Photographers Specialisms: What kind of photographer Do I Need?

Working with a professional photographer should be a happy and pleasurable experience yet so many clients I speak to talk of a stressful unproductive business.  In order to avoid a bad experience I would suggest that choosing the right kind of photographer to shoot your brief is an essential part of selecting a one.
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Photography is a big industry and within it you’ll discover a vast array of genres and specialists.  Although many photographers will have a good broad knowledge of a range of these specialist fields, few if any will be master of them all.  Some photographers will adapt quickly to the new demands that a unfamiliar subject may present them with and sure the basic principles of composition, lighting and exposure remain the same no matter what the brief, however most will admit to being only truly comfortable with a select few areas of expertise.  This is because the technical knowledge and experience of a photographer is only a very small part of what a photographer needs in order to be able to carry out their job effectively.  For example it is imperative that a wedding photographer possesses finely tuned interpersonal skills that will enable them to work closely with the bride and her family with warmth, compassion, professionalism and at times diplomacy.  A Product photographer however need not exhibit the same personal attibutes in order to be great at their chosen specialism but instead will need an entirely different skill set including an acute understanding of commercial practises and their unique requirements.

Considering these unique qualities and skills that each sector of the photography industry must possess it is therefore essential that you attempt to highlight which one of these specialisms will best serve your own unique requirements.  There are two very distinct areas of the industry and listed below are these sectors and the relevant niches within them:

Wedding Photographers and Family Portrait Studios.  By far the most widespread form of professional photography and one that most members of the general public will have contact with at some stage in their life.  These photographers are skilled at dealing with this ‘domestic’ market are should possess well developed and natural ‘people’ skills that helps set their clients at ease and form a good rapport.  Within this industry you’ll discover a wealth of different styles and approaches from the traditional through to the more gritty reportage photojournalist feel.

Commercial Photography. The other main sector of the photography industry that concerns its self with business to business photographic services.  Within the realm of commercial photography exists many many unique niches, each with their own specific skill set.  Again many photographers will list a selection of genres but its best to view their portfolio before accepting all of their claims.  Here are the main genres: Corporate Events, Press and Photojournalism, Exterior and Architectural, Interiors and Roomsets, Still life encompassing Product Photography, Pack Shots and sometimes Food and Drink, Aerial, Animals and Wildlife, Automotive, Fashion and Beauty, Film and Theatre, Landscapes, Lifestyle and People, Panoramic, Photo Illustration, Portraiture, Sports, and finally Under Water.

As you can see there is more to being a photographer than just owning the latest and greatest version of a digital camera.  When deciding on which type of photographer you need it is without doubt a very personal decision based on many unique concerns.  However care must be taken to at least select a photographer that is experienced in your field, be that the ‘domestic’ market or ‘commercial’ sector, as the two industries require very different skills.  Understandably your location and budget may not enable you to hire the very best photographer relevant to your brief but still research them carefully and study their portfolio for evidence of their competence and skill.