Transferable Skills between Photography Genres

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Thomas
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#1
For five years I shot almost exclusively landscapes, however recently I have been spending quite a bit of time with other genres of photography including product, portraiture and wedding. This has lead me to think about which skills are transferable within each genre of photography and ask if a background in one sets you up well for another? My own observations have been that photographing landscapes has set me up to be quite happy with composition in most other genres I have tried, however I have had to devote more time to developing and learning other skills needed i.e camera lighting and instructing clients.

Does a background in one genre set you up well for another? Or does it just come down to the individual? Are some transferable skills more important than others? Does say a fashion photographers find it an easy transition to weddings or a highly skilled sports shooter have acquire the reaction skills to be able to be good at street photography? Not expecting answers to all of these, just some things to mull over!
 
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Richard
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#2
Interesting question. I am trying to think of photographers that have inspired me (Cartier-Bresson, Karsh, Arbus, Erwitt to name a few) and reach the conclusion that they showed talent in a particular genre for most, if not all, of their careers. Technically speaking I'm sure Karsh could have taken decent landscapes and Cartier-Bresson decent portraits but they chose a means of expression that suited their personality more than their technical know-how.
 

simon ess

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#3
I firmly believe that all learning and all skills are transferable across all aspects of life.
 
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#4
Apart from using a camera which is needed for all areas I would say some are transferable most are not, weddings and product, chalk and cheese, landscape to products again totally different skill set, fashion to landscape not much in terms of similarity and so on.
 

simon ess

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#5
I would say some are transferable most are not, weddings and product, chalk and cheese, landscape to products again totally different skill set, fashion to landscape not much in terms of similarity and so on.
I shall respectfully inform you that I couldn't possibly disagree more.

Light, form, composition, edge quality, colour theory, story, tone, etc. etc.
 
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#6
I reckon portrait, pet, macro and even event have a lot of transferable skills with composition and techniques/settings...you can apply similar to woodland landscape photography too. I started with landscape and that’s still my main passion but because of my job as a videographer/event photographer I feel I can shoot anything now, so many transferable skills
 
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Phil
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#7
I shall respectfully inform you that I couldn't possibly disagree more.

Light, form, composition, edge quality, colour theory, story, tone, etc. etc.
This^
When 'landscape photographers' claim to have no transferrable skills, it is usually because they've followed others without understanding 'why'. They just step out at golden hour to recreate others images, without understanding why they did that, the light and the composition means nowt to em, they're just mimicking.

If they understood what made their images successful then they could transfer those skills.
 
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Toni
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#8
In general photographic skills should be very transferable, but mechanical and organisational skills will require development. So a landscaper will know about subject isolation but will have to learn how to pan following a vehicle or runner. Their compositional skills should be good for weddings but they'll need to learn how to manoeuvre and pose people. Etc.
 
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#9
In general photographic skills should be very transferable, but mechanical and organisational skills will require development. So a landscaper will know about subject isolation but will have to learn how to pan following a vehicle or runner. Their compositional skills should be good for weddings but they'll need to learn how to manoeuvre and pose people. Etc.
Agreed, and added to your examples, the photographer would need to learn new camera skills in terms of basic shooting, shutter speed, etc, as well as lighting setups for flash etc, and on top of that the whole personal interaction and speed things are done would be alien so in essence there isn’t much really transferred. Of course the closer the area of photography the easier the transition, wedding to event for example.
 
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#10
For five years I shot almost exclusively landscapes, however recently I have been spending quite a bit of time with other genres of photography including product, portraiture and wedding. This has lead me to think about which skills are transferable within each genre of photography and ask if a background in one sets you up well for another? My own observations have been that photographing landscapes has set me up to be quite happy with composition in most other genres I have tried, however I have had to devote more time to developing and learning other skills needed i.e camera lighting and instructing clients.

Does a background in one genre set you up well for another? Or does it just come down to the individual? Are some transferable skills more important than others? Does say a fashion photographers find it an easy transition to weddings or a highly skilled sports shooter have acquire the reaction skills to be able to be good at street photography? Not expecting answers to all of these, just some things to mull over!

Surely our knowledge, skills, and experience in handling a camera is transferable between all genres? This would be the most important thing, no point in doing photography having only half a knowledge on how to use a camera, just because you prefer to learn only the few controls that you usually use for one set of genre, but don't learn other controls which you think is more used for other set of genre.

Kinda like the military learning everything about their assault rifle, like learning how to use both semi-auto and full-auto, because they may use the same gun in different fields, also use the same weapon inside or outside. Their skills with their weapons are transferable between different settings.
 
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#11
To add to some of the above I find that skills learnt for wildlife can help with sport and vice versa.
 
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Terry
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#12
Professional Photographers gain various sets of skills. and different specialisations call for them in very different proportions.
Technical and Camera skills, including exposure, focus, lens choice etc etc
Lighting skills day light, studio light and flash
Compositional skills including posing, point of view and selection, and artistic elements.
#People skills including people management and customer skills
#Business skills, Day to day organisation, Financial, marketing and communication, web presence.
Processing and Presentation skills the ability to satisfy clients with exemplary out put that meets their brief in every way.

# of these skills, the ones marked with an # are the most crucial
a poor photographer can run an extremely successful Business. as people with the necessary technical skills are easy and cheap to hire.
However if a superb photographer can not master both his business and people skills he is doomed to fail.
 
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tomr0b
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Thomas
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#14
Was really nice to see so many replies on this thread after over a month of nothing!

I tend to agree that the basic principles of photography are transferable so a photographer that is highly competent in one are will still have a far greater understanding of an unfamiliar area than someone who is fairly new to photography. To get to a similar level of ability in both genres though, I think requires the repeated practice

It could be similarly applied to sports where say a pro tennis player would have the advantage of physical fitness, hand eye coordination and experience in high end competition so would likely beat 90% of the population in golf. I'm sure this analogy isn't completely solid but you get the idea.

I think @ancient_mariner's comment summed it up quite nicely.
 
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Fi
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#15
I'd say that the actual skills themselves are going to be of variable use - obviously the basic handling of the camera is transferrable across all genres but specific skills are going to lend themselves to a limited number of genres. However, what should be transferrable across all is a good grasp of what you are trying to achieve and why. Knowledge / experience in one area is going to surely give you a head start in another.
 
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Phil
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#16
I'd say that the actual skills themselves are going to be of variable use - obviously the basic handling of the camera is transferrable across all genres but specific skills are going to lend themselves to a limited number of genres. However, what should be transferrable across all is a good grasp of what you are trying to achieve and why. Knowledge / experience in one area is going to surely give you a head start in another.
This^
Camera skills are about 10% of photography (if that), understanding what makes a great image (light and composition) is about 50%. But what makes a successful image in any genre is empathy / understanding / the subject. And that's not transferrable at all. People skills, a love of the outdoors, an interest in the natural world, a fascination for steam trains, sports etc are personal attributes - not something you just pick up.
 
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Garry Edwards
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#17
Professional Photographers gain various sets of skills. and different specialisations call for them in very different proportions.
Technical and Camera skills, including exposure, focus, lens choice etc etc
Lighting skills day light, studio light and flash
Compositional skills including posing, point of view and selection, and artistic elements.
#People skills including people management and customer skills
#Business skills, Day to day organisation, Financial, marketing and communication, web presence.
Processing and Presentation skills the ability to satisfy clients with exemplary out put that meets their brief in every way.

# of these skills, the ones marked with an # are the most crucial
a poor photographer can run an extremely successful Business. as people with the necessary technical skills are easy and cheap to hire.
However if a superb photographer can not master both his business and people skills he is doomed to fail.
It's complicated. Basically I agree with Terry (when we aren't talking about politics:) ).Technical and compositional skills are of course transferable, but although (for example) landscape photographers know how to use ambient light well, studio photographers have to know how to create light, which is a very different skillset.

Sports photographers and wedding photographers probably have very different skills, but many of the specialist product photographers I know don't have the people skills needed for most of the types of photography that involve people - portraits, weddings, events and so on. I sort of know a very talented product photographer who can't string two words together, he goes to my local pub and he's technically excellent - he just doesn't get on with people . . .

Fashion photographers have the right skills for weddings, but it doesn't follow that wedding photographers could do high end fashion.
 
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wayne clarke
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#18
The camera skills will transfer, but theres a massive difference between shooting say landscapes and a wedding. Landscapes you wait for the right light, wedding you have to shoot whatever. Landscapes you shoot what you like, wedding you shoot what the bride wants. Landscape you take your time setting up and have nobody else to worry about, weddings it's more man managment that photography, and your usually pressed for time.
Yes there is a crossover but theres also a new skillset to learn..
 
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