The term “professional photographer” seems to get thrown around a lot these days. People are more focused on title rather than the experience. Kind of like how society puts more into ones job title, or social status and the phone or car they drive. The art of the photograph I feel is being lost sometimes for the sake of an empty title in life.
It used to be one would work hard for years perfecting their skills and eventually becoming a professional. Many others took amazing photographs and never announced they were a professional let alone a photographer at all. Take Vivian Maier for instance, no one ever knew of her work as a photographer just that she did some traveling and worked her life as a nanny. Very private she spent her days off walking, exploring and taking pictures but nothing more was known let alone seen of her work. Luckily it was discovered and brought to light and is worth looking into. The point is she never gloated about her photos but clearly she had an eye for what she did. Her pictures were for her pure enjoyment and nothing more and it seems there are more people leaving that behind. They get a camera and take some pictures and the moment they take pictures for someone else, whether paid or not, they want to add “professional photographer” to their title in life. I’ve met people who have cooked for two years yet call themselves “professional chefs”. It just seems sad to me.
Even a service or group like Nikon Professional Services in my mind does not make one a professional. I know a hand full of people who got membership despite not actually owning two or more professional Nikon bodies let alone the lenses required. They certainly do not work full time as a photographer nor have it as their sole or primary means of income so what makes them actually a professional? I don’t know but I also was told one needs to keep an updated inventory of body and lenses thus staying current with Nikon gear to maintain being a professional in their eyes. I understand that as a true professional keeping ones gear up to date is part of the expense of being a professional but it seems to me more like a sale gimmick rather than an endowment of professionalism. I mean so many great photographers past and present have shot some of their best stuff on old equipment.
The more “professional” work I see the less I think it compares to those who shoot for their own enjoyment who are not trying to impress others or gloat about the photos they take. And while not against the digital age and the technology we have, it is sad to know so much is being done in post that could have been done with the camera if said professionals truly were the title they placed upon themselves. I guess using a title sounds good and drinking from a camera lens mug makes others feel more like they are what they claim to be which is easier than admitting they have little understanding of the art of photography let alone its history.
- Vivian Maier (thecreativecaboodle.wordpress.com)