Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I am no longer a photographer.....

I am no longer a photographer.

Nowadays everyone calls themselves a photographer. People no longer "take pictures". Instead everyone is a "photographer". As if my ability to add numbers (limited as it may be) qualifies me to label myself an accountant! People are getting new cameras, slapping up a website and announcing their new business to the world of Facebook. But isn't there more to it than that? Shouldn't there be? Is it all as simple as that? A camera, some business cards and a smugmug website?

I am seeing new photographers every day. And while some stand out as potentially talented and others stand out as appallingly bad, they all seem to share one thing in common....satisfaction with mediocrity. The market has become so glutted with average that the consumers can't seem to tell the difference anymore. The saddest thing is that these self proclaimed photographers know little about the art of photography and even less about the technical aspect. They think because they have a good camera they will take great photos. And they will....sometimes....Well, I can buy the most expensive top of the line scalpel but that doesn't mean I am automatically a great brain surgeon. Perhaps this seems like an extreme example but it still fits. Brain surgery takes education, practice, technical knowledge, a steady hand, dedication and years to master. Likewise, photography. We may not be saving your life but we are responsible for telling your story and that is a sacred task.

Don't misunderstand me! I do not consider myself a master photographer but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be! And why? Because I have dedicated myself to the study of photography, both the technical and the art. Because I enter competitions all of the time in order to catch those elusive merits thereby improving my work with every competition.

Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone is at a different place on their path but it is these people who claim the name but not the work involved who are driving me to distraction and muddying the waters of the photography world.

Do you want to claim the name of "Photographer"? Then study it, learn it and live it. Earn the right. Learn white balance, posing, composition and the world of Photoshop. Learn to shoot a wedding without blowing out the dress or turning it blue. Learn lighting and how to shoot on manual 100% of the time. Get a business license, pay your taxes, join professional organizations, get your certification, take classes and go to seminars.

People are entrusting you with their memories, with their loved ones and with their legacy. At the end of their life this is what they will be leaving behind. These photos are their voices to future generations. Did you serve them well? There is NO room for mediocrity. I am tired of your brides coming to me in tears and asking if I can reshoot their bridal photos because you didn't bother learning your craft.

So, I am not longer a photographer. Apparently that word doesn't mean anything anymore. That label is no guarantee of professionalism or even of competence. I don't know what to call myself. Maybe I will buy a nice pair of scissors and call myself a clothing designer.......