Should You Follow Trends or Photograph What You Love?

With the rise of social media, photography trends are more prominent than ever. Should you follow them or just photograph what you want? This great video essay discusses the balance between the two. 

Coming to you from Kayleigh June, this thoughtful video essay discusses the balance between chasing trends and photographing what you love. Of course, if you are a hobbyist, the answer is easy: photograph whatever makes you happy. On the other hand, if you are a professional, the question is a bit more complicated. Any successful professional will tell you of the importance of personal projects and how these are often what attract potential clients, as they show off your unique style and creative potential. On the other hand, certain genres (wedding photography being a particularly prominent example) have strong trends that ebb and flow over time, and clients are often in tune with these and will want you to create work that falls in line with them. A lot of the time, it is a balance between infusing your work with your own style and being able to remain fluid enough to adjust to the needs and desires of individual clients. Check out the video above for June's full thoughts. 

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Tom Reichner's picture

Alex Cooke asked,

"Should You Follow Trends or Photograph What You Love?"

My answer is, "both!"

Fortunately, this does not have to be an either / or situation. There is nothing that makes either way of shooting exclusive of the other.

I photograph wildlife professionally. By that I mean that a significant portion of my annual income comes from selling my wildlife images as stock.

Whilst afield, I go for shooting what I love; the kinds of photos that I like, and the species that I enjoy. But when I'm out there pursuing the kinds of species and pics that I love, other opportunities often present themselves, and when something marketable pops up in front of me, I will spend time taking marketable images.

Or, when shooting a bird or a mammal the way I like to, I will take a few minutes out to shoot compositions that will work well as stock images, such as composing images with a lot of negative space, so that there is room for copy. Then, after capturing a few such images, I will go back to composing for myself.

Fortunately for me, a lot of what I love just happens to sell well, so I am not at odds with this decision very often. Whitetail Deer are one of my favorite animals in all the world, and they just happen to be huge income-producers, due to the very robust deer hunting industry.

Shooting what I love and shooting what sells ..... those things go hand-in-hand so much that they're pretty much inseparable. Glad I don't have to decide on one, at the expense of the other.

Bob McClenahan's picture

Clients want the same thing they see on Instagram. I have to give them what they want first. If there's time or opportunity, then I'll shoot some stuff in my style.