"Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them." —Madam C.J. Walker

Photography DiscussionDiscussion: What makes a photographer?

User avatar
davechinn
Mentoris Secundus
Mentoris Secundus
Posts: 1277
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:01 pm
Location: Ky
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: No, please do not edit my images
Contact:

Re: Discussion: What makes a photographer?

Post by davechinn » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:53 am

St3v3M wrote:I came across this today and wondered what you would think.
- In the age when everyone is taking photos, what makes a photographer?

"This question has been on my mind a lot, and I never came up with a straightforward answer. I’m sure I’m a person some photographers would scoff at and say the phrase above. On the other hand, I think the same for some camera owners who present themselves as photographers. Everyone’s taking photos today, that’s for sure. But who, among all these people, can call themselves a photographer?"

Is it about the camera, the skill, or is there more? S-


Interesting !!! This is a subject that could be a step down or up from "What is Street Photography", depending on how it may be interpreted, which would/could result in many a debate? I absolutely love what has been written here so far. The well descriptive approach to "What makes a photographer", would be debatable, maybe. I personally think there are more wannabe's, I mean, yes, one with a camera is/could be a photographer. On the other hand, just because I have a pocket full of wrenches, does that make me being a mechanic or just a wannabe?

Another debate would be What Defines an Amateur versus a Professional Photographer? Chuck used a term I have not heard before and is probably spot on, " Professionals do it for Money Amateurs do it for Love". BTW Chuck, that could be an excellent book title that you should write and I would buy. However, a professional can also do it for love as well, IMO. I found this to be interesting, https://digital-photography-school.com/ ... tographer/

Many years ago, I was a professional, only because it was my sole income, but I was not qualified. My lack of skills were terrible, not to mention the business side of it. At that time I wouldn't consider myself an amateur, just a wannabe. That was a Mission Impossible that actually self-destructed. Personally, I'm glad those years have gone by, because I can now look back and say "what was I thinking" only to discover the growth "from then to now" is my only positive conclusion, but I refuse to use a selfie stick !!!
Dave

User avatar
Charles Haacker
Mentoris Primus
Mentoris Primus
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 7:20 pm
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Social Media Opt-In: No
Editing option: No, please do not edit my images
Contact:

Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:50 pm

davechinn wrote:Interesting !!! This is a subject that could be a step down or up from "What is Street Photography", depending on how it may be interpreted, which would/could result in many a debate? I absolutely love what has been written here so far. The well descriptive approach to "What makes a photographer", would be debatable, maybe. I personally think there are more wannabe's, I mean, yes, one with a camera is/could be a photographer. On the other hand, just because I have a pocket full of wrenches, does that make me being a mechanic or just a wannabe?

Another debate would be What Defines an Amateur versus a Professional Photographer? Chuck used a term I have not heard before and is probably spot on, " Professionals do it for Money Amateurs do it for Love". BTW Chuck, that could be an excellent book title that you should write and I would buy. However, a professional can also do it for love as well, IMO. I found this to be interesting, https://digital-photography-school.com/ ... tographer/

Many years ago, I was a professional, only because it was my sole income, but I was not qualified. My lack of skills were terrible, not to mention the business side of it. At that time I wouldn't consider myself an amateur, just a wannabe. That was a Mission Impossible that actually self-destructed. Personally, I'm glad those years have gone by, because I can now look back and say "what was I thinking" only to discover the growth "from then to now" is my only positive conclusion, but I refuse to use a selfie stick !!!
Dave

Dave, thanks for that link! The first response I liked so much I copied it:
Michael Archambault • 3 years ago
I feel that there is a negative connotation associated with the world "amateur" and that is what people dislike. To many people, an "amateur" is usually someone who is not great at what they are doing. I hate being called an amateur photographer (it feels demeaning), but I also don't consider myself a professional due to the fact that I do not make a large income from what I do. I prefer "enthusiast", which is what many photographic companies call their more experienced customers.

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. I was an enthusiast long, long before even getting into school. I was self-taught in the darkroom, making all kinds of silly mistakes (wrong safelight color fogging prints, once pulled the cover off a tank instead of the fill cap and ruined two rolls of exposed film...). But I kept at it, eventually went to school on the GI Bill and my understanding bride, then turned pro because, well, I gots'a degree 'n'everthing, right? Hah! Exactly like you, Dave, I...
I was a professional, only because it was my sole income, but I was not qualified. My lack of skills were terrible, not to mention the business side of it.

Yet we persisted. I freelanced for some years while working part time in a camera store. We found a studio for sale and took the leap. My only goal was to make every job better than the last, and if I am any good at all it's because of 16 years of daily full-time practice. What sank us in the end was shameful lack of business sense.

But really I digress. Duck says: "If you use a camera to take a picture, you are a photographer. It doesn't matter if it's a dSLR, a pocket sized point and shoot or a cell phone camera. The base definition of a photographer is anyone who uses a camera to record an image."
Minnie says: "IMHO I am a photographer. So are all of you. I don't make money from it, or at least not much. But I love it, I work at it, I identify myself with it as a big part of who I am."
Steve says: "I think we are all photographers, but few let the artist within live out loud. S-"
Steve Webb says: "Anyone who makes photographs with a camera is a photographer. What separates them are the adjectives."

Aha! Maybe now we've got it! By the dictionary definition, a photographer is "a person who takes photographs, especially as a job." It doesn't say absolutely positively as a job or profession. It doesn't say you must have studied or hold some sort of certificate or degree. If someone shows you pictures they made on their cell phone, they were the photographer. Everything else is semantics.

(But I have already confessed to a certain bias regarding "Uncle Myron" at the Grand Canyon with thousands of bucks worth of gear that, to me anyway, he obviously has no idea how to use. BUT --- he is Enthusiastic! He is having a swell time! He may even be getting some pictures! So who am I to disdain him? That wasn't fair and I am ashamed! :oops: )
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

User avatar
Duck
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 2404
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:31 am
Location: Shelton, CT
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by Duck » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:18 pm

davechinn wrote:[...] On the other hand, just because I have a pocket full of wrenches, does that make me being a mechanic or just a wannabe?

But that's just it... you are a mechanic if you use those wrenches. I am by no means mechanically inclined. I have layman's knowledge of engine repair but I do own a Jeep and as such I occasionally need to get under the hood (or under the chassis, as in my case). I own a good many variety of tools to work on my vehicle and when push comes to shove, I have a good friend I can count on to help. I do not call myself a mechanic but I become one at the moment I pick up those tools to work on my vehicle. So by that definition, someone who picks up a camera to take a photo is a photographer. Right now I am a writer as I am putting a series of words into logical order that gives comprehension to my thoughts in order to make communication between us easy. I am by no means a professional writer.

I guess what I'm saying is that it involves more than the simple action but the intent and how one self-describes that intent. As you, and others, have stated, it's how we see ourselves and how we choose to define ourselves to others.
"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."
Image ImageImageImageImage

User avatar
Duck
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 2404
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:31 am
Location: Shelton, CT
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by Duck » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:40 pm

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.

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.
"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."
Image ImageImageImageImage

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4044
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:55 pm

davechinn wrote:Interesting !!! This is a subject that could be a step down or up from "What is Street Photography", depending on how it may be interpreted, which would/could result in many a debate? I absolutely love what has been written here so far. The well descriptive approach to "What makes a photographer", would be debatable, maybe. I personally think there are more wannabe's, I mean, yes, one with a camera is/could be a photographer. On the other hand, just because I have a pocket full of wrenches, does that make me being a mechanic or just a wannabe?
...

I love the visual of a person with a pocket full of wrenches, it's spot on, and really emphasizes the idea that the tool does not make the photographer.

I sometimes think about the person with too much money who buys a Harley and promptly dumps it on the way out the driveway, or the one who buys the forty-five foot motorhome only to realize most national parks can't handle a vehicle that long, or of course the ones who walk into a camera store and buy the best they have to offer but never take it out of Auto and only take a hand full of shots before putting it on the shelf to collect dust.

I want to say they are a photographer, but only by name, so I think there's more to this than just owning a camera. Anyone with money can buy one, and with cell phones, most have one whether they use it or not. This is about intent then, the intent to use the camera to make something beautiful. I'm sure there's more, but that's what the debate is about and it's been interesting so far. Thank you everyone! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4044
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:01 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:...
But really I digress. Duck says: "If you use a camera to take a picture, you are a photographer. It doesn't matter if it's a dSLR, a pocket sized point and shoot or a cell phone camera. The base definition of a photographer is anyone who uses a camera to record an image."
Minnie says: "IMHO I am a photographer. So are all of you. I don't make money from it, or at least not much. But I love it, I work at it, I identify myself with it as a big part of who I am."
Steve says: "I think we are all photographers, but few let the artist within live out loud. S-"
Steve Webb says: "Anyone who makes photographs with a camera is a photographer. What separates them are the adjectives."

Aha! Maybe now we've got it! By the dictionary definition, a photographer is "a person who takes photographs, especially as a job." It doesn't say absolutely positively as a job or profession. It doesn't say you must have studied or hold some sort of certificate or degree. If someone shows you pictures they made on their cell phone, they were the photographer. Everything else is semantics.
...

"Everything else is semantics."
- Or is it?
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4044
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:05 pm

Duck wrote:...
I guess what I'm saying is that it involves more than the simple action but the intent and how one self-describes that intent. As you, and others, have stated, it's how we see ourselves and how we choose to define ourselves to others.

I profess to not seeing this while replying minutes ago and agree intent is a key to this discussion. S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4044
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:06 pm

Duck wrote:...
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.

IKWYM! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

User avatar
Charles Haacker
Mentoris Primus
Mentoris Primus
Posts: 1782
Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 7:20 pm
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Social Media Opt-In: No
Editing option: No, please do not edit my images
Contact:

Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:25 pm

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. 8~

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.)
Friends call me Chuck. :photo: This link takes you to my Flickr albums. Please click on any album to scroll through it.
(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

User avatar
St3v3M
Key Founding Member
Key Founding Member
Posts: 4044
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:02 am
Location: 35,000 feet
Social Media Opt-In: Yes
Editing option: Yes, feel free to edit my image
Contact:

Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:42 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:... (Bitter much?) ...

I laughed when I read this, but the rest of it got me to thinking about the black and white line we seemed to have made for ourselves.

There seems to be this idea that you're either a professional or not, you either make a full-time living off this profession or not. I wonder though what's stopping us from making a little extra money doing what we love even if it isn't a full-time career. I wonder then what's stopping us from doing more other than us?

I want to challenge to everyone: make a list of the reasons you can't be a professional then make another countering every reason why not.

Get out there and be who you were meant to be! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest