Sticking to one or two genres and specializing in them is not a bad thing. But are we going a bit too far with it? Are we putting ourselves into boxes and worse: allow other people force us stay in them? In this fantastic video, Sean Tucker reminds you why you should get out of the box, ignore the genres and “labelmakers” and just shoot what makes you happy. If you need a pep talk today, this video is a must-watch.
It’s worth noting that specialization and consistency are important if you’re a working professional photographer. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot what makes you happy just for your soul and step out of your usual genres. And if you’re a hobbyist, there’s absolutely no need to pick up a single genre. But what about those who try to make you label you and make you stick to the label? How do you handle them? This can be especially tough if you’re just starting out.
Four years ago, I wrote about this labeling that we’re all experiencing in life in general, not just as photographers (it’s in Serbian though). I believe that most people need “labels” so they can give them definitions, boundaries and guidelines within which they should think about someone. And I think that’s perfectly normal. But it’s also normal if you don’t need those labels and don’t feel the need to stick them to neither yourself nor others. If you’re in this second group: I feel ya!
But the problem arises when people force a label upon you and try to make you stay within its boundaries. Photographers who do this will criticize whatever you do if it falls out of your usual genre. Let’s say you usually shoot street: people will criticize you if you post portrait or landscape photos. “It’s just not you,” they’ll say. But as Sean points out, people like this are insecure and in a way they see you as a threat. So, in a very strange way, their behavior is actually a compliment.
When you shoot and share photos, let other people argue what box they belong to. You just keep taking beautiful images and do what makes you happy. Remember that you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, and it’s perfectly fine (and even desirable) to keep your freedom.
Make sure to watch Sean’s video for more encouraging and wise words. And remember: even if you don’t fit any label, that doesn’t mean your photos aren’t stunning.