Isn't it getting harder to survive as a photographer nowadays, when everybody can afford to buy buying a really good camera? The long answer to that question would goes something like "Well, let me put is this way; photography is about so much more than just having a good camera. It is about blah blah blah blah..."
The short answer goes exactly like this: “No it’s not harder, because most DSLR owners who think they should work as professional photographers don't have a god damn clue what they are doing. And, I do."
And, with the risk of teaching the competition what the secret is, I’ll reveal in the next paragraphs why specializing will make the difference between doing what you love 24 hours a day, or taking pictures of crying babies in a dark studio in a basement in your rainy hometown, for the rest of the days of your ever growing receding hairline. It doesn’t matter if you are a photographer, scientist, traveler or whatever, this following words goes for EVERYONE.
Let's agree (or actually, I´m just gonna tell you and you can agree if you want. I will continue to write anyhow ;) on a few bullet points that will prove that no one is gaining from being an all-round photographer:
Photography buyers want to work with people that are good at what they do.
Being a photographer isn't any harder today than it was before, just because more people have access to the technology you are using. Professional art directors and photo editors know that they will gain from paying a pro to shoot the next front page, instead of leaving it to uncle Stu Peed to mess it up.
It takes a certain amount of time to become and expert at something
Malcolm Gladwell says 10 000 hours, but lets not go to extremes. You have a specific limited amount of time to use every day and no matter what you do, you can't get more time every day. If you spend one fifth of your time each day on five totally different talents, it will take FIVE TIMES LONGER before you become good at ANY of them. Pick one, or two, and learn it great!
When buyers are looking for new talent, they are looking for someone with a specific skill
That means, if they are looking for someone that can shoot a series of black&white portraits in natural light and have to choose between the guy with *everything* on his website or the girl that have one hundred brilliant black&white head shots in her portfolio, they will choose the latter every time.
There will always be someone that are specialized. And that will make you lose every time. Specialize.
People need to understand what you actually do
No, "I photograph everything" won't do it. If you want someone to refer you to a colleague, you have to tell him how to present you; “He takes lifestyle photos with only natural light, and almost never uses pro models. That gives a documentary feeling and makes the pictures more believable”. It is something everyone can understand and relate to. When they hear someone in need for images to showcase their company in a natural way, you'll get a call the next day.
You should do what you love
I don't think anyone loves to shoot travels, horses, kids, documentary photos, products and rabbits equally. The more things you do "to pay the rent", the less of a happy life you'll have. Focus on what you love. You will learn those things much quicker and when you do, you are all set for a drunken-happy life!
With all that being said, I do not mean that you should say no to jobs that are outside your genre, at least not when you are starting out as a photographer. But don't MARKET yourself as the photographer that "can" shoot everything. The only thing you'll shoot is yourself, in the foot.
So, what are your speciality?