunters who want to ensure that the animals they hunt are safe from encroaching human civilization and that the herds are able to migrate without impairment. To do that, much of the volunteer work consists of barbed wire fence removal and modification.
After speaking with many of the hunters that volunteered for the projects, my wife really started getting into learning how to hunt. I kind of stayed on the sidelines for a while, unsure of how I really felt about it. Until, one day I was talking to a bow hunter and she explained the challenges she faced and all she had to learn about tracking and stalking. THAT got me interested. Not the harvesting of an animal, but tracking and seeing how close you have to get to them. I enjoy the challenge of getting within 50 yards of a herd of javelina. Or even seeing a White Tail buck! Also known (with good reason) as the Grey Ghost! This weekend I got within 20 yards of a very curious javelina and now I’m hooked on trying to get as close as I can….with a camera.
With that in mind I’m going to add wildlife photography to my considerable photographic repertoire! I’m super excited about this and this is EXACTLY why I REFUSE to limit myself when it comes to what and how I photograph.
This is why I’ve always referred to myself as a “nature” photographer. It encompasses much more of who I am and why I photograph.
So keep your eyes open for new photographs and some fun stories!