I recently heard this term and I began to wonder what it meant. If googled it relates to “The competent Man” a character type found within story telling. These characters have a wide range of abilities and knowledge.
Could you apply this to photography? I have heard on a number of occasions to be specific or to specialise. While I understand the concept and I admire many specialist photographers I don’t believe this has to apply to everyone. I believe somebody like Art Wolfe is a great example of this. He loves photography, if you visit his website (https://artwolfe.com/) there is Landscape, portraiture, nature, abstract photography, all sorts. You may not like everything he shoots but you get the distinct impression he really likes taking photos and he is very good at it.
Some people find comfort in specialisation. For me though I think my comfort comes from childish curiosity about the world around me and how I can harness that to fuel my photography. If you asked me what I like to photograph the most? I would reply without hesitation that it is Landscape photography. I love the peace and solitude found in nature and the methodical process to finding a photograph. Everything slows down and when done correctly feels like you are in a zen like or meditative state. You begin to appreciate the Earth, it’s power and how small you really are. I feel humbled to be surrounded by its beauty, diversity, its strength and its peace. I hope that is something that comes through in my photography.
Like most people however I cannot always get to the places I love being in easily. This does not stop me from taking photos though. I want to fuel my curiosity and creativity. Can I apply techniques I learn taking landscapes and apply them to street photography. Will studying street photography help take better portraiture? Is Cityscape and Landscape photography a similar style? It goes on and on constantly learning. Ultimately can you apply what you have learned in other genres to the style of photography that pleases you the most and take a better photo? I firmly believe for me that the answer is yes it can and does. Never stop being curious and don’t be afraid to try something new it might lead you down a path no one has traveled before. Maybe next time you are itching to go and explore a beautiful landscape but cannot just take a walk around where you live you might find something you have never seen before.
To be honest I am not a fan of the term “Specialisation is for insects”. I think it sounds negative in someway to the people that pursue mastery of something and to insects (insects are incredible creatures)! Many regard the Samurai sword or Katana as a perfect blade. When you see the dedication and understanding that goes in to the making of one you can understand why. However I bet the Japanese sword-smiths of old took teachings and refinement from many different areas and over many years to arrive at the process that we now know that creates a Katana blade. If you wanted to specialise in something maybe it could be being yourself in what ever it is you love doing. You are unique after all.
I believe a better term to live by is “Be like water”. There will be more posts on its meaning and the person who said it (if you don’t know already) in the future.
Until then though - Thank you very much for reading.