Saturday, January 8, 2011

Do You Really Have To "Learn Photography" To Be A Photographer

Learn Photography? Really?

Photography is awesome! There are so many kinds of images that it can satisfy nearly everyone in some way. That's why I have been spending so much time trying to learn photography, every facet of it. But I get too focused on the technological aspects rather than on the creativity involved in photography.

Is a photographer an artist? An even more pressing question: Does simply owning a digital SLR camera make an individual a photographer?

I must admit that I have been thinking about these things with regard to my own work quite a bit lately I do own a digital SLR camera. And, I do take lots of pictures with my digital SLR camera. So, taking photos is not the problem, but I still have difficulty classifying myself as a photographer.

The cause of this difficulty is that I invariably compare my photos with those of others whom I respect. I spend far too much time viewing the pictures of photographers who I consider as very talented in the sphere of photography, and, quite honestly, I regard my photos fairly stinky after looking at theirs. Yet, someone else sees my images and is amazed at how good they are. My problem, I think, is personal expectation.

My goal is to take pictures that compare to photographers like Rick Sammons and Moose Peterson, two of photographers and teachers that I admire greatly. My opinion... I just don't compare as a photographer to those guys.

When it comes to my own images, I admit that I am quite critical. Yet at times, I tend to be even more critical about those who think of themselves photographers yet they know naught about the technical part of picture taking. Why does someone call himself a photographer when he doesn't know an aperture from an exposure setting?

However, after some soul searching, I realize that I am being rather cynical. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? I have come to realize, I spend too much time evaluating the technical aspects of photos instead of the more important emotional affect of the photo.

An image becomes art when it can inspire or draw out the emotion of a viewer.

A person's ability to manipulate the camera settings, while important, is not art. Likewise, if the camera is left on "auto" all the time, why should that be important? The key is that they are taking pictures that bring joy, or sadness, or wonder to others.

Something else I realized as I thought through this issue is that the goal of all photographers is not to have their photos published by Better Homes and Gardens . They only want to have a record or journal of family memories, and that is good enough to qualify them as photographers and artists.

My desire for this article is simply to encourage "photographers" to keep on shooting. Don't be afraid to let your imagination lead you into your next shot. Maybe it will bring a smile to a friend's face, or it may end up in National Geographic in spite of us Pixel Peepers.

Learn Photography? Go to and have a peek.

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