Diversify

Miss J. After Eating Chocolate ©Mike Spinak

You might’ve noticed that the picture above shows a little girl, rather than the landscapes, wildlife, wildflowers, and such, which I usually show.

A couple days ago, someone suggested me to a bride-to-be, to photograph her wedding. The bride-to-be replied, “But he’s a nature photographer”.

Yes, I photograph nature.

I also photograph people, as you can see, above. I do a variety of portrait and event photography, including engagements, weddings, births, newborns, infants, toddlers, kids, pre-teens, families, maternity, boudoir, corporate, kid’s sports, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, birthday parties, and more. I photograph them with the same passion, dedication and vision that I bring to my nature photography. I don’t dwell on people pictures much on this site, because this specific website is my nature photography site – but that doesn’t mean I don’t do it.

Monica's Pregnancy ©Mike Spinak

Many nature photographers also do people photography. Take, for examples, the (arguably) two best known photographers in the field, Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell. Besides landscapes, Adams did everything from catalog photos to corporate portraits, for companies from AT&T to Zeiss. He also photographed people for personal reasons, such as his self-funded humanitarian project to photograph the unconstitutionally interned Japanese Americans at the Manzanar War Relocation Center. Adams was a very capable people photographer when he chose to be, as you can see in this picture of Georgia O’Keeffe and Orville Cox. Likewise, for Galen Rowell. During Rowell’s photojournalistic assignments for National Geographic, he photographed the people in his stories as well as the nature. Additionally, he photographed people for humanitarian causes.

While it’s true that knowledge in areas like animal behavior or skills in areas like food styling will give you advantages in specific photography niches, it’s also true that conceptualization skills, understanding light, knowing your photo gear inside-out, recognizing what looks good, being able to communicate ideas visually, and the like, give good photographers advantages that they can apply to any endeavor in every area of photography. There are some compelling reasons why many photographers work in more than one field.

One reason is because of personal interest. People are multifaceted. Lots of people have developed their interests in more than one area. There’s a whole world of fascinating subjects, and time enough to pursue interests in more than one of them. This applies as much to photographers as anyone else. Even beyond developed interests in specialized areas like Rococo sculpture, evolutionary epistemology, or underground hip-hop, there are certain things that interest almost everyone. Most people have some interest in nature. It’s our world. It’s where we came from, and it’s bred into us. Nearly everyone is interested in people. It’s who we are.

Another reason is money. Few photographers are getting wealthy at this occupation, and those who do achieve that level of success often need to put in decades of effort before it gets to that level. The average Joe/Josephine photographer can’t so easily afford to turn work down. The reality is that most photographers work in more than one area, out of economic necessity, as well as loftier reasons.

Yet another reason is cross-disciplinary skill development. Perhaps you’d find that photographing people would hone your abilities with showing interaction. Or, perhaps you’d find that photographing wildlife would hone your ability to work with natural light. The details will be different for each photographer, but almost all photographers will find that expanding into new areas will lead to developing new skills and further honing old ones.

There’s no reason to confine yourself to just one narrow area, and every reason in the world not to. If you’re not already diversifying your photographic interests and skills: go explore your world, and grow as a photographer.


Miss J., After Eating Chocolate

Monica’s Pregnancy


All pictures and text are © Mike Spinak, unless otherwise noted. All pictures shown are available for purchase as fine art prints, and are available for licensed stock use. Telephone: (831) 325-6917. For workshops, please go to http://www.hteiw.com/