What makes a photographer?

Lake Washington

Originally uploaded by gregmeyer

Chris Brogan’s post yesterday on Nikon’s request for him to test a D300 spurred me to think more about being a “photographer”.

When I was a kid, I thought a photographer was someone with fancy equipment, who worked in a darkroom and made neat tricks with emulsion, burning and dodging, and smelled of funny chemicals. When I was a teenager, I thought photographers were artists who worked in large-format Polaroid cameras and got their subjects to take signature poses (Annie Leibovitz). When I was in college, I thought photography was about documentary (Mary Ellen Mark, Library of Congress, war correspondents).

As an adult I gave up on the idea of being a photographer for a while. If no one was going to pay me to take pictures for a living, I thought, why bother? I spent a long time not taking pictures (too bad), and then gradually made my way back into the hobby. Last year I bought a Nikon D5000 and love the advances that technology has made, the easy of use, and the ability to avoid stinky darkroom chemicals and still end up with great pictures.

Now, I’m entering a new phase. I carry a camera (iPhone) with me every day. I realize now that being a photographer is a state of mind. You can capture the world with a Nikon D300, like Chris did (and nice pictures too), or just see the world around you with an iPhone camera and you’ll get some interesting views as well. A picture may not be worth a thousand words, but it definitely tells a story, raises questions, and makes you think.


One thought on “What makes a photographer?

Add yours

  1. Awesome post man. It is so true.

    I have so much respect for great photographers and appreciate the insane amount of knowledge it takes to do it professionally but many people forget that it is just a picture.

    The more powerful point is perspective. The problem with photography, like music, is that people feel that they are not the best or don’t have the best equipment but in reality we do.

    With photos, like you said, our PHONES have them. In music, I have six strings on a piece of wood. A guitar. It is all about perspective.

    Whether your camera cost $5000 or $50 if your perspective is poor then your photo will not be good. Focus on quality of the act not quality of the equipment. Especially nowadays when the camera phone is more powerful than any camera 10 years ago.

    Remember this though: Perspective is opinion and like with any art, no one has the right opinion.

    Glad we are teammates at Gist now.

    -Shane Mac

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