I have to honestly say that it’s getting pretty sad out there in the world of photography. It seems anymore the moment a person gets a DSLR, discovers depth of field and picks up some software with wicked cool effects they’re suddenly a photographer, a PROFESSIONAL photographer. Even worse the next move they make is opening a photography business because you know, now that they have this artistic ability might as well cash in on in right?
Now the so-called business has to have a name. Nothing original or artistic, just simple and unimaginative. Always the same format it goes as such, *insert name* and then add the word “Photography” at the end. Make sure people know what you’re all about because photography is your business.
I could go on but it’s sad really. I see so many of these things popping up and it’s all about the money and I feel bad. I feel bad for the world of photography and I feel bad for the poor saps who are conned into paying many of these people good money for less than stellar work.
I’d like to see more people get to shooting just because. No real reason, it’s just something they enjoy doing. I’d like to see more simple shots where more thought was put into it than time sitting in front a computer working on post. I’d like to see just pure imagery created and not made because money was its driving force.
I was recently watching a documentary series I have seen numerous times called The Genius of Photography. If you haven’t seen nor heard of it then you’re missing out. Put out by the BBC in 2007 it is hands down one my most favorite videos to watch on photography and its history. If you haven’t seen it and are interested take a look around online, there are some places from which you can watch.
Now as many times as I have watched it for the first time a quote from Chuck Close stood out to me more than it had before.
“Here’s the dilemma and the strength of photography. It’s the easiest medium in which to be competent but it’s the hardest medium in which to have personal vision that is readily identifiable.”
I’ve heard it many times before when watching the documentary series only now it means more to me as I have looked over my work to try and understand if there is anything about what I shoot that stands out to be mine. To be honest to myself and with this post I have to answer with a no, at least not yet. I’d like to think maybe one day there will be something that is mine and identifies me. For now I simply enjoy black and white more than color and I like a punch of contrast too.
If you are able to obtain a vision that is identifiable as your own then great. You’ve achieved what many artists from all mediums are looking to do but if not, maybe you will one day or maybe you won’t. I say, who cares? Do what you do and do it for you.
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.
I sure love me some film developed in caffenol.
- Vivian Maier (thecreativecaboodle.wordpress.com)