why I like to photograph everything

As a professional photographer I’ve specialized in different areas over the course of my career. From food to motorsports to people (and beyond), I’ve felt fortunate to be granted many different opportunities. In case you’ve missed the discussion on any of these specialties, here are a few links to past articles on prophotolife:

Food photography: how to think like a food photographer part 1part 2part 3
People photography: one actor, one weekend, seventeen characters
Motorsports photography: my story, magazine / editorial photography

Sometimes I do feel like the old saying: “a Jack of all trades and master of none”. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. A natural curiousity about different subjects has allowed me to make a living as a professional but still enjoy photography like an amateur. In the end, photography itself has always been my interest, not a particular subject.

There’s definitely been one thing missing from my photographic checklist and that’s the conscious pursuit of nature photography. My perception of a real nature photographer has always involved big glass, macro lenses, ring lights and weeks spent in the wild. Stories from wildlife experts like Moose Peterson can give a glimpse into that lifestyle but, never having made a concerted effort to photograph in the wild, I’ve wondered what my vision as a nature photographer might be like. Just this weekend, after revisiting some personal photos, I caught a glimpse.

On Saturday and Sunday I loaded thousands of my personal images into Adobe Lightroom 2 to give the program a really good test drive. The first task was to edit family photos shot for a friend and I was extremely impressed and pleased with the speed and quality. So much so that I decided to load in my personal images and do a bit of sorting. Yep, I’m moving beyond the trial and finally(!) plunking down my $299 US for the full version of the software (if you’re interested in the 30 day trial, you can Use it today. Download Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 directly. Available only at Adobe.com.).

I began tagging various outdoor photos, many of which never particularly stood out on their own. A number of them were shot in my studio parking lot while walking in or out of the front door (talk about close to home). The images were simple, most shot just as textures and backgrounds. But an obvious style did emerge…and that made me feel good. It’s a start.

Though I may never engage in a fully serious pursuit of nature photography, it’s nice to see that the interest has already emerged in ways that I hadn’t recognized before. I’ve seen this with other professionals, also: the food photographer who shoots landscapes that are never seen by others, for example.

It also makes me realize that, while specializing can play an important role in a photographic career, I’m pleased that it hasn’t limited how, when, or why I pick up a camera. Even if the subject has been shot a million times, even if the light isn’t perfect, even if the idea isn’t completely original. Continuing to shoot anything and everything, whether it’s for fun or profit, is the reason I became a photographer in the first place and the reason I’m still in it today, still trying to learn and grow.

- Jim T.