I peeked at my FaceBook feed yesterday evening and saw a link to this article: Stop belittling beginner photographers. This article related how a professional photographer (David Duchemin) called out pro photographers who belittle those who new to photography. It annoys some photographers that people buy a nice camera and suddenly call themselves photographers.
I’m not a professional photographer, probably years away from being one if I even wanted to be. I love photography, and being able to capture what I see and share it has gotten easier with advancements in technology. I’m grateful.
Years ago, when I started to really get into photography, I joined a photography group on Cafe Mom for ideas and support. Since I’m a lurker, I didn’t obviously post much, but what I read turned me off. Mixed in with the informative posts were people who ranted about “moms who buy themselves a camera, snapped some photos and feel that makes them a photographer.”
One mom was furious because a “beginner” was taking business away from her professional portrait business. Someone expressed my own opinion…if the photos turn out poor quality the clients will return to the “professional.”
What makes a “real” photographer? Getting a degree? Many professionals don’t have one. Training with an already established photographer? Very very useful, but for some people, myself included, I learn best on my own.
I left the group because I got tired of the rants. If people can make money off their photos more power to them. Artists don’t get mad because anyone can grab paintbrush, canvas, and paint and created a painting. Just because you can paint doesn’t mean someone will buy it or even that it is good. In the past photography was harder to have as a hobby, with the cost of equipment, having a darkroom vs. using a photo lab, cost of film, etc. You could not instantly see your mistakes, even if you had your own darkroom you had to develop the film first. I’ve been in darkrooms, watch the process from start to finish. The things that are built into the camera, light metering for example, make it easy for those of us who want to snap better photos with less money and time. However, there is still a time investment, not in the darkroom but on the computer, and the “professional” photos will reflect that. Cameras cannot replace the human element, the knowledge of what aperture would be best, what shutter speed, the distance from your subject, the angle you need…so much more, will differ a great photo from someone just having fun.
So why be threaten? If there is something you love, don’t you want to share it? Who cares what they call themselves? If they snapped a great photo, it doesn’t have one thing to do with you. They are enjoying it. I know that there is real issues developing (ha!) from the increase of photographers, for example the stock photography market is now flooded. Years ago website development was a great side business, or even a main one. Nowadays, there are tools that make it easier to develop your own website…*cough* like this one….but there are benefits to having one professional done if you have the business to support needing one.
So someone is taking their own family photos this year instead of hiring you, when the dust settles hopefully they will see that quality still cost. If their photos don’t come out great, they will return. I know I’m simplifying the problem but the fact is, this problem is not going away. There should be no elite clubs for doing what you love, and looking down on someone for enjoying what you love is just plain wrong. Speaking as one of those hobbyists whose hobby has become easier because of the increase in technology, I use the “professional” photos to inspire me. I’m in awe of certain photographers, and admire them greatly. Just not when they tear down beginners.