Specialist Photographers Need Special Drive and Talent

In her post on war photography, Anh Stack says that when someone tells her that he wants to be a war photographer, she doesn’t encourage him. She’s completely right, of course. In fact, I’d go even further and make it clear that that’s just not something we at Black Star can do.

Sure, we send our photojournalists on those sort of assignments, when they have the right background. But no photographer can walk into an agency today and say, “I want to be a war photographer.” Nor can they say that they want to be a landscape photographer or an architectural photographer or any other kind of specialist photographer.

The best that photographers can do is say they have special talent … and then bring out the portfolio that proves it.

When that happens, Black Star can help them in a whole number of ways. They won’t have to solicit work. They won’t have to negotiate with clients, and they won’t have to go out and try to sell their skills — which is something a lot of photographers hate to do.

All they have to do is go out and take the pictures.

And the photos they’ll be taking will be very different from those they’d be shooting without an agency. A talented photographer representing himself in Austin, Texas, might get to work with the biggest clients in Austin. But a Black Star photographer based in Austin can work with the biggest clients around the world.

Black Star photographers do a much broader range of assignments for a much wider variety of companies and publications — and face much more interesting photographic challenges.

Does that mean they can’t also do the sort of specialist photography that they might prefer? No, they can do that as well. They might not get those assignments through us, but if they’re smart and can build a name for themselves, there’s no reason why they can’t combine the sort of professional jobs that we provide with the sort of personal work they love.

Michael Coyne’s post from Singapore, for example, was sent from the sort of corporate assignment that we do all the time. His post from China was sent while working on a book of his own about villages around the world.

There’s nothing wrong with a photographer knowing exactly where he wants to go with his talent. But photographers with specialized goals are always going to have to put in their own special efforts to get themselves there. Black Star’s goal is to supply photographers with a variety of high-quality assignments that challenge their creative and problem-solving abilities.

Tags: ((Ben Chapnick)), ((specialist photography)), ((war photographer)), ((landscape photographer)), ((architectural photographer))

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