Who Qualifies As A Photographer?

The digital revolution has made photography accessible to so many new people. I won’t lie, I’m one of them — I never shot film. But just because you have a camera, does this make you a photographer?

Personally, I would consider anybody who takes pictures for the sake of taking pictures, a photographer. You may disagree with me on this, and I welcome you to share your thoughts, but I still believe this to be true. I also believe that the question is not a simple one; there’s more to it than yes or no, black or white.

There are professional photographers among us, and I consider this group of people to be those who make a living of photography. But even here, there are shades of gray. My idea of a professional photographer (or a professional anything for that matter) is somebody who makes at least half their income from photography. So what am I a professional at? I’m a professional graphic designer. That’s how I make my money.

If you’re not a professional photographer, where does that leave you? From here, I would divide the rest of us into two major groups: the casuals and the hobbyists. You might say that there are also photography students, but I would consider them to be a hobbyist who happens to be a student.

The casuals are the group of people who like to take pictures, but that’s about where their interest peaks. They have no ambition to get bigger-better camera and spend all their savings on photography equipment. They usually don’t care to edit photos, participate in photography communities, or learn the more advanced tricks and techniques associated with photography. They just like to take pictures. Nothing wrong with this. I know, and associate with, a lot of folks in this category — in fact, I married one. My wife could care less about the how or the why, but she probably takes as many pictures as I do.

Then there are the hobbyists. We love taking photos. Notice I said “photos” rather than “pictures”. I suppose the two are really interchangeable, but I consider a photo to be a thought out picture. We think about what we’re doing with the camera and how it affects the photo. We experiment, and we learn from it. We want to know more about photography in general, and we seek out sources of information such as books, websites, blogs, communities, and other photographers. We drool over that piece of equipment we can’t afford, and we find that we’re never quite satisfied with what we already have. All right — maybe not all hobbyists are exactly like me, but you know you can’t deny some of these things.

So am I totally off my rocker here? You tell me — who qualifies as a photographer?

Photo credits: Milan Darula.

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August 25, 2008

Bchecjon

Great question. One thing I have learned in life is that everything is relative. One persons trash is another's art... and so on. The word "professional" derives from the word profession, or job. If photography is your job, then you rightly earn the title professional. However, this doesn't mean you are good at it. I believe that photography would be better described in terms of skilled and unskilled. Questions to ask... Does having expensive equipment make you a pro photographer? I think that having an "eye" for composition is what makes for great photography. Equipment helps, and doing it for a living give you more practice, but I believe that anyone who loves to take photos / pictures, which others enjoy could qualify as a photographer. Professionals may disagree, but I know that deep down inside, the love of the art is what binds us together. Websters Dictionary defines photography as "the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or a CCD chip)" Perhaps a better classification would be photo artist...:)
Then again I too may be off my rocker.

July 03, 2008

Shaileshnanal

The person who lives a photograph. The person to whom it is the passion and serious emotions are involved. Forget about making it a profession. Money will follow if the product is good. Photography is everything. It is the breath and bloow it is the life of the photographer who lives intensely for that. Such a being is worthy of being called a really photographer.

This is heart to heart.
Seriously speaking the person who presents the thing which is not there can be really called a photographer.

Remember thing which is not there in the picture. Miraculous and amazing.

July 02, 2008

Gmargittai

I believe being a hobbyist does not necessarily mean to spend all your savings on equipment or bigger better camera. A hobbyist is first of all a person that loves photograpy, spends hours looking at pictures taken by others because he just loves them (not necessarily to learn from them or immitate them). I can easily waste many hours browsing flickr or smugmug or other sites without looking for anything special, just enjoying a good picture when I find it.

I consider myself a hobbyist because when anybody asks me what my hobby is, I can say whithout any doubt PHOTOGRAPHY.

July 01, 2008

Mailthepic

I guess, every one of us should well qualified as a photographer but again the question lie on how successful each individual are.

July 01, 2008

Marilyngould

An interesting question indeed. I agree that being paid for one's work generally defines the difference between amateur and professional. However, if money alone were the defining factor many highly talented people would not be considered photographers. Perhaps it's the endless desire to achieve and get that perfect shot that makes us all photographers.

July 01, 2008

Cleaper

Interesting question! I guess we are all photographers as that is what we are doing here!! But there is a grey area because a professional photographer, as opposed to an amateur photographer, is someone who earns money from his/her photographs. In this way we all become professional. I wouldn't yet class myself as a professional though as I feel that I have a long way to go and a lot more to learn. I prefer to be thought of as a "keen" photographer or as you call it a hobbyist.

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