Photographers are a strange bunch, well most of them (us) I do recognize my own strangeness. Are you a nature photographer, landscape photographer, bird photographer, wildlife photographer, macro photographer, adventure photographer, black and white photographer, street photographer and the list goes on. We all seem compelled to place ourselves into these neat little boxes of restricted definition
Most of us who found our way to nature photography did so out of the excitement of discovery and adventure. Looking forward to experiencing new opportunity and chance of capturing that moment that sparks those primitive emotions. We longed for the unknown if only long enough to focus and press the shutter release. Our pulse quickened with anticipation of what might be, we didn’t know exactly what would come but we wanted to be ready for it. Why then with all the wondrous moments that led us to where we are now do we move the opposite direction and confine ourselves to “_” photographer (fill in your own blank).
Could it be that this is what’s expected of us from the world beyond the photographer, to be willing to place ourselves into specific categories for the benefit of some critic, gallery or art buyer that can then place us within” their” guidelines. Do we create for the sake of others or their expectations? We create for the sake of our desires, interests and what moves us. Would a nature photographer walk by a exhibit of wonderful street photography and discard it because it is not of nature subjects, I think not. Photography is not about specific subjects but the creative process that encompasses the art no matter what subject.
It may be to easy to get locked into our genre from self imposed expectations and ignore opportunities for growth or discovery and possibilities that could enrich our lives. As nature loving photographers is it not true that we can be moved by intimate portraits, macros of detailed butterfly wings, architecture, wildlife or abstracts as much as a sunrises at our favorite location?
Growth does not happen when confining oneself to limits, limits that prevent exploration into areas that can benefit a photographer regardless of their own chosen field. I wouldn’t expect a nature photographer to jump head first into street or architecture photography but the doors must not be shut so tight that could prevent opportunities to be passed by. There is a danger in placing oneself in a box that could gain recognition of specific groups but lose valuable insight for self growth.
If your a nature lover first, and a photographer second, be mindful not to let common perceptions stand in your way of growth and new opportunities. Remember your first spectacular sunrise you were able to capture and the emotions that went along with it. By keeping an open mind to such things we can experience that feeling more in our everyday lives by respecting the world we live in as a whole. If you believe in what you do let it come through in your creations even if your outside your chosen box.
If for one year all nature photographers were to shoot only street photography and all street photographers were to shoot only nature, would images of those subjects be different from what we know them to be today?