What Kind of Photographer Are You?

Now unless you've seen the movie the above quote may not necessarily stick out to you, but for me, it was life-changing. It made me think about my life, and if I was living for myself or not. Were the goals I set upon myself for me? Or were they simply made to be relevant to other people. It made me realize that we are here for a purpose, but not all purposes. It was an acknowledgement that we as people are made for some things and not others.

Old man’s gotta be the old man. Fish has got to be the fish. Gotta be who you are in this world, no matter what.
— Denzel Washinton, Equalizer

Jeff & Tammy

And at that moment, I began to think about photography, design and basically RIVALS. Initially, RIVALS goal was to develop a creative marketing powerhouse, I wanted like-minded individuals to get together and build a business that was not only innate but cohesive... Things didn't necessarily work out that way, though, as of now RIVALS is still a one man show. I noticed later down the road that people are egotistical, they are worried about whose name is headlining the project, as opposed to actually being a part of one... In a sports world, these individuals are the ones who play for the MVP, instead of the championship. So, what did I do? I tried to compensate for their absence, I spent (spend) every day trying to educate myself on different genres of photography, some things I learned help me, but there were also forms of photography that weren't necessary for me, it was very time-consuming.

As much as I love photography I had to come to the realization that every genre wasn't for me. I was studying weddings, infants, events, candids, people, portraits and even selfies. Where was the specialization? Who wants to hire a photographer who does everything? It was the equivalent of going to a buffet and expecting an amazing quality in every type of dish they served... That happened never!

After this idealization, I started thinking about my gear and what equipment I needed to produce my style of photography. I came to the conclusion that I suffered from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) because I wasn't being honest with myself as a photographer. I've always felt empty after a big shoot because I didn't feel like my equipment was adequate. For example, after my first wedding, I noticed that I really needed a macro lens, at the time it was ideal and necessary to capture those ring shots with little effort, so like any wedding photographer, I purchased one. Except, I wasn't a wedding photographer, the lens didn't get any use, it sat on my desk collecting dust, and was sold about 2 weeks later to rectify for what I thought was another void in my kit.

It's not that I didn't feel like a photographer, it's that I didn't think people would take me serious as one, so in order to stay relevant (and busy) I immersed myself into every genre of photography. I told myself that with better gear came more attention and that with more attention I'd be networking, which would eventually lead into streams of opportunity and revenue... But boy was I wrong! I lost myself in this transition, I was shooting things I didn't enjoy, and I think that reflected in my work.

I want to get back to that beginner stage, to that eternal adolescence. I understand now that my eye isn't unique for every situation, I may not be a great event photographer or portrait shooter, it doesn't mean I can't take those images, but perhaps that just isn't my calling. I'm here to enjoy photography as a whole, but maybe I'll only specialize in a few of its aspects. And that's perfectly okay, it doesn't make me any less of a professional.

After all that thinking I went back to the basics, I noticed that this was RIVALS sole purpose, understanding that we all don't individually possess the talent to dominate one market, but as a core collective, we can. So I want to find my specialization and expect to see a more consistent portfolio from me coming.