Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018
NICHE or NO NICHE!
(pronounced either neesh or nitch....both are acceptable)
As a serious photographer, or dedicated hobbyist, have you found your niche?
Have you discovered a subject you love to photograph above everything else? If you can answer that question with a confident “yes”, then stop reading and go spend this time photographing more puppies, mushrooms, brides or whatever your passion is!
But if you are inclined to answer that question with a hesitant “maybe” or a frustrated “no”, then continue reading to get my perspective on how to find your niche, or more importantly, how to decide if you really need to have a niche!
If you travel in photography circles, you no doubt have run across discussions that give advice about narrowing down your subject matter to what you truly love to photograph, and then concentrating on honing your skills in that specific area or genre.
Usually these discussions end with something like, “Don’t worry if you haven’t found your niche, or discovered your signature style, just keep on shooting and it will come.” And many times it does! Your niche often evolves and will bring a certain level of comfort and encouragement to help you move forward in a specific direction.
But I have discovered that many photographers, even many who have been shooting for years, (or decades like me), still haven’t found their niche!! Why not! For me, limiting the genre of photography I enjoy, or the subjects I like to shoot, or the styles I like to experiment with, feels too boring, too restrictive, too confining, like being in a photographic prison! (Okay, that last part may be a bit dramatic!)
For years I thought about this and worried about it. If I continued to photograph everything I saw that was interesting to me, I probably would never be skillful at shooting anything, (you know, to paraphrase the saying, “A Jack (or Jill) of all trades is a master of none”). But I knew if I had to limit or curtail what I photographed, the joy I find in photography would be greatly diminished.
But today, after decades of shooting, I can proudly say I am still ‘niche free’, (and worry free), and at the same time have continued to maintain my love for photography! With some critical and honest contemplation, here is the most important question I had to answer to help me embrace being ‘niche-less’:
What is my foremost reason for wanting to be a photographer?
Here is a short list of some possibilities for you to consider:
· I want to use photography as a career. This will be a business and I must do what it takes to develop a customer base and earn money.
· I want to have a usable skill to help my family and community. I would like to be the official photographer at family weddings, birthdays, sports games and community events.
· I want to be able to take great pictures documenting all the places where I travel, so I can make quality photo books.
· I want to take photos of my children’s milestones and family growth through the years.
· I want to develop a solid presence on social media. It gives my self esteem a boost when others enjoy my photography and say I’m a good photographer.
· I want to use photography as a stress reliever and a pleasant diversion from my everyday work and routine.
· I want to use my photos as the starting point for my art projects. I love the creativity of using editing software to transform a photo into something from my imagination.
I’m sure you can think of more reasons, and most of us probably have several reasons, but once you nail down your primary motivation for being a photographer, you can decide if identifying a niche will be an important part of your success and contentment, or not. Here are some examples:
If you are looking to earn money, branding yourself and advertising your area of expertise, (your niche), will help funnel potential customers down to the ones who are actually looking for your particular photographic skills.
If you are looking to build a large presence on social media, posting images of one genre or style, (your niche), will attract a larger group of dedicated followers who have your same interests.
If your motivation is more internal, meaning you take pictures primarily because it brings you joy, (no niche), then you are not as concerned with earning money, gathering followers or being motivated by other outside influences. You may have little or no incentive to narrow down your subject matter or define a shooting style. This leaves you free to explore, experiment, change, evolve, discover, learn, and grow in many directions.
Of course I’m not suggesting that by having a specific purpose or niche means you won’t find happiness or joy in your photography. In fact, if you have chosen a niche you love and are attaining your goals, (i.e. earning money, becoming popular on social media, or improving your skills, for example), you will also love being a photographer.
But if you get bored easily, or just enjoy variety, I would like to offer an alternative to developing a specific niche. And that is to simply photograph whatever you enjoy with no qualms or qualifying ‘ifs, ands or buts’! Your interests may change from year to year, season to season, or even day to day. But you will make connections with, and learn from a diverse group of photographers who will help enrich your photography experiences and expand your creativity. And yes, your skills and talents as a photographer will still continue to increase and expand, even if you are a Jack or Jill of many genres and styles of photography.
In practical terms for me, this means, shooting flowers in spring, and landscapes in the summer and fall months. Winter will probably mean concentrating on still life and food photography indoors. At the beginning of the school year I’ll be shooting portraits of my grandkids, and in December I’ll probably be shooting Christmas lights. Last month I was shooting Hindu temples in Bali and real estate photos for a friend selling her house. And inbetween there is street photography, black & white, high key, macro photography, and the list goes on and on! The expectation of what I might be shooting next and what my finished image will be, is invigorating and exciting!
To sum up, developing a niche or not, depends on whichever decision leads you closer to your goals as a photographer, and at the same time adds the most to your enthusiasm for taking pictures. Imogen Cunningham said, “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” Me too!
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Monday, June 11, 2018
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Friday, June 8, 2018
Provo Utah TempleLook what I've been missing! I only live a short distance from this temple and cannot believe I haven't been there when these beautiful roses are in bloom. They are magnificent and the possible photo compositions seemed endless.
Because the lighting was very 'contrasty' with lots of dark shadows, I combined 3 separate exposures to even it out. This was my favorite composition including lots of roses shown in a diagonal line leading the eye into the frame toward the temple.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Spotlight Please! When I'm shooting garden flowers on a sunny day, I look for single flowers lit by the sun with a background that is in the shade. This adds drama to the subject and composition, and makes even common flowers look special. I also try to include a hint of the foliage in the background for additional interest so the viewer knows this was taken in a garden and not in a studio using a black backdrop.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Uluwatu Coastline, Bali
This is the view from Pura Luhur Uluwatu, claimed to be one of the most holy temples in Bali. It is perched on the edge of a cliff with beautiful ocean views in all directions, at the very southern edge of the island. We managed to be visiting at the perfect time to take photos.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Congratulations to our oldest grandson Taylor. I usually don't post family photos but once in a while I can't help myself! Taylor is a young man of honor and integrity, plus he is humble and kind to everyone. And he was one of the top 30 students in his graduating class of around 800 I think! (Only a grandma can get away with bragging like this! He never would, and I'm going to be in trouble if he sees this!!)
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Woodland Hills, Utah
There is beauty everywhere! I sometimes forget there is beauty close to home, not just in faraway places. When life gets too busy, I forget to look for it, but when I do, often something beautiful jumps right out at me, even in a vacant lot next to the road. I hope you look for something beautiful during your travels today!
About this photo: no, a new type of large Utah sunflower is not in bloom! These wildflowers are a little bit bigger than an Oreo cookie on a plant that is about a foot tall. And no, there was no Photoshop trickery involved in this image. Unique and different compositions can be created by choosing the right scene, the right lens, the right camera settings and the right perspective or point of view. Here I used a wide angle lens, a small aperture (f/20), placed my camera just a few inches away from the flowers and focused about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the scene. I was in a hurry because behind me were black rain clouds that were moving quickly and dumped just minutes after I took this shot. If I had had more time, and wanted a technically better image, (sharper), I would have put my camera on a tripod, taken numerous shots using different focal points from foreground to background, then combined them in PS or another software program. (For you Utah County photographers, I recently posted a similar shot that I had taken several years ago, and said it was taken in the Elk Ridge area. I went back to find this place again, and it is on the main road into Woodland Hills and the flowers are blooming right now.)
Monday, May 21, 2018
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Saturday, May 19, 2018
A peaceful moment in time...or so it seems.
We only spent one day on the beach in Bali, and were there along with about a hundred of our closest friends. The day was hot and humid, the midday sun was bright and moving across a cloudless sky, bleaching out most colors. Not good conditions for landscape photography, but I knew I had to come away with at least one beach photo. I noticed this pergola with hanging lanterns and draped in matching fabric. I thought this might add some color and interest to an otherwise boring and 'high key' like scene. It was a miracle there were no people directly in front of me, (they were everywhere else on the beach). Just as I was quickly composing my shot, using the pergola as a 'frame', this lady strolled into my picture and stopped long enough for me to use her as my subject of interest! She almost looks like a model purposefully posing for the camera, but she had no idea I was taking her picture! (I did do a bit of editing to lighten and even out the color to enhance a high key look.)
Monday, May 14, 2018
Saturday, May 12, 2018
Welcome, I'm so glad you're here!!!! This was our greeting as we entered the Monkey Sanctuary in Bali! The country is filled with ferocious looking statues, (among more friendly ones), which is so contradictory to the nature of the Balinese people we met. Mostly, these people were soft spoken, respectful, modest, friendly, helpful, etc.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Salt Lake Temple
Predawn when the light was dim and warm and cast a soft dreamy glow on the Salt Lake temple. Each year as the trees grow larger in front of the temple it gets increasing hard to compose an image that includes both the temple and the flower beds from this vantage point. I used a tripod and slow shutter speed to capture the light and still had to edit to increase the exposure. (This was the first shot I took on the same morning as my two previous posts.)
Monday, May 7, 2018
Temple Square - Spring 2018
Whenever I point my camera at the sun, I am usually surprised at the result. Often the result is a blown out mess, but sometimes I end up with interesting sun flares or colorful bokeh, (soft light circles), that make for unique images. This one may not be everyone's 'cup of tea' but it certainly meets my criteria of trying to find different and original compositions and lighting effects that I haven't seen before in any of the photos I've taken of the Salt Lake Temple over the years (see last post). P.S. I did a fair amount of editing to make this a presentable image by toning down the exposure on the highlights and lightening the midtones and darks.
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Temple Square - Spring 2018
This morning I made my yearly spring pilgrimage to Temple Square to photograph flowers. It is always a challenge for me to get different or unique compositions because I have done this for so many years, plus today the sky did not cooperate and was pretty boring. Nevertheless, it's always a beautiful day on Temple Square!!
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Long Tail Macaques
Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Monday, April 30, 2018
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
I see this temple printed on many of the travel brochures for Bali. It is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, (sometimes called the floating temple), built on a tiny island and dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu. I was disappointed because it was a dark and cloudy day when we visited, my camera batteries were dying as quickly as I changed them, and my lenses were fogging up because of the 100% humidity. I took tons of photos that ultimately ended up in the 'trash bin', but there were a few seconds when the clouds gave way to a couple of blue patches that lit up the temple. I snapped this photo quickly even though there was person's head in the bottom of the frame. I cropped her out!
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Pura Taman Saraswati
After traveling half way around the world, (30+ hours in airports/airplanes with 3 layovers), and then having a limited number of days and daylight hours, it is hard to narrow down photo opportunities when visiting such a beautiful, culturally rich and interesting place as Bali. But having to do just that, I opted to concentrate on the history, culture and people rather than the landscapes, beach scenes and sunsets. (After all, a beautiful sunset over the ocean occurs in many places!) Most Balinese are Hindu, and their religious practices and rituals permeate their every day lives. They say there are at least 200,000 temples and monuments on this small island, some dating back to the 10th century. This is Pura Taman Saraswati, built in honor of Saraswati, the deity of learning and the arts.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Tucson, Arizona LDS Temple
During our recent visit to Arizona, I was able to photograph the Tucson LDS (Mormon)Temple, (in addition to the Gilbert, AZ temple shown in a previous post). It is the 157 of 159 operating temples around the world and opened in 2017. When I first set out with my camera, I was disappointed that I just couldn't seen to find a good angle or composition, at least from ground level. I was not happy with any of my photos from that day. But it was good luck that the motel we had chosen was just a short drive from the temple so I was able to go back several times both at sunrise and sunset, and was finally rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. I ended up taking this shot from across a busy street and had to time my shots in between the cars passing right in front of me.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Gilbert Arizona LDS Temple
Even though the weather report looked boring, I drug myself out of bed well before dawn. We were visiting my son's family in Mesa several weeks ago, and I was determined to photograph the LDS (Mormon) temple located a short distance away in Gilbert Arizona. Even though it has been open since 2014, (the 142nd of 159 temples worldwide), I had not seen it during our previous visits. I pulled into the parking lot and found I was the only one there. As I waited in the dark, I was already convinced the sunrise would be boring as there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and since the temple faces directly east, to my back, I wouldn't even be able to get a sunburst for added interest. But as the darkness began to lift I noticed a few hazy clouds starting to form behind the temple. This looked promising. As time went on, they continued to grow in size and become more defined. Then to my delight, I detected a slight pink glow that increased in color with every passing second until they formed a beautiful backdrop. I started taking photos like crazy. But the best was yet to come. When the sun finally peeked over the horizon, its rays lit up the temple with an ethereal like glow. The scene was so beautiful and so peaceful that I only took a few pictures, then stopped just to enjoy this fleeting moment in time, and thank God for this lovely beginning to the day. (For a night owl, sometimes getting up early is so worth it!!)
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Friday, March 30, 2018
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Monday, March 26, 2018
The Ocotillo plants are just beginning to bloom in Saguaro National Park located in southern Arizona.
(Tip: For those of you not familiar with this plant and the cactus this Park is famous for, the common pronunciation of Ocotillo is 'Okoteeo' and Saguaro is 'Sawaro'. Might save you a bit of embarrassment if you ever get to visit this beautiful part of the Amercan south west.)
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Bartender - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Through the years I've had a photography project that I call, 'Interesting People at Work'. (Scroll back to see the previous 5 photos I've posted.) The first rule I follow is that I try to capture part of my subjects' work environment in the photo, and the second rule is that I have to interact, visit with, and get to know the people I'm photographing. This is a bit intimidating and challenging to speak to strangers, and gain their trust until they relax enough to be photographed. I have been posting some of the interesting people with interesting jobs that I've met over the years. This photo was taken in Santa Fe NM for an assignment we were given in a photography workshop I attended. (It was such a 'growing' experience and so rewarding that it became the beginning of this project.) We were to roam the streets, meet interesting people and photograph them. I don't think I have ever been in a stand alone bar either before or since taking this photo!! It had an open front so the inside was visible to people walking on the sidewalk. I glanced in and saw all of the interesting memorabilia on the walls and noticed that the bartender looked just like the photo on the wall behind him. I took a deep breath, went in, introduced myself, and asked him about all the photos on the wall. He told me his father was a great war hero and his bar was dedicated to keeping his dad's memory alive. After we visited, he gave me permission to take his picture. I told him to just go about his work, that I'd like to take a 'non posed' shot. I like that I caught him just as he was mimicking the pose in the photo of his dad. (P.S. I don't even think he was upset that I didn't buy anything!)
Friday, March 9, 2018
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Snake Handler from Costa Rica
This is a snake handler from Costa Rica. In addition to being a bit intimidating, taking environmental portraits of strangers, (who are really not strange), is very satisfying. Everyone has an interesting story to tell! I love to ask questions, listen, then try to capture a bit of their personality in my photos. (Five minutes after this shot, that snake was in my husband's arms....yikes!)
Monday, March 5, 2018
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Spring Daffodils in St. George
"It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care baby by the way
Huh, because I'm happy......." Pharrell Williams
I had a chance meeting with a lovely friend yesterday and she said my photos made her ''happy". Well, that just made me happy! This photo's for you my friend. I hope it makes everyone a little bit happier on this beautiful Sunday!
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Artificial Limb Technician
'Interesting People at Work', Photo No. 3. Initially we were shocked when we walked into an old WWII army barracks in Fiji that was temporarily converted into a makeshift medical center. We saw a long hallway filled with people who were missing legs, sitting in wheelchairs, and lined up against the wall. We soon learned, however, that an organization from India had developed a way to create artificial limbs quickly and inexpensively and a group from this organization was traveling to less developed countries to teach local doctors and medical workers this process. (Many people in the countries they teach, lose limbs because of untreated diabetes.) This group has received world recognition for their accomplishments. During our visit we watched a patient be measured for a prosthetic leg, wait while it was made, receive instruction after it was attached, then walk without assistance, all in the same day! The conditions in which they worked were less than adequate if compared to many other medical facilities, but the results were amazing! Here is one of the technicians creating artificial legs.
Part of the medical team who was also a recipient of a leg demonstrating its flexibility and versitility.
Technician describing the process.
Patient walking on his new leg for the first time.
Specialized oven donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.