A freelance writer, I spend most of the week in my office in front of a computer monitor. I enjoy my work, but I do need to get away from it, sometimes. Fresh air and sunshine are the best medicine for the overworked.
My escape of choice is landscape photography. Following my father's shutterclicks, I started shooting pictures of scenery when I was ten years old. In those days, ISO was 15 and even the brightest sunlight required a steady hand,
Later, my husband and I shot pictures together in Colorado's spectacular San Juan Mountains. Both of us taught elementary school in Los Angeles. We spent our summers in Ouray. I was thrilled when my Kodachromes were accepted by film stock agencies.
A few years before we became permanent residents of Colorado, the stock world changed forever. Some libraries were sold to CD distributers. Others just folded. I didn't mind very much. I have always taken pictures for myself, anyway. It was hard, however, to justify trips into the wild when I had paying work waiting.
Digital cameras and microstock have changed that. Now I have a great excuse to go outdoors a few times a week and shoot until my knees shake with joy.
Do I understand that pictures of "girls" and people in business suits glued to cell phones sell more? Of course! Do I want to shoot them? Heck no. Anybody can do that, if they need to earn a living. I already have a great creative job. I want to share beautiful pictures. It makes me happy, and judging from my steady sales, it makes some other people happy, too.
Am I an "amateur"? It depends on your definition. Literally, the word designates a person who performs an activity for the love of it. In that sense, yes, of course I am. The word, however, also implies a certain level of incompetence, which is not fair. Vincent Van Gogh did not make a dime from his work when he was alive, nor did he do paintings to match a market. Was he an amateur?
In my work as a professional writer, I take assignments. Much like a studio photographer who serves the needs of his clients, I determine my publishers' requirements and fulfill them. This task requires skill and creativity, but it is not the same thing as painting. For me, taking pictures is an island of pure art, and, although I am sometimes tempted to attempt a money shot, I think I will continue to capture landscapes.
Why? A hillside of golden aspen still makes me tremble.
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Photo credits: Linda Armstrong.