What Kind of Photographer Am I? – Why Titles Don’t Really Matter to Hobbyists

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"Union Paving" by D. Travis North

When faced with the question about what kind of photographer I am, I used to freeze up.  There are so many things and so many sensitive people to consider.  Eventually, I developed my elevator pitch:

I’m a freelance photographer with a strong interest in urban architecture and landscapes and the details that are associated with them.  I shoot first for myself and my own creative release, but some of my work has been published and some of my work is for sale.  Additionally, I dedicate a portion of my life to the education of other emerging photographers through my web based magazine, Shutter Photo.

I am pretty proud of my elevator pitch.  It took me a long time to develop it and I have practiced it well.  I am especially proud of the fact that I don’t specifically label myself.  I don’t explicitly state that I am a Landscape Photographer, nor do I cross that line by saying I’m a Professional (or even a Semi-Professional) Photographer.  Titles such as these are irrelevant and misleading.

True professionals – those that make their living exclusively with photography – have titles.  This is a branding issue for them.  Annie Leibovitz is a portrait photographer.  That’s what she’s known for, that’s why you would hire her.  You would not hire Leibovitz to photograph the new sky scraper down town.  I’m sure she’d do a lovely job, but that’s not her expertise and it’s not her brand.  In the professional world, titles make a difference.  But I feel it’s safe to assume that if you are a professional, you stumbled here by accident – because this article is not targeted at you.  For the rest of us, we are hobbyists.  Photography is secondary to our primary income – we may not even make any money off of our work.  And for us, titles don’t matter.

The truth is that we – as hobbyists – don’t restrict ourselves.  We are exploring the world of photography as a whole.  And while we may latch on to one thing or the other, there is much to be gained by experimenting in areas outside our comfort zone.  We are not specialists like Leibovitz.  As such, it would be unfair to label ourselves in such a specific manner.  We are not to be pigeonholed.  We are photographers – and that’s as specific as we need to get.

So think long and hard about what you do as a photographer.  And think about how you present yourself.  Are you restricting yourself too much with the titles that you might throw around?  Are you possibly missing great opportunities with such labels?  Perhaps it’s time to take a broader approach.  Discuss your interests like I have in my elevator pitch.  But don’t pin yourself to one specific genre.

Greetings.  I am Travis North, and I take my camera everywhere.  I’ll shoot whatever seems appealing and no challenge is too small.  But don’t ask me to narrow my horizons any further than that.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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