How I Found My Niche as a Photographer/Artist


From the moment a Brownie camera was put in my hands, I was hooked on photography.  Fell in love immediately. What child would not want to see the world through an apparatus that an 8-year-old could operate?  Even before the Brownie, I began circumscribing my world with a pencil.  Looking at a blank sheet of paper was not daunting to my young self; it was liberating.  I could create a universe of my own!

The thing about photography/art for many young people is that there is so much to capture, to draw, to photograph.  It was thrilling to create images of my vision. And so I drew, painted, photographed, collaged, inked everything I could: landscape, architecture, people, flowers, still life.  All of what I saw was fascinating to interpret as well as to transcribe.

Courtesy Ellen Fisch

Courtesy Ellen Fisch

My other great passion was and still is architecture. It is wonderful to look at a structure and contemplate the artistry that went into its realization. Spying a building, I considered (and still do) the architecture, construction, design, materials, ornamentation, its history and possibly its population. Who lived there and what did they do? I began to study architectural components at a very early age.  But I also knew from the beginning of my fascination with architecture that I did not want to build or architect a building.  I simply was and am an admirer.

Eureka!

However, the Eureka moment of turning to architectural photography as a profession did not come to me until it was time to choose a profession.  I laid the foundation for my future as a commercial architectural photographer and architectural art photographer circuitously while exploring the many opportunities in my field.  I worked as an art photographer by photographing paintings and drawings for books while I was a student.  This required a certain skill set.  Concurrently I also photographed for the tourism industry.  Another group of capabilities was acquired.  While I was pursuing freelance photography gigs, I worked by day as a structural draftsman for several years, and retouched other photographers’ photos on weekends.

And also, in my free time, I studied painting and drawing to eventually have a parallel career as a commissioned painter.  The accumulation of all these honed aptitudes came together to provide a knowledge base for my profession as an architectural photographer.

‘What Are You Known For?’

Another impetus to select the professional path I chose was provided early on by my art gallery the owner of which asked me, “What are you known for?  Photographing flowers, paintings, landscape, architecture?  Painting pictures? What do you want people to recognize your art as?”  That gave me pause. What did I want to be associated with as a photographer?  Furthermore, my publisher (of poster art) requested that my photographs be uniquely my photographs depicting my vision.  And so I focused on my passion for architecture. The subject offered me all that I wanted and it captivated my imagination again and again.  Eventually, I divided my architectural photography into two areas: commercial and fine art.

To further carve my own niche as a photographer, I decided to work in color for my commercial clients (unless they requested B&W) and in sepia and black and white to distinguish myself in architectural art photography.  The journey has been a wonderful one, filled with new and productive experiences.  The accumulation of insights on which my photography is based came from many sources that combined to create my niche as a photographer: One that motivates me to grow and improve my craft every day.


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