Charles Haacker wrote:[...] I think "enthusiast" is a great term to apply to the many, many amateurs (lovers of whatever) who have a real dedication to whatever hobby they pursue.
Duck wrote:In theory it would be nice if everyone used the proper adjectives to qualify the noun but it is so much easier to say, "I am a photographer," than to try to qualify it with something that, a. embodies the type and quality of photography they do and, b. is understood as such to the person listening.
If there is one thing made very clear in today's age of texting is that people are linguistically lazy. IYKWIM. K?
That's why we have discussions about properly wording critiques so as to get our messages across without sounding like trolls or snobs or haters or... you get the drift.
Add to that the very B R O A D spectrum of disciplines that utilize photography and it you can easily understand why it is difficult to pigeonhole an entire spectrum of usage into a single descriptive. Is the security guard operating the "eye in the sky" cameras at the casino to be labeled a photographer? Or the technician using the infrared camera to check for heat leaks on the assembly line? or the surgeon using the endoscopic camera to do non invasive surgery? How about the X-ray tech who provided the surgeon with those awesome images (ON FILM!) to the surgeon? Hell, that X-ray tech had to use wet chemicals to develop that film. Surely that's a mark of a professional photographer.
Arguably, we in the 'industry' have traditionally narrowed this vast array of camera users to disqualify those who do not use a camera in the traditional manner. The common term of photographer has come to mean anyone who uses a commercially available photographic device to capture their surroundings in an artistic or visually appealing manner. There is where the distinctions stop and it is there that the argument starts. So, in a sense, we (collectively) did it to ourselves because we are linguistically lazy.
I had to look up "IYKWIM. K?" I do
know what you mean, but I also attribute some of it to impatience, and maybe a desire not to overdevelop the thumbs.
I just tried to find "photographer" on various lists of jobs not requiring a 4-year (or even a 2-year) degree. Some list 35 or 50 different jobs, some paying $50 grand a year. "Photographer" is not one of them. I graduated with my little AS in photography (with Highest Honors I might tootle) in 1973. That was when I discovered I had been carefully trained in a profession that simply no longer existed.
My dad, born in 1916, was a proud high school grad at a time when that was really all you needed. He went to work for Acme Newspictures as a full time photographer. Acme sent him to the war in Europe where he was a distinguished correspondent. When he came back he and a few other Acme veterans split off and formed their own outfit, Camera Associates. Dad died in 1952 when I was 10 but Camera Associates continued long past him. Aspiring photographers could go to places like Acme or Camera Associates or GM or the gas company to find good jobs. Many if not most had cut their teeth on the high school yearbook team and that was all the training they had, or needed. Everybody started in the lab and worked up.
Until right about 1970, when the Big Outfits suddenly realized, Hey, we don' gotta pay these people benefits and stuff! Lay 'em all off, close the departments, and farm the work out to the same guys as freelancers! Win-Win! They get paid, we don' gotta pay their health care and stuff. (Well, it'sa win for the Big Outfit, not so much for the freelancer who is out of pocket for everything, including having to pay into Social Security TWICE: once as employee, and again as employ-ER!)
That was where I found myself in 1973, after having sponged off my wife and blown my GI Bill being trained for a job that no longer existed. (Bitter much?)
The sense that I have today, although I have not really looked closely, is that indeed, everyone is a photographer,
and the good
ones, with real skills (Duck) can make a living doing it out of a private home, and many, many do. On Facebook, Instagram, there are thousands (!!) of photographers hawking their skills as wedding photographers, baby photographers, family photographers, even a few (Duck) Small Product photographers, which is a difficult skill and I would know. I honestly do not know if the current climate is good or bad. The market is certainly saturated. The small town storefront photographer is a true rarity, vanishing as each dies and no one wants to take over. If I were starting today I would promote myself on line and work pretty much entirely in the field. I'm very much an available dark geek but I might spring for some lights, not too much. I'd probably do PR since I was always good at it and still am, except now I do it strictly as a volunteer. (By the way, I am not taking bread out of the mouths of some "real" photographer's family: if I didn't do the jobs to the best of my skill level, a staffer with a smartphone would. No way do these nonprofits have the wherewithal to $pend money for photography.)