What's My Genre and Where Do I Fit In?

I've been a photographer for a very long time and I find it hard to find one type of photography to focus on.  Some people say in order to be successful as a photographer you need focus.  Do one type of photography and be the best at that.  Put that out to the world with a consistent style and you will make a name for yourself.  I get that, consistency is king.  When you look at an Instagram account that has more than 10k followers chances are good that the images presented have a theme.  The majority of successful photographers are known for what they shoot.  When you hear the name Pete Souza you think Obama, Anne Geddes you think babies, Ansel Adams, Yosemite and the list goes on and on. My question is, is that a requirement for success?  

I love landscapes.  I've been an outdoorsy type person from a very young age.  I've been drawn to Yosemite and the rest of the sierras all of my life.  I've lived in Mammoth Lakes and Lake Tahoe.  I also believe I have made some beautiful landscape images over the years.

Yosemite Valley shot from the tunnel view parking area.  This obligatory location for every Yosemite photographer.

Yosemite Valley shot from the tunnel view parking area.  This obligatory location for every Yosemite photographer.

Bodega Bay California.  This is a spot called Bodega Head and is one of my favorite sunset locations.

Bodega Bay California.  This is a spot called Bodega Head and is one of my favorite sunset locations.

Found these trees along the Merced River in the Yosemite Valley.  

Found these trees along the Merced River in the Yosemite Valley.  

But there are other things I love to photograph as well, portrait photography being one.  There is a magic in the capture of someones essence.  A photograph of  a person is something, if done right, that can be treasured by future generations.  I believe it can be the best way to remember someone as the years and generations roll on.  I cherish the images that I have made of my two sons.  I have challenged myself to capture their true being, not just for me, but for them and their children and so on.  

I have also been able to create candid portraits that will be passed on for generations.

My fathers 80th birthday.

My fathers 80th birthday.

I have also tried my hand at model photography.  At first this was just a project to push the limits of my photographic abilities.  I wanted to practice my off camera flash skills as well as interacting with a subject in a different way.  I had never paid someone to be my subject but I have no regrets after seeing the results.  

In addition to the above I also love travel photography.  It is a dream to, some day, be able to travel the globe, gear in tow, and capture the essence of the places that I explore.  My latest adventure was to Vancouver BC.

So you tell me.  Where do I fit in?  Where should I focus my attention?  I love photography as a whole and can't imagine limiting myself to one genre.  I enjoy the constant challenges that different locations present.  I enjoy not knowing where my next adventure might come from.  I love working with people and capturing their being, their essence, their love for life.  I also love the outdoors and mountains and natures beauty.  So I'm torn.  For the time being I will continue on my path, shooting what arrives in front of my lens and hoping that I find a tribe or audience that appreciates me for what I am, a true lover of photography in all of its' forms.  

56mm f1.2 FujiFilm Lens Review

I'll start this review by stating that I don't know much about technical specifications.  You can read all that on the Fuji website.  What I do know is how to manipulate this lens to make, what I hope you think, are beautiful images.  I have been in the photography industry for close to 15 years and have been making images since the mid 70's.  After shooting film for many years I made the switch to digital in 2005.  Late last year I switched from all Nikon gear to Fuji and am so glad I made that change.

When I purchased my Fuji XT-1 there was a used 56mm f1.2 (Non APD) available.  The full price for this lens is $999 US but available, at the time of this post, for $799 from B&H.  I love portraiture and the price was right so I went for it.  I haven't regretted that decision, not for a minute.  I use this, almost exclusively, for portraits.  Over the years I have experimented with portraiture but never was very serious about it.  I'd taken the typical, standard, family images, but never felt excited by this type of photography.  That has changed.  Earlier this year I started working with two different models, Devi and Marie Jean.  What's nice is that I get to direct the process.  I choose the clothing, poses, surroundings and the lighting.  The only person I have to blame for poor images is myself.   The pressure is off when you don't have to please a client, catering to their needs and style constraints.  Don't get me wrong, I like to get paid for my work but it is nice to freely shoot whatever your heart desires.  

Marie Jean of modelmayhem.com

This lens is very basic compared to other Fuji lenses.  No WR (Weather Resistance) and no OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).  There is an aperture ring and a focus ring.  No window showing focul distance and no switches for other features.  56mm on a crop sensor is the same as an 84mm in full frame equivalent.  Fuji also sells a 50mm to 140mm zoom at f2.8 but I prefer the 1.2 aperture on the 56.  Playing with light is the goal of a photographer and the more f stops you have the more you get to play.    

Marie Jean of modelmayhem.com

In the studio, paired with a speedlight in a softbox, I was able to obtain clean, clear images with nice color.  I am used to using manual focus and having the focus peaking feature is a major perk of the Fuji system.  For the image below this came in very handy, having to focus past the sheer fabric.

Marie Jean  of modelmayhem.com

Marie Jean of modelmayhem.com

On a recent boudoir shoot this lens performed perfectly.  There was limited light but I felt the use of a flash would change the feel of the images.  I love working with natural light and the fast aperture allowed just that.

The room I was working in was small but I still had the room I needed to obtain the images I was looking for.  I do have to admit that the images from this lens are a little soft, but not so much so to be distracting.  I believe it adds to the images overall look and feel and is what makes this lens so special.  It also means that I don't have to spend a ton of time editing out imperfections.  

All of these images were edited in Lightroom with slight saturation, exposure, sharpness and contrast adjustments.  There was also some spot removal here and there.  These were also edited from the RAF or raw files.  

I usually hate images of myself.  I was actually able to capture this image, holding my iPad in my hand to activate the shutter and I actually like it.  

What I know for sure is that I have just begun to discover what this lens is capable of.  Portraiture has become a new favorite genre for me and I believe it is because of this amazing lens.  I have been pushing the limits of my photography and am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve in the near future.