Be Diverse. Be Exceptional.

It seems these days that there way too many photographers trying to be everything to everyone. Landscape? You got it. Portraiture? No problem. Architecture? Psshh. Easy. Action? Clockwork. Photojournalism? I think I studied that in college. I think. Weddings? Yeah man. I KNOW this camera has a “wedding” setting…

The truth is, these photographers have the right idea, it’s just that (IMO) the execution is poor. There is a fine line between being diverse enough to cover a significant gamut of photography, and spreading yourself too thin and trying to be the veritable “Leatherman” of photographers. However, unless you’re Vincent LaForet, Tom Mangelsen, David Muench, Scott Markewitz or some other iconic and established photog in their own respective genre, you must be able to shoot numerous types of imagery, and shoot them well.

To a certain extent, this goes against much of what I’ve learned and lived by to this point in photography. Previously, I was of the mind that you should find a niche and devote yourself to mastering every aspect of that niche. Whether that be landscape, wedding, commercial or whatever–I still believe it is very important to find which type of imagery really makes your heart sing, and for which you have a great talent and skill. It’s important, however, to be able to step outside that comfort zone, and apply what you know to different types of imagery. Perhaps it’s to earn more money. Perhaps it’s to expand your creative horizons. Perhaps it’s to learn a new technical skill. Whatever the reason, commit yourself to branching out a bit and trying something new. Below are a couple of thoughts that may help you in crossing this new bridge.

1. Don’t forget the basics. While some techniques may be different with different types of imagery, the fundamentals are still the same.

A summer rainbow shines brightly over a grouping of veterans' graves at the Salt Lake City Cemetary.

A summer rainbow shines brightly over a grouping of veterans' graves at the Salt Lake City Cemetary.

2. Take what you have learned (or are particularly skilled at), and add it to what you hope to achieve. Whether you’re a master of composition, lighting, posing, filters, alternative angles or whatever–take that with you and apply it to this new area of photography. Just this morning, while shooting architectural work for a commercial client, I turned to many of my trusted landscape filters to control challenging exposures.

Fountain and Salt Lake City Temple at dusk.

Fountain and Salt Lake City Temple at dusk.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail. Because you will, and that’s all there is to it. Simply stated, it’s never fun to fall short of excellence, especially when you know you have what it takes in other areas of photography. But we all know you can’t win the game if you don’t play.

Rainbow trout in Brodin Ghost Net.

Rainbow trout in Brodin Ghost Net.

4. Be a sponge. Soak it alllllll up! Scour the internet. Ask questions to accomplished photogs. Read books. Shoot, shoot, shoot. There are so many resources at our fingertips these days–there really is no excuse not to be able to excel at something if you put your heart and mind to it.

Sunset over the Middle Provo River, UT

Sunset over the Middle Provo River, UT

5. Resist the urge to blame shortcomings on equipment. Strive to beat the odds regardless. Yes–there is always some piece of equipment we lust after. Sometimes, it’s a necessity. Most of the time, it’s a luxury. Most action photogs will tell you it’s necessary to have a camera that shoots 8 fps or more to capture action well. While I agree that it certainly helps to have a faster camera (as I found out this year), it’s entirely possible to nail the shot with less. I was fortunate to have several ski images published this past winter–all shot with a slower camera.

Lamson Litespeed Fly Fishing Reel

Lamson Litespeed Fly Fishing Reel

6. Be willing to take advice and apply it. ‘Nuff said.

Now go push your envelope. You will accomplish greatness in new and exciting ways. It just might give you that extra spark you’ve been needing…

Visual Storytelling

It’s good to be back in Utah after a five-day fishing road trip through Idaho and Montana. It was an adventure for sure–weather was gnarly at times and fishing was challenging. Weather, however, always makes for interesting photos. While I wasn’t on assignment for this trip, I often take advantage of work/play vacations and treat them as if I were shooting a story for a publication. Practice, after all, makes perfect.

If you’re interested in being an editorial photographer, start looking for opportunities to work on your visual storytelling. With a background in fine art scenic imagery, it took me a while to look for the smaller, mundane photos that carry weight and meaning. I had trained myself to find that one iconic image that people would want hung on their wall large and in charge. Telling the whole story requires commitment and dedication on the part of the photographer. Many times, the grittiest moments carry the most impact in telling a story. Sometimes the most mundane or boring images tell a big part of the story, and it is the photographer’s job to make that image visually engaging. Regardless, you must have your camera close at hand and your head in the game at all times. Challenge yourself this week to tell a story through your imagery–you’ll be surprised how much you grow as a photographer.

Below is the story in images from this past week. Hope you enjoy!

Nick Granato enjoys the view from his drift boat along the South Fork of the Snake River

Nick Granato enjoys the view from his drift boat along the South Fork of the Snake River

Rainbow trout from the South Fork with a bit of leftover hardware...

Rainbow trout from the South Fork with a bit of leftover hardware...

Fishermen hanging out in the drift boat on the South Fork of the Snake River

Fishermen hanging out in the drift boat on the South Fork of the Snake River

On the road.

On the road.

Nick Granato preps for a day of fishing at sunrise on some water in Montana

Nick Granato preps for a day of fishing at sunrise on water in Montana

Matt Warner dips a line in paradise. AKA Montana.

Matt Warner dips a line in paradise. AKA Montana.

Early light and fog spotlights cabins near West Yellowstone, MT

Early light and fog spotlights cabins near West Yellowstone, MT

Fishermen wait for the take on Montana water.

Fishermen wait for the take on Montana water.

A fine stretch of Montana water, captured with Singh Ray's Gold N Blue Polarizer

A fine stretch of Montana water, captured with Singh Ray's Gold N Blue Polarizer

Sunrise along the Beaverhead River

Sunrise along the Beaverhead River

Viva El Tacobus! Dillon, MT

Viva El Tacobus! Dillon, MT

Exiting the revered Tacobus with full stomachs in Dillon, MT

Exiting the revered Tacobus with full stomachs in Dillon, MT

Matt Warner and Nick Granato enjoy some time in the drift boat on the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner and Nick Granato enjoy some time in the drift boat on the Big Hole River, MT

Brook Trout caught on the Big Hole River, MT

Brook Trout caught on the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner tries his hand at some wood cutting along the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner tries his hand at some wood cutting along the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner replenishes the streamer selection along the Big Hole River, MT

Matt Warner replenishes the streamer selection along the Big Hole River, MT

A hefty brown trout caught by yours truly in the Big Hole River, MT

A hefty brown trout caught by yours truly on the Big Hole River, MT

Fishermen relax on a bench with beer in hand after a lengthy float on the Big Hole River, MT

Fishermen relax on a bench with beer in hand after a lengthy float on the Big Hole River, MT