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  1. #1
    panchromatic's Avatar
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    to be a photographer:

    For a long time, and up until recently when people asked if I was a photographer I always replied no that I was an "avid picture taker." Recently I have gone back on that and have called myself a photographer. I'm not exactly sure when I had the change of heart, but I think it had something to do with a lady "photographer" who came into my work (I work in a small camera store in southeastern PA) and complained that her camera wasn't focusing. When she handed the Nikon N65 to me (not a pro camera at all) I saw that she had it on manuel focus. I had an epifiany that this lady was NOT a photographer. She didn't know what the word emulsion was. It was then that I realized that I have an extremely large knowledge of photography (not in comparision to most APUGers) and since is was a hobby that I almost eat, sleep, and breath that I AM a photographer. Dont' get me wrong, I don't have a gallery, I've never had anything published, nor have I acutally ever sold a piece, and I am extremely hard on my own work (always critiquing it and trying to figure out what I could have improved)

    I wonder what people here consider the prerequisates to calling yourself a photographer? I think this should be an interesting discussion.

    PS>>>I, by no means call myself a professional.
    --Ryan

    "The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance." ~Ansel Adams

  2. #2
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    You might want to ask yourself if someone with less technical knowledge than you could be a photographer. For me, the answer is yes. Even though you're taking only polaroid pictures with a snapshot camera, you may be a photographer.

    I guess it's the typical "how many sand grains to make a dune" question, because you won't find a threshold between being and not being one. A piano tuner has a much more in depth knowledge of acoustics, piano construction, best sounding practices, but he may not be a pianist either.

    I guess the definition of being a X, where the activity that defines X can equally be a hobby or a profession (e.g. photo, music), is bound to be solved out of a long-term regard on one's activity. Someone may pick up photo very avidly for a year or two and then drop it. Does that make him a photographer for these years? For me, being an X means showing that you've been engaged in a stable relationship with your medium of expression, and that you are contributing to it with your work. In other words, even if it's in a very insignificant way for future generations, if you keep photography alive by doing it, then you may be a photographer.

  3. #3
    shyguy's Avatar
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    I come from the trades. I see the term Photographer as a title, similar to Chef, or Painter. It's what you do for a living. It's a job title.

    I would say that if you make a living taking pictures you are a photographer. If you are an accountant who takes pictures as a hobby then you are an account who enjoys photography.

    I do not wish to offend anyone here by what i said. I just interpret the term a bit literally.

    S.

  4. #4

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    Yeah, you're a photographer.

    Years ago, when I walked away from my newspaper photography job, one of my co-workers said (paraphrased, of course), "Whatever you do, you know you're always gonna be a photographer."

    ...And, of course, he was right.

  5. #5
    joeyk49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shyguy
    I would say that if you make a living taking pictures you are a photographer. If you are an accountant who takes pictures as a hobby then you are an account who enjoys photography.
    I do not wish to offend anyone here by what i said. I just interpret the term a bit literally.S.
    No offense taken and none intended here either...

    But, I think that a person can be many things in their lifetime. I may be labeled by the profession that I'm in, but that doesn't preclude me from being other things as well. I believe that I'm a golfer, even though I'm not very good at it. I'm a husband and father (with varying degrees of success there, too...). I also believe that I'm a photographer...just not a professional one. I'm an amatuer with maybe an intermediate level of ability and knowledge; who hopes to increase both with study, practice and a little rubbing elbows with the likes of my fellow APUGers...

    If you "compose" your shot and "see" photographs in everyday settings, then I think you're a photographer. The degree to which you are depends on you and how everyone else views your work.

    ...."Phew!...I think that calls for a beer!

  6. #6
    blansky's Avatar
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    Photography has always been a strange one.

    Being a professional, it used to irk me when as the saying goes : when you own a camera you're a photographer.......... . When you see a guy with a wrench working on his car and ask if he is a mechanic (and he isn't) he will say no it's just a hobby, or something like that. You see a guy with a plumbers snake and you ask if he's a plumber, (if he isn't) he'll say no, just trying to save a few bucks. You see a guy in court objecting to a speeding ticket you ask if he's a lawyer and(if he isn't) he'll say, hell no can't afford one.

    The point is how did owning the camera transform it into a career or profession. I guess it's just an idiom of the language. That's why I guess it's necessary to differentiate photographer from professional photographer.

    You don't hear of professional plumbers, professional lawyers, professional teachers, professional mechanics. Weird huh.

    "Actually I'm an amateur doctor, now please slip off your clothes and lets have a look at you."

    It used to bug me but since I'm older and supposedly wiser, I really don't give a damn now, what people call themselves.

    Michael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  7. #7

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    I'm not a Photographer; photography is a hobby I enjoy (a lot). Although the day may come when I might sell a picture or two, earning income or even recognition through photography does not drive me. It's simply a recreation; I take pictures I like primarily for myself. I'm a Project Manager by title and occupation, but that is not how I self-identify. By identity, I'm a musician. This is the field I took a degree in, it's where my passion lives, though I earn less than 10% of my income through music these days. Music fires my soul, project management supports me, photography relaxes and soothes me.

    Clear as mud?

  8. #8
    BradS's Avatar
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    There is a concept of "Who you are" and a concept of "What you do to earn a living".

    What I do to earn a living is only a small part of who I am.

  9. #9

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    If working as a professional photographer or selling prints makes you a photographer, are you still a photographer when you give up the commercial side and do it for enjoyment?

  10. #10
    sparx's Avatar
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    I consider myself a photographer in the same way I consider myself a biker. I don't make a living out of either of these but they are both something I do, something I enjoy and they go towards making me what I am.

    If I owned a small bike that I used purely to go to work and back, never read the bike press, never followed the racing or kept track of the latest models then I wouldn't be a biker, i'd just be a 2 wheeled commuter. Same with the cameras. Someone who takes snaps purely to record juniors 1st Christmas or sis's 2nd wedding isn't a photographer, just someone using a camera.
    [size=1]the all new darkplanet photoblog[/size][size=1]
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