I HATE THE WORD PHOTOGRAPHER…

IT IS OVER USED AND UNDER VALUED…

I apologize in advance if during this blog I come across like I’m ranting and to a degree, I will put my hands up and admit so. I’m not claiming to be right or wrong or better or worse just mindful observations…

 

In this ever changing world where anything goes where technology & social media advances faster than most can keep up with and the photograph is a go to method to share with the world every single moment of your (and others) lives. With the ability to literally become snap happy drunk and express anything you want almost instantly with the world, is there any value in a photograph anymore.  I’m not generally talking about the monetary value (although it is becoming apparent) I’m talking about how we perceive imagery emotionally. Millions of images are presented to the world every second of every minute of every hour twenty four hours a day three hundred and sixty five days of the year.  That’s a heavy number to quantify when all we are talking about is just images.  To put this into more perspective, typically in one year an excess of 880 billion images will be uploaded.  It is impossible for a human to view a fraction of this number in their entire life time ten times over! So why do we do it?

Selfies

The humble Selfie….

A while ago I was on holiday with my family & friends.  One evening we were all watching this amazing sunset.  It was stunning and as I watched on in owe my friend asked whether I was going to take a photo as it’s my profession ‘n’ all to which I replied what’s the point.  I’ll be able to view the exact same image online in ten minutes time a hundred times over.  As I looked over at other bystanders it was very apparent that a large majority were more interested in seeing this display of our stunning world though the display of their iPhones.  Thumbs well and truly on the button ready to upload.  Same applies for any event whether it be a firework display or a concert and rather annoyingly at weddings too.  It has become more important to upload this image than the actual event happening before their very eyes.

Sunset

Anyone for a sunset…

I read something the other day.  It disturbed me a little.  In the near future there will be more dead people living on Face Book than that living.  I’ll leave that one with you…

 

As mentioned here

 

Is it ego? Is it because we think others are interested in what we do? Are we really that desperate to get that Facebook like or Instagram heart? Is it a sense of community? Is it an addiction?

Or as I suspect all of the above…

Maybe we should start calling ourselves digital image takers rather than tainting the word photographer.  Just because you own a camera does not mean you are a photographer.  It simply means you are a camera owner.  This is why I hate the word photographer.  The word is overused and very much undervalued.

 

Commercially (my bread and butter) this proves to be problematic.  It is no coincidence that commercial photography has taken a hard hit over the last few years due to uncle bob claiming he can shoot your wedding or Sally from down the road who can shoot that item you want to advertise. Media no longer requires in house photographers or very few as each and every one has access to a device that can make a digital image and upload in seconds what’s more people are willing to give this away for free just for the kudos alone.  I’m not suggesting this is a new phenomenon I accept this has one way or another always been present but not in the volume it is today.  The photography industry on one hand is the largest it has ever been. However, when it transcends to the ants at the bottom regardless of what you may or may not think has become a major price war where our services are demanded to be priced so low that at times, it’s barely worth taking the job at all.  Our industry is committing suicide as we battle to gain business to the point where we are literally giving away a whole lot of hard work (not to mention endless hours) and graft, for practically nothing and half the time it’s not even for a wage! Just the promise of future work or “kudos” I’m sorry I’m not interested in kudos anymore.  Egos don’t pay my mortgage.  Nor do Instagram filters & Facebook likes…

 

Another quote I found amusing.

 

“The easiest way to make money in photography is to sell your camera…”

 

There is some truth in that.

 

To a degree I think those who embrace the “new” concept of taking digital images do not actually know what a correctly color balanced image actually looks like or detail or focus or a physical print or for that matter, actually care!

 

The whole irony of it all.  I’m writing this…I use Facebook, Twitter  and I post on Instagram!

 

At very least, away from all this madness, I have my own solace.  My large format camera, a box of 5×4 and my own personal projects, my own considered body of work.  If I did not have these I’d probably give it all up!

 

unnamed

A 5×4 Large format Camera.  The actual making of an Idexical trace… 

 

Rant over.

Much love

 

Mark.

 

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3 thoughts on “I HATE THE WORD PHOTOGRAPHER…”

  1. I find it hard not to agree. And I find myself also guilty in ‘craving for kudos’- at least in certain direction. I myself have given up my 4×5″ for personal reasons, but I hope to come back to it- it forces me to decouple from the ‘shoot&share’ mentality and the slowness allows me to more enjoy the process as well as the situation. I used to call myself a photographer, but stopped doing so as I never had a payed assignment and those few sessions for friends were too few and far apart. I still shoot Rolleiflex for personal pleasure and for the social status when using it 🙂

  2. Same goes here. I have stopped taking on “odd jobs” for friends of friends as the time you put in with travel, editing time, print tests, etc. etc., people don’t appreciate photographs when you could take an iPhone snap and print it at Jessops for under a fiver. And the man in the street wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. In my opinion, a photograph must specialise in something to gain kudos. Profitable kudos. Whether you specialise in a certain process (4×5, fibre prints, tin types, light boxes…), or a certain subject/area of focus. I find I end up spending 95% of my time at my computer on Photoshop, so I specialise in old photo restoration for example. Saying that, I don’t do it full time, just as a side-line/hobby job.

    Then again, I ended up selling my hassey and a load of gear to save for a house! So you’re right with your quote!

  3. I agree but from a slightly different perspective.
    To me a REAL photographer has little to do with the equipment choice, the subject matter, commercial or personal, even talent- but rather IF you are a photographer you must simply make ALL the best choices & decisions of WHICH tools are appropriate, WHAT subject matter you prefer, understand Light-ISO-Lenses-fStops-and Shutter speeds, and make all those choices BEFORE pushing the “button”. Talent helps, interesting subjects help, and getting paid helps, but none of those are central to my definition of a real photographer. THINK about it… ( commercial photographer for 42 yrs )

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