Generalist or Specialist?

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Sep 14, 2012
124
Texas
Don
I tried doing specialized photography on subjects, like buildings. But, I find it is too much work and takes a lot of the fun out of photography.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
Doesn't it take quite some professional skills to claim being a specialist? I've seen pros in landscape, macro, portrait, or even street photography and usually they'll tell you they are interested in other genres too, just they don't make money with something they're not specialised in.

That pretty much explained why I'm a generalist.
I would say it may take skills, but define "professional skills". I've known lots pretty darn good shooters that aren't professionals (and I've known a bunch of Pros that shouldn't be :eek:).

I started out as a generalist. I then realized that one of the major reasons I stagnated and stopped growing was because I tried to be a jack of all trades but was never able to master a single one.

Now, sports, portraits and events are my focus and I'm all the better for it. I still will shoot the occasional landscape or macro, but I don't really do them justice.
I don't think I agree with you here, which might be a first. I think you need to focus in a few areas to develop skills that can then be used in other areas. I have no dubt that my event work made me a better shooter in every area. But that became just work, work I enjoyed, but still work. So for work I was a specialist, but for enjoyment I'm very much a generalist.
 

jyc860923

Veteran
Aug 29, 2018
104
Shenyang, China
贾一川
I would say it may take skills, but define "professional skills". I've known lots pretty darn good shooters that aren't professionals (and I've known a bunch of Pros that shouldn't be :eek:).
True enough, being professional doesn't actually describe the level of skills, but dedication.
 
Feb 6, 2015
124
Central Ohio, USA
Andrew
I would say it may take skills, but define "professional skills". I've known lots pretty darn good shooters that aren't professionals (and I've known a bunch of Pros that shouldn't be :eek:).


I don't think I agree with you here, which might be a first. I think you need to focus in a few areas to develop skills that can then be used in other areas. I have no dubt that my event work made me a better shooter in every area. But that became just work, work I enjoyed, but still work. So for work I was a specialist, but for enjoyment I'm very much a generalist.
I've definitely done that. My street photography shooting has made me better in my event work.
I think I differential fun from work and I'm also very hard on myself when it comes to the work I produce.
 

wee-pics

Veteran
Sep 13, 2016
104
Germany
Walter
@bilzmale, post: 354755

Generalist or specialist? Well, I'm not really sure where to locate myself.
Can you call yourself a generalist when the topics you usually get into your box can be counted with your ten fingers? I see the distinction slightly differently for myself. There are basically two "modes" of taking photos for me: the first is what I'd call photographic diary, the second is what I'd call attempts of "art(istic)" photos, trying to get something done with the camera that corresponds to what painters have in their minds ... with (alas) far too few really convincing results. But the few I get are worth the effort and give a little "high". Both modes cover various fields from landscape, flowers, architecture to portraits etc.

I can see from the results of a friend of mine how far you can get as a specialist. His focus over the last fifty years has been on musicians (concert photography) and the results he gets with his very individual style of in-camera double exposures are stunning as you can see here: www.re-note.de A really unique stylistic idiom (Formensprache as we call it in German).
 
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jyc860923

Veteran
Aug 29, 2018
104
Shenyang, China
贾一川
I think:

Steve Huff is a generalist;
Jared Polin is a specialist;
Tony Northrup is a generalist;
Ted Forbes is a generalist;
Mattias Burling is a generalist;
Omar Gonzalez is a specialist;
Dustin Abbott is a specialist;
Thomas Heaton is a specialist;
Steve Perry is a specialist;
Elia Locardi is a specialist;
Sean Tucker is a generalist;
Morten Hilmer is a specialist;
Nathan Cool is a specialist;
Peter McKinnon is a generalist.

What are your thoughts?
 
Dec 31, 2013
124
Louisville, Ky
I think:

Steve Huff is a generalist;
Jared Polin is a specialist;
Tony Northrup is a generalist;
Ted Forbes is a generalist;
Mattias Burling is a generalist;
Omar Gonzalez is a specialist;
Dustin Abbott is a specialist;
Thomas Heaton is a specialist;
Steve Perry is a specialist;
Elia Locardi is a specialist;
Sean Tucker is a generalist;
Morten Hilmer is a specialist;
Nathan Cool is a specialist;
Peter McKinnon is a generalist.

What are your thoughts?
I only know who three of theses people are. Sean Tucker I actually respect and really like his work. The other two who I know, I think are jerks who do and say things just to gain views, followers, etc.
 

Briar

All-Pro
Oct 27, 2010
124
Scotland
Karen
I only know who three of theses people are. Sean Tucker I actually respect and really like his work. The other two who I know, I think are jerks who do and say things just to gain views, followers, etc.
I like Thomas Heaton, especially when he is having a bad day and nothing is going to plan!!! He maintains a good humour about it and comes across likeable. I think his videos are much better than the stills he shares on the channel though but then I’m not all that into general landscape photography.
 

jyc860923

Veteran
Aug 29, 2018
104
Shenyang, China
贾一川
I only know who three of theses people are. Sean Tucker I actually respect and really like his work. The other two who I know, I think are jerks who do and say things just to gain views, followers, etc.
Hi Bobby I'm pretty sure I know who those two are, click agree if one of them is IMO a specialist and the other a generalist.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
I think:

Steve Huff is a generalist;
Jared Polin is a specialist;
Tony Northrup is a generalist;
Ted Forbes is a generalist;
Mattias Burling is a generalist;
Omar Gonzalez is a specialist;
Dustin Abbott is a specialist;
Thomas Heaton is a specialist;
Steve Perry is a specialist;
Elia Locardi is a specialist;
Sean Tucker is a generalist;
Morten Hilmer is a specialist;
Nathan Cool is a specialist;
Peter McKinnon is a generalist.

What are your thoughts?
Several of these guys I know how they are and some I wish I didn't :whistling:. Only I few I think I know enough about to guess if they are generalists or specialists.
 

jyc860923

Veteran
Aug 29, 2018
104
Shenyang, China
贾一川
Several of these guys I know how they are and some I wish I didn't :whistling:. Only I few I think I know enough about to guess if they are generalists or specialists.
Take Steve Huff for example, if you go to his website, there's an about me and some personal project pages shows other sides of him that you don't usually get to know from Youtube videos, this way I find some interesting aspects and photos of the reviewers.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
Take Steve Huff for example, if you go to his website, there's an about me and some personal project pages shows other sides of him that you don't usually get to know from Youtube videos, this way I find some interesting aspects and photos of the reviewers.
He's one of those I could guess about.
 
Oct 20, 2012
104
The Netherlands
Ad Dieleman
I think:

Steve Huff is a generalist;
Jared Polin is a specialist;
Tony Northrup is a generalist;
Ted Forbes is a generalist;
Mattias Burling is a generalist;
Omar Gonzalez is a specialist;
Dustin Abbott is a specialist;
Thomas Heaton is a specialist;
Steve Perry is a specialist;
Elia Locardi is a specialist;
Sean Tucker is a generalist;
Morten Hilmer is a specialist;
Nathan Cool is a specialist;
Peter McKinnon is a generalist.

What are your thoughts?
None of these youtubers stand out to me as exceptional photographers, maybe because they usually don't show their own work. I must say I only get inspired by truly excellent photographers and none of them are in that category as far as I'm concerned. That also means that I don't really care if they're specialist or generalist.
 

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