Part two in a five-part series helps you organize and build…
Not all photographers are the same. We all shoot a variety of genres, from portraits to landscapes to sports, and much more. There are infinite ways a photographer could focus their career, but how does one decide which genre to pursue?
Maybe you’re just starting out in photography and you’re not sure what, exactly, to shoot. Or maybe you’re a photographer who found yourself surprisingly uninspired after pursuing what you thought was the right career path for you.
I’ve discovered that the best type of photography for you has more to do with your innate personality type than with the subjects you find yourself shooting.
Wrong Career or Wrong Focus?
When I was 21, I wanted to become a photographer. So I rented a small storefront in my hometown and set up a starter portrait studio. I shot a few portraits of kids, some headshots for friends, and a band or two, but found myself terribly uninspired.
Something was off.
While I knew I loved photography, I never stopped to consider which type of photography best suited me. I shot studio portraits because I thought that’s what photographers do. I didn’t fully enjoy it, and thought maybe I wasn’t meant to be a photographer.
I struggled creatively for years before realizing I was unwittingly focusing on types of photography that didn’t suit me. The reality was quite simple: I was a passive shooter at the time, which is an obvious mismatch in the very active role of studio portrait photographer.
Once I learned how to distinguish between active and passive photography, I made better career decisions. I started shooting passive assignments like architecture, landscapes, and travel photography. My career took off, and I now love what I do.
Are You an Active or Passive Photographer?
To determine which type of photography suits you, consider your own personality type and seek out photography projects that align accordingly.
Accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.
Passive photographers, often people with more introverted personalities, prefer to observe and shoot a scene without interfering or engaging with their subjects. They may be less outgoing than their active counterparts, and they prefer types of photography that capture authentic, candid, real-life scenes.
There are plenty of appropriate career paths for passive photographers. These genres typically require the photographer to be a skilled observer, to capture the scene or events as they exist or unfold. Here are a few examples:
- Landscape photography
- Architectural photography
- Street photography
- Wildlife photography
- Product photography
- Sports photography
- Concert photography
Engaging or ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits.
Active photographers, often people with more extroverted personalities, prefer to engage with their subjects and directly influence the outcome of the shoot. They may be more outgoing than their passive counterparts, and will prefer to pose their subjects and command much more creative control of the overall scene.
There are plenty of opportunities in active photography. These genres typically require an assertive photographer to take initiative and fully compose the end result. Here are a few examples:
- Fashion/Beauty photography
- Adventure photography
- Family portrait photography
- Maternity/Newborn photography
- Wedding photography
- Boudoir photography
- Pet photography
Experiment & Grow
If you’re new to photography and unsure where to start, try focusing on a career path that suits your personality. If you’re struggling in your existing photography career, perhaps, like me, you were focusing on types of photography that just weren’t the right fit.
Be aware that your personality and interests will evolve over time, and you don’t need to assume a fixed role. Feel free to explore all types of photography, whenever it feels right.
Do you feel your own photography career is on the right path? I’d love to hear from fellow photographers. Please comment below.