What’s Your Specialty?

Most professionals do pretty much the same thing every day. Tax lawyers go to work and deal with tax codes. That’s their specialty. Tree surgeons climb trees and cut branches. That’s their specialty. Computer programmers type code and talk Star Trek. That’s their specialty.

Photographers though, get to do all sorts of things. Yes, they all involve taking pictures. But there’s a world of difference between taking pictures of a sporting event and taking pictures of snowscapes. The skills are different, the challenge is different, the enjoyment is different… and yet for most photographers, they’re all exciting. Given the opportunity to take an effective picture, few photographers would refuse, whatever the subject.

But when you treat photography as a business, it can pay to specialize.

AboutTheImage recently published a news report about Jason Hawkes’ new aerial photography site. Hawkes, whom AboutTheImage describes as a “veteran aerial photographer” rents helicopters and takes pictures of the view as he flies across his native London as well as spots around the world. He’s published 25 books and his images have been used by a who’s who of big corporate clients.

It’s fair to say that when an art director thinks of using a photographer for an aerial shot, Jason Hawkes is going to be one of the first names that comes to mind.

But any photographer can specialize in this way. (Although you might want to think a couple of times before renting a helicopter; they can be pretty expensive.) Carolyn Wright, for example, is known not just for her legal skills but also for her animal photography. Chuck Anderson is known for the strange things he does with light in Photoshophawkes.jpg.

Each of those specialties has helped the photographer to stand out in the marketplace, win jobs or make sales. They’ve given the photographer a niche.

That doesn’t mean that as a niched photographer, you can’t take pictures of other things too. You can. But if you can become known as a specialist in one area, and do work in that area particularly well, you can expect to pick up a steady flow of work from buyers in that small market.

Like Jason Hawkes, having your own website filled with specialist images is a good place to start.

[tags] jason hawkes, photography speciality, aerial photography [/tags]

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