Call it what you will

It’s interesting how often I hear people hesitate to call themselves a photographer. It’s as if you need to get a degree, pass an exam or make money doing it to call yourself a photographer.

If you have a camera and you like to take pictures, you are involved in the activity of photography. For many people the word photographer is loaded with meaning. As if you require some kind of approval to use it.

If photography becomes a hobby and it’s something that you look forward to doing and strive to understand it and become better at it, you are already a photographer.

The word photographer does not have embedded in it a meaning of perfection or of money exchanged for it. If you partake in the verb you are also the noun.

There are many photographers that get paid to do what they do. That does not mean that they are really good at what they do. And there are many that take fabulous photos and not make a dime doing it.

Blue New York City puddle reflection
It’s All Over Now, New York City, March 2010

I’ve spent my whole life learning photography and I’m not done learning it yet. Photography can be very addictive.

On the other hand, people who call themselves ‘fine art photographers’ are intentionally attempting to distinguish themselves from everyone else with a camera in their hands including mobile phone cameras.

There are always people in every industry, especially in the arts, that feel a necessity to elevate their place in the scheme of things.

There’s nothing wrong in calling yourself an artist or a photographer. But when you add on a qualifier like ‘fine’, it becomes a bit suspicious for me.

It is always for the person viewing the work to decide if it’s art or ‘fine.’ You are a photographer when you pick up a camera and your vision or your mind is telling you to capture that thing that you see in front of you. Plain and simple.

Just keep shooting and forget about the preconceived notions of what you have to or need to be, to call yourself one.

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