‘I’m a Photographer’: those are the words that conjure up an image in the reader’s mind making them think, “he’s a Professional”, but that’s not always the case.
To me, we’re all photographers, every one of us, whether we’re using the most expensive all bells and whistles camera, or the cheapest mobile phone: we’re all photographers.
Why do I say that? Well, we all have the dream of taking the most amazing images, those that will stand the test of time and leave future generations in a place of wonderment, but I don’t consider myself a professional because of that.
Too me, a professional is someone who takes images for their business and work, getting paid vast sums of money (well a reasonable amount of money) to pay the bills and support their family too.
So what makes me a photographer? Well, I take pleasure in going out to different places to try and come home with the best images I can, sometimes I come home with loads, and other times, none at all but even though I have nothing to show for the day, I find happiness in the trying…
One thing that I have found through my street work is I’ve become more patient and observant in life. Using my eyes to see something that will make a great image. But this doesn’t always happen either due to something moving in the way to stop me capturing the image, or having thought about taking the shot but missing it due to not reacting quickly enough… It’s sometimes better to just shoot first rather than thinking first. But that doesn’t matter to me in the end, yes, I missed that shot of a lifetime but it’s not gone. I have that image added to the rest in my mind’s eye; where it will be with me forever more, until old age steals it away from me. Ah! I hear you say, “how does that make you and me a Photographer?” Well, we all takes images on a variety of devices for many and varied reasons. The birth of a new baby, the first walk, the first word. Our relatives, and our friends too, are all subjects to our whim to take an image of them, good or bad. Many of us will say we’re not photogenic and shun being photographed but we are as we are, your family will cherish that image either way.
In the days of film cameras, it must have been a really interesting time working in a lab where you processed thousands of film rolls, and seeing what people photographed. Some, just blank images due to the roll not being installed properly in the camera (yes, I did that at a once in a lifetime event), some shocking images that could be classed as pornographic, others with the top of the person’s head chopped off, and many washed out due to flare in the lens, but that still makes us photographers (well, maybe not the pornographic ones); just not great ones.
So when someone asks you to take their photograph or ask you to photograph a family outing, don’t say ‘oh, I can’t, I’m not very good!’ just go and try as you may surprise yourself with what you have taken, and with practice, you will get better too as you learn from your mistakes because you are a photographer.
By James Ormiston