You’ve probably heard that old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none.” It’s a saying that kind of frustrates me at times. While I understand that it is true, we can spread ourselves too thin by trying to master too many things at once such that we never really get a chance to master any of them, I also think this saying is a bit limiting. Sometimes we tend to look at all the things we could be doing—but then we worry that we may not be able to master a fair number of them, so we hold back. This comes from the viewpoint that it is better to be a master at one thing rather than a jack of all trades.
In the world of photography, though, limiting yourself can be disastrous. It is better, I think, to let yourself explore as much as you desire. This doesn’t necessarily pertain to photographic explorations—though by all means, explore whatever types of photography and subject material that you dream about. But this also holds true for things like your business or your photography blog. Really anything involved in photography. Particularly the things that garner you an audience.
You see, people often tell us to specialize, to become really good at one thing. To become subject experts in one small area of photography. So to use wedding photographers as an example, this might mean that we need to become specialized experts in all things wedding photography related.
But what happens during the off season? What happens when there are fewer wedding gigs available?
Another example might be writing a photography blog, perhaps one that focuses solely on one specific thing, like nature photography or Sony gear reviews. What happens when interest in these things wanes?
What happens is your audience shrinks. Whether you’re a wedding photographer during the off season experiencing fewer couples searching for a photographer, whether you’re writing about gear that is no longer as popular as before, or whether you’re covering a photographic niche that has fallen out of fashion, your audience shrinks, and then you find yourself with a lack of opportunity. You will find yourself pulling in a very limited audience comprised only of the people who are interested in the precise thing that you are doing.
And if that is all you want, then there is nothing wrong with this. However, many of us want to make a business and sell prints to a gallery, a major magazine, or some other lofty goal. Limiting our audiences by keeping the focus narrow doesn’t help us to achieve these things. That’s why I think it may be fruitful to branch out more. If your audience isn’t growing, find new things to draw new people in. Explore new avenues of business, new avenues of art, new topic material to cover on your blog—the list goes on. That’s one of the beauties of photography, is that it is virtually limitless. Diversity is the spice of life, and that’s as true in photography as it is anywhere else. Give people a wider sampling of things to look at and to think about in order to extend your reach and achieve your goals.