Are you a Photographer?

A break from the Friesland canals to a chat about photography.

It has made me think and feel somewhat stunned when asked in person. That very question. I know I used to stumble around this and fumble out a half-hearted answer of how I just love capturing moments and scenes from a small part of our daily lives. I have a creative eye for composition.

My answers all sounded a bit corny and superficial.

It wasn’t until I  heard people say aloud to others that I’m a photographer that it got me thinking.  Am I a photographer? Am I good enough to call myself a photographer?  I don’t get paid to do it.  Though I have been asked by various people and companies if they could use my photographs.  I do receive compliments on my photography.  I do own a camera.

Enjoyment by myself is gained by giving both enormous amounts of time and effort to making sure each and every photo I display is, using my own standards as “good”. Design, creativity, angles, looking out from a not so square box is what makes me excited to snap a scene and a  small part of our lives.  I chose to stop, look around until I gain the “right” angle and light, then I click away.  Creative is one word I use quite often to describe myself and what I love.  Which is one word that is often overused regarding photography and the essence of this word is often underutilised.

When it comes to equipment, is big and expensive the only way to display that you are able to take a good photo?  For the last few years, I have only used my phone instead of my DSL camera.  Does all of this make me a photographer?  Or, does it make me a person who absolutely enjoys capturing our lives through the lens of a camera?

So, what is the difference, you may ask?


By using definitions, an artist requires them to exhibit their art with a certain degree of standards.  Usually governed by their peers and themselves.  A photographer is one who practices photography as a profession. By this, I mean that they have a high standard of skill and knowledge in their given area of photography.  Years ago, there was a difference in which people did not overstep, one took snapshots of moments in their lives, had their film processed it became a way of documenting their family history.  Most did not label or think themselves,  “A Photographer”.

This is where the art of photography has all changed.

For me, it’s like the similarity of someone who enjoys cooking to those that have spent years learning the craft of being a chef.  Each one of these professions takes time and learning.

Buying a DSL camera, clicking happily away and accumulating bucket loads of photos, by today’s standards you can now class yourself as a “Photographer”.  It is a term that is often misused to describe someone who owns a camera instead of spending the time to learn the craft of photography as a profession.

I have seen it written that to be a “Professional” at anything takes upward of 10,000 hours working at your trade, how many of us can say that we have achieved this in the instant gratification world we live in?

Then the next stage will be the loading of multiple photos which will be no doubt be over shared on the social media with a few photographs being of a reasonable standard.  Which in turn will receive compliments of, “You are an amazing photographer”.

This represents our lives. 

It also describes the bane of modern photography.

So, I will ask the same question again.

Am I a photographer?

With the answer being, no, I don’t think I can class myself as one.  I am a creative person who loves capturing moments with various types of cameras.

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As for the photograph above, that was taken on a warm sultry late afternoon in Athens as we were wandering the backstreets.   The air had a gaiety about it, with the sound of music, and the chattering and laughter of cafe patrons.  Those ribbons represented what was going on at that precise moment the lenses shutter went click.

Should you put “Professional”, in front of “Photographer” to highlight those hard-working people who spend hours on end perfecting their trade?  Would it give them the honour that they so rightly deserve?

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Professional Photographers I admire:

Julia Parks – uses seaweed to process old film

Jane Trotter – NZ Photographer – Abstract

Marti Friedlander – Acclaimed NZ Photographer for over 50 years

Ansel Adams – American Photographer, environmentalist and writer

Michael Kenna – English/American Photographer – Zen-like black and white Landscape Photograph



53 thoughts on “Are you a Photographer?”

  1. This totally sums up how I feel. I too get called a photographer occasionally, but I don’t class myself as one. My wife is a professional photographer so I have a yardstick to judge the difference in skill, knowledge, and indeed, the fact she earns a living from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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