There was a day when people like me, began “taking pictures” (in my case with the slickest little 126 camera you’ve ever seen–that I still have) and eventually, followed my passion into a full time career as a professional photographer.
The journey was similar for many photographers in every genre of the profession. One of my lifelong friends (Lawrence Sawyer) and I both followed our love of photography by working in a camera store, building darkrooms, and shooting pictures together like crazy. Find him on facebook to see some great images and posts from a page dedicated to a book he recently published on stock photography: http://www.facebook.com/Seeit.Shootit.Sellit
Technology as made it very easy to “take a good picture”. I am very grateful that I learned it “the hard way”. Allow me to explain. The entire process of going out to take pictures, then returning to the darkroom to process the film, and make some prints was truly magical. Larry and I spent many a day doing just that. It was exhilarating to go out to lovely Lake Valentine near our homes, and shoot pictures of birds, or a sunrise or a sunset, or whatever, and run to the darkroom to “see what we got”. Though this process, we both affirmed what we were learning, and discovered what we still had to learn.
Simply put, we were the generation of photographers that “knew, that we didn’t know as much as we needed to” if we truly wanted to master the art and craft of photography.
From this base, we studied, read, learned, attended classes, workshops and constantly absorbed ourselves in the masterful work of everyone from Ansel Adams to Monte Zucker and more. If you don’t know who they are, google them.
Fast forward to present day. Interest in photography is at an all time high. With fantastic cameras built right into our cell phones, there’s never an excuse not to capture every little moment of life. Who doesn’t love to post pictures on facebook, or email certain fun shots to our family and friends? So Barry you ask, what’s the problem? Everyone loves photography?
The answer is both simple, and very complex. It’s great that pictures are such a vibrant part of our lives. I love seeing all the pictures that are shared that help tell everyone’s story day to day. But, professionally, the lines have blurred. Customers desiring to hire a “professional photographer” are now faced with an onslaught of photographers all jumping up and down wanting to “take their pictures”. This is America, and I’m all about capitalism and a free market economy. But seriously folks, quality matters, and knowledge and experience gives a true professional photographer a huge advantage over an ever growing group of newb photographers. Some of the new breed are creating fantastic work, that is inspiring many. That’s great, welcome to the party, now keep learning.
Just because someone likes taking pictures, doesn’t grant them license to pass themselves off as a professional photographer. I love this quote I ran across years ago from a well known artist who worked with several mediums, including photography:
“A photographer is not simply one who makes photographs- but one who thinks and works with photographs.” Robert Rauschenberg,
I contend that a photographer doesn’t just “take pictures”. I work with my clients to plan the best possible experience for them, and to deliver with confidence, images that capture the moment. I recently had the mother of a senior I was photographing who complimented me on how well our time together was spent, and that in 2 hours, I captured more amazing images than she could imagine. Just 2 years ago, her older daughter had senior pictures taken by a college friend (whose pictures looked nice on facebook). It was a dreadful experience as they spent an entire day, shot almost 1000 pictures and had very few that inspired them in any way. A classic case of someone who loved taking pictures, but that isn’t always enough.
I photograph hundreds of seniors every year, along with a wide variety of client work, weddings and events. I am respectful of the time my clients afford me to create images that they love, and look forward to every session as an exciting new challenge. My goal is to make every portrait and event I shoot, just a little magical.
“I don’t photograph the world as it is. I photograph the world as I would like it to be.” — Monte Zucker.
In conclusion, keep taking pictures and love every minute of it! When hiring a photographer, exercise some discernment and choose well. Want some help? Just ask, you might be surprised how willing most seasoned pros are to share what we know.