Commercial Photographers In Pittsburgh PA Are Usually Generalists

Portrait of Dr. Masatoshi Nei, shot for Discover Magazine

Pittsburgh Photography Portrait of Dr. Masatoshi Nei, shot for Discover Magazine

Commercial Photographers In Pittsburgh PA are Usually Generalists

Should you be a generalist of a specialist?

When you began thinking abut becoming a professional photographer, chances are that you thought about becoming a specific type of a professional photographer, a wedding photographer, a sports photographer, maybe a fashion or food photographer, but usually you’ve thought about being a specialist photographer.  Rarely do people think about being a generalist professional photographer, if they even know what this is, but usually, that’s what you end up doing.  The truth is, that most photographers in Pittsburgh PA, or in Cleveland or Nashville, any mid sized city really, you’re going to need to be a generalist at one poring in your career anyway.

A Novice Professional needs to take any job that comes along in order to make the money necessary to survive.

It’s a fact that most professional photographers end up being self employed.  Not all are, of course, but I would say that MOST are or will be at some point in their career.  Self-employed photographers need a few things to survive.  They need to purchase the necessary equipment to be a photographer.  They’ll need to build a client base that will hire them over and over again, and they need to build their skills as a photographer.  In other words, they’ll need to take any type of photography assignment that comes along, that they feel comfortable with taking on.  They’ll need to be a generalist in order to survive.

Markets like Pittsburgh PA are just too small for most specialists to survive.

Do you know just how many consumers of fashion photography there are in a city the size of Pittsburgh PA?  I’m not really sure, but I think you can count the number on one hand.  Sure, there might be a boutique clothing shop somewhere in town that needs a photo once a year and chances are that they hire their wife’s sister to take the photo or maybe a wedding guy on the corner.  It’s the same with many other specialties like food, architecture, or sports photography. The fact is that the population density of small cities like Pittsburgh PA, just will not support too many specialists, but the market is just about perfect for a generalist.

Going National

There are exceptions to photographers making it as a specialist in a small city and usually the ones that make it are what I call “the 5%”.  These scarce photographers are so talented and so good at what they do, that they attract a national clientele. They a few and far between.  I should call them the 1%.  They are the exception, but they do exist and chances are, you aren’t one of them… :o)  I plan on talking about “going national” in another post, but for now, lets talk about being a generalist photographer in Pittsburgh PA.

Advantages of being a generalist.

Personally, I like being a generalist. Sure, I don’t shoot weddings, family portraits, or pet photos, but I don’t think less of photographers that do… These are the big advantages of being a generalist.

Variety is the spice of life

Most jobs tend to get boring over time, but a generalist commercial photographers has it good in that regard.  Basically, I’m sent into interesting locations for a day or two and in the end, I get to go home.  These are some of the things I’ve been asked to do and places I’ve been ask to shoot;

I’ve shot from bother helicopters and airplanes.  I’ve been in operating rooms (during operations), in steal mills, in a bunch of different factories, in coal mines and out west, shooting in national parks.  I’ve photographed beautiful models and unfortunate handicapped children.  In other words, I’ve been to many places and seen many things I wouldn’t have, if I would of been a specialist.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love being a generalist. (To some. I’m a specialist, but that’s another blog post)

commercial photography layout 2

The National magazine shot, done by a photographer in Pittsburgh PA.

The photos on this post are ones that I’ve taken recently for Discover Magazine.  They found me on the internet and liked my web site and gave me a call.  It was an interesting assignment.  I travels up to Penn state to photograph a professor there for an article they were doing.  I never talked with the Art Director, but with an art buyer, who was really nice.  I wad sent layouts and we discussed an idea that the art director had about the shot.  I’ve attached the layouts to show you an example of the ways Art Directors communicate.  This may look a little rough to you, but I think they’re perfect.  They communicate to me where the type and headlines may go and yet they’re loose enough to allow me some artistic freedom.

The location for the shot was a greenhouse where the subject did a lot of his experiments. The Art Director wanted me to have plants in the foreground and hang a white seamless behind subject and plants.  This was easier said than done.  In the end, I did it and the shot looked great, but the greenhouse was a lot tighter than I had hoped for…

As an option, I decided to shoot in another area of the greenhouse and in the end, they ended up going with a shot from that location.  As often happens, my favorite shots never made the magazine, but hey, the check cleared… :o)

Here’s another shot I like from the shoot.

Pittsburgh Portrait Photography of Dr. Masatoshi Nei
Photographic Portrait of Dr. Masatoshi Nei, shot for Discover Magazine
And here’s what they ended up using…
Pittsburgh PA Photographers

commercial photography layout 1


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