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Photography DiscussionDiscussion: What makes a photographer?

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Duck
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Re: Discussion: What makes a photographer?

Post by Duck » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:57 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:[...] 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. [...]

Some interesting points. So, if I understand your line of thought; the oversaturation of the industry has led to a less diversified business structure. One catering to niche products and services in order to both stay relevant and successful in business. This, in turn, has made the term photographer (in the archaic sense) obsolete since that classic view of the photographer used to be much narrowly defined.

I agree. Back in the day being a photographer required a certain skill set far beyond having a good eye for composition, regardless of how that knowledge was gained. I too remember my time in the darkroom developing films and getting them printed. But I came in at a time of Fotomats and instamatic cameras. The beginning of the dilution of the term. With today's technology the ability to make great photos has increased while the need for technical ability has decreased. It's definitely a double edged sword. Your point is, I feel, at the root of the problem. The language hasn't been modified (or compartmentalized) to accommodate the diversification of jobs. Instead we are just shoving more into an already tight compartment.
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:59 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:... (Bitter much?) ...
St3v3M wrote: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-

I don't feel there is one single solitary thing stopping anyone from making a little extra dough from photography. I signed into Shutterstock and have a handful of pictures up, but no bites. I should add more but...

No, you do not have to be full time! But even part time, if you make any amount you have to pay attention to business laws and regulations, and you have to be aware of the tax man. I think every state and municipality may have their own labyrinth of laws, but most places you need a business license, and if you operate without one you are on shaky legal ground. You do need to keep track of income and pay tax on it, local, state, and federal. When we were in business we also had to pay our Social Security twice over for each of us, because we were self-employed. I don't know the laws now, there may have been changes, but the key thing is that you can get into trouble, even serious (as in prison) trouble for not doing so.

You need to be insured. Your equipment must be insured. We were such loonies --- we were never able to keep all the balls in the air so when my two Nikon F2's were stolen I was, errrm, "between insurance?" I had to replace those cameras out of pocket.

You need liability insurance. If you shoot a job and drop it on its head (think wedding) it is pretty much a given that you will be sued. If you have a battery blow up and set fire to the bride's gown, it is pretty much a given that you will be sued. :doh: :wall:

These are not reasons why you should not turn pro, but they are cautions. If you turn pro it is a paradigm shift. On the other hand, even as a volunteer, every time I go out I may risk some liability or other, and no, I don't have a thin dime in insurance, so there y'go. :|
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All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

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Post by Duck » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:00 pm

St3v3M wrote: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.

I can't do this task as I have more reasons to become one than not... :D
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:06 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:...
These are not reasons why you should not turn pro, but they are cautions. If you turn pro it is a paradigm shift. On the other hand, even as a volunteer, every time I go out I may risk some liability or other, and no, I don't have a thin dime in insurance, so there y'go. :|

I'm proud to say you beat me to it. There's a fine line between a few buck and what the IRS considers legal so there's that, but like you said we can all volunteer and give our services to those in need, at least until we decide to take it a step further and make it official. Until then there are some wonderful charities that need help, or simply find those in need in your area and make something special for them. An emailed print costs us nothing but our time! S-
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:07 pm

Duck wrote:
St3v3M wrote: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.

I can't do this task as I have more reasons to become one than not... :D

We are all here to support you any way we can! S-
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Post by Charles Haacker » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:22 pm

Charles Haacker wrote:[...] 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. [...]
Duck wrote:Some interesting points. So, if I understand your line of thought; the oversaturation of the industry has led to a less diversified business structure. One catering to niche products and services in order to both stay relevant and successful in business. This, in turn, has made the term photographer (in the archaic sense) obsolete since that classic view of the photographer used to be much narrowly defined.

I agree. Back in the day being a photographer required a certain skill set far beyond having a good eye for composition, regardless of how that knowledge was gained. I too remember my time in the darkroom developing films and getting them printed. But I came in at a time of Fotomats and instamatic cameras. The beginning of the dilution of the term. With today's technology the ability to make great photos has increased while the need for technical ability has decreased. It's definitely a double edged sword. Your point is, I feel, at the root of the problem. The language hasn't been modified (or compartmentalized) to accommodate the diversification of jobs. Instead we are just shoving more into an already tight compartment.
With today's technology the ability to make great photos has increased while the need for technical ability has decreased.

That line in particular resonates strongly! And, perhaps curiously, it doesn't disturb me as much as you might expect. I'm certain that that is because I am no longer in the arena. I don't have to compete. I'm not threatened by the exponential explosion of do-it-all-for-you cameras in the last 15 years since the first camera in a phone. Recent figures say that 95% of Americans carry a cell phone, and of those nearly 80% are smart phones, and so far as I know you can't buy a smart phone without a camera. The manufacturers are also advancing the camera phone technology as rapidly as possible, trying to make a phone camera perform like a full-frame DSLR, and they are doing it!

You may recall a Canon TV commercial, oh, probably 30 years ago. The camera was heavily automated and was shown being used by a world-renowned National Geographic photographer hunting down leopards and stuff. The tagline was, "You may not have my eye but now you can have my camera." So maybe that's key: You May Not Have My EYE... But with pretty much everyone schlepping a pretty sophisticated camera in their back pocket, statistically some of them have to have THE EYE. I don't know what percentage, but THE EYE is probably the key thing that separates PHOTOGRAPHERS from photographers. N'est pas? :)
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All the great photographers use cameras! No, really. :|

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Post by davechinn » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:42 pm

Duck wrote:
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.



You are absolutely correct with my mechanic comments. That was probably not a good scenario to use. You are correct again, (about what makes a photographer) however my point was, once the shutter is pressed then that individual is suddenly a photographer? In one sense, yes, but say its a 5 year old. I just cannot accept those terms. I suppose another issue I have is, most everyone has a cell phone which makes everyone a photographer? Technology, today is/has destroyed the craft and of those that have earned the title and has pushed a lot of pros out only because everyone is a photographer. I know, thats beside the point of what makes a photographer, but I'm proud of the time spent and the knowledge I have gained over the years and to be placed in the same category of a 5 year old or anyone that pushes a shutter for the first time? Thats not acceptable to me, just my opinion though. I suppose I'm thinking in terms of various levels of photographers and you are thinking in terms of a photographer in itself? Its really hard for me to grasp and accept those terms.

BTW, you are a very good writer, along with some others here within this sight and I only wish I had the knowledge and skill to be half as good, but I don't think that will ever happen, so everyone will just have to accept my vocabulary and poor writing skills as they are, because it ain't gonna get any better, LOL !!!
Dave

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Post by Charles Haacker » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:43 pm

davechinn wrote:You are absolutely correct with my mechanic comments. That was probably not a good scenario to use. You are correct again, (about what makes a photographer) however my point was, once the shutter is pressed then that individual is suddenly a photographer? In one sense, yes, but say its a 5 year old. I just cannot accept those terms. I suppose another issue I have is, most everyone has a cell phone which makes everyone a photographer? Technology, today is/has destroyed the craft and of those that have earned the title and has pushed a lot of pros out only because everyone is a photographer. I know, thats beside the point of what makes a photographer, but I'm proud of the time spent and the knowledge I have gained over the years and to be placed in the same category of a 5 year old or anyone that pushes a shutter for the first time? Thats not acceptable to me, just my opinion though. I suppose I'm thinking in terms of various levels of photographers and you are thinking in terms of a photographer in itself? Its really hard for me to grasp and accept those terms.

BTW, you are a very good writer, along with some others here within this sight and I only wish I had the knowledge and skill to be half as good, but I don't think that will ever happen, so everyone will just have to accept my vocabulary and poor writing skills as they are, because it ain't gonna get any better, LOL !!!
Dave

Dave, you write just fine! You make yourself clearly understood. I don't think there's anything else to it. :)
davechinn wrote:[...] once the shutter is pressed then that individual is suddenly a photographer? In one sense, yes, but say its a 5 year old. I just cannot accept those terms. [...] I'm proud of the time spent and the knowledge I have gained over the years and to be placed in the same category of a 5 year old or anyone that pushes a shutter for the first time?

I'd like to come at this from a different direction: copyright law. Many or most of you will know about the somewhat infamous Monkey Selfie case. I believe the case revolves around the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, which clearly states that photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation. I sometimes call it the hee-hoo law: Hee-hoo releases the shutter owns the copyright.

As I understand it, PETA decided to make a legal fuss over the fact that photographer David Slater was happily raking in lots of money off the perfectly adorbs selfie the critter had made with Slater's tripod-mounted but unattended camera. PETA's argument was that Slater didn't own the copyright: the monkey did, under the clear Federal Copyright Act of 1976 which states that (basically) hee-hoo trips the shutter is the creator. So Slater was in clear violation of the monkey's copyright! Six years later Slater has settled with PETA. Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of future revenue from the photos to groups that protect crested macaques and their habitat in Indonesia. AND there is a movement to throw out a lower-court assertion that an animal cannot own copyright.

Turning now to your hypothetical 5-year-old actual human, Dave, so far as I can tell the precedent established by the Monkey Selfie case shows that if the kid trips the shutter, she owns the copyright. Put another way, if she owns the copyright she must therefore by inference be the photographer!
Eek. :o

Dave, I do not disagree with you at all. I don't much care for the idea of a 5-year-old (or a crested macaque) legally owning the right to the picture and the title "Photographer," but this case (it seems to me) established legal precedent for exactly that! (N) (?)
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(I prefer to present pictures in albums because I can put them in specific order.)

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

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Post by Mike D » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:28 pm

It pleases me to read the replies here, and Chuck, you have no idea how much I enjoyed your story and the complete lack of arrogance simply because you do,in fact, have training that most of us don’t.

You also put the root of the issue firmly where it needed to be, behind the camera not through a multitude of expenditures. Thank you!

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Post by Duck » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:32 pm

davechinn wrote:[...] however my point was, once the shutter is pressed then that individual is suddenly a photographer? In one sense, yes, but say its a 5 year old. I just cannot accept those terms. I suppose another issue I have is, most everyone has a cell phone which makes everyone a photographer?


Charles Haacker wrote:[...] so far as I can tell the precedent established by the Monkey Selfie case shows that if the kid trips the shutter, she owns the copyright. Put another way, if she owns the copyright she must therefore by inference be the photographer!
Eek. :o

Dave, I do not disagree with you at all. I don't much care for the idea of a 5-year-old (or a crested macaque) legally owning the right to the picture and the title "Photographer," but this case (it seems to me) established legal precedent for exactly that! (N) (?)


Here is the root of the problem, one all inclusive term that applies to a very broad range of skill levels. That's the point I was trying to make. Many people get upset because a monkey or a 5 year old is referred to as a photographer without qualifying the term. Is that monkey or five year old on the same level of professionalism or skill as you or I? Or Joe McNally, Peter Hurley or Steve McCurry? Once the qualifier gets put into effect, the argument start looking silly.

"Breaking news... Professional photographer gets upset over amateur photographer's use of a camera!"

The term photographer is a general descriptive label that defines anyone who uses a camera. It does not rank the user, it does not qualify skill levels or age levels or (as has been proven) even species. That has always been the definition and continues to be the definition. What I can't understand is why people feel the need to claim such a broadly defined term for themselves? Specially as there are qualifiers in our vocabulary that does narrow the field. I am a photographer, I am also a commercial photographer. Actually a professional commercial photographer because I have a very specific skill set that puts me well above the casual photographers or the hobbyist photographers.

Dave, here is a similar analogy; A professional race car driver who gets upset because everyone who owns a car is called a driver. The term photographer is on the same level as driver.
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