Some jobs have a very high cost of entry — like a brain surgeon or a CERN physicist. You can’t suddenly wake up one morning, decide to be a brain surgeon, and then go into business in the afternoon. There are exams you need to pass and experience you need to gain.
Then there are other jobs — like being a photographer — that have a very low cost of entry. You could literally buy a camera in the morning and set up in business as a wedding photographer in the afternoon. You may not be any good and you may fall flat on your face, but you can do it.
The consequence of this is that you need to specialise in order to distinguish yourself in photography. If you remain a generalist, there’s nothing to make you stand out from the mob of people waving their DSLR (or even their iPhone).
So how do you distinguish yourself? The obvious thought is to focus on weddings, or portraits, or landscapes, or product, or food etc etc: the standard photography categories that you see everywhere. And indeed many people make a career out of becoming the very best in a category. But I wonder if that’s enough? Nowadays, the field is so crowded that to be truly successful you need to specialise even more.
Don’t believe me?
Here’s some famous photographers. They have distinguished themselves by:
I’m sure there are others: let me know in the comments.
By the way, if you look around my site you’ll see that I’m hardly a specialist. I don’t even focus on a single category. But then I’m not trying to make a career out of photography. Maybe that’s another specialist: the non-career photographer!