It has been a hectic few months between work and life in general and I realised it has been a while since I posted a blog entry. I was away and unplugged for a short while and a few photography things have been stewing in my mind whilst my head was no longer filled with mundane things like work and making money.
Chief among the topics under furious debate, with myself, was at what point does one call themselves a photographer?
A simple question you may think, but in truth, it is laden with minefields when approached objectively. Starting with a simple internet dictionary definition, we are told that a photographer is “a person who takes photographs, especially one who practices photography professionally”. This in itself is a loaded definition, just waiting to spark explosive debate.
What the dictionary obviously has not taken into account is the current trend of cell phone photography, which by the above definition makes every cell phone user who has snapped a selfie (or worse) is essentially a photographer. Although I do concede that in the hands of a competent user, cell phone photos can be quite good; In general, I personally have to ring-fence true photographers into a global set of those that actually own a camera that does not make telephone calls.
On the other end of the scale, the definition is quite clear that a person making a living from the art of taking photographs is clearly a person who can confidently call themselves a photographer. The dilemma then is, where do the rest of us fit in?
Although I exist in the set of human beings that own a camera I unfortunately do not intersect with the set of those that are making a living with said camera. Can I then actually call myself a photographer, or am I destined to remain an IT manager who takes photographs as a hobby?
At what point can I call myself a photographer and what is the measurement? Surely the level of skill is an acceptable measure, but that is subjective and the other option that came to mind (based on the number of photos taken) would just be silly.
Should there be an official certification or perhaps once published in the media, would one get the thumbs up to place “Photographer” on their business card? I am not so sure. If I decide that that I wish simply to take beautiful images for my own pleasure, no matter my qualification or success; does that make me any less of a photographer?
Perhaps membership to a club or some sort of organisation would help? Certainly it is a step in the right direction, as objective scrutiny by our peers is used in many other areas as a measure of control and standardisation, but since when is art all about standardisation and control?
See, I told you it was a tricky question.
For me, personally, right now, I am uncomfortable with giving myself the title “Photographer” without at least quantifying it with the inclusion of the prefix “Amateur” or “Novice”. I feel I still have too much to learn and although I am pretty sure that I will be an IT manager for some time yet, as a career, photography will remain little more than a side-line possibility for the foreseeable future.
Whether or not I ever take the plunge and go pro, or get that coveted published shot or simply wow people with my images, I look forward to the day when I can honestly say to inquiring people that I am a photographer …… and by the way, a pretty damn good IT manager too!
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