Digital Photography being a Photographer

I understand the principle of this discussion and agree with it entirely. I’ve been taking pictures and making films professionally and for pleasure for coming up to forty years (that’s scary, believe me!) and get immensely frustrated by the many people who describe themselves as photographers simply becasue they own a camera (usually digital). However to be honest, I find it quite difficult to define why I find the concept of the I’m a photographer’ rebirth as unacceptable. I have friends who have suddenly discovered they have a propensity and a desire to sing, write and I don’t find that a problem.

So what is it? Is it that these people are not professional? Well another problem rears its head: professional’ what does that mean? Does it mean that they are earning money from photography? In many cases, these people are earning money from selling images (though I know I wouldn’t buy them). So it’s not that.

On the other hand, do I mean that they don’t approach photography professionally? Well not that either, in many cases, they are very professional in their approach, usually very good at marketing themselves so it’s not that either.

So we’re back to the beginning, is it maybe that they don’t understand the techniques as one contributor has suggested? Well that may be part of it, in that an autofocus auto exposure camera where any adjustments can be easily achieved in Photoshop. However playing Devil’s advocate, I know many photographers who have technique beyond belief, but it doesn’t make for what I see as good, interesting photography because often these people are simply obsessive about technical matters.

So what is it that really bugs me? I think it’s this: they have no idea what they’re actually doing. Let me put this in a few different ways.

1. Many of these people confuse content with style: often they have taken safaris or visited exotic places and taken pictures of interesting and beautiful animals or places. BUT the photographs are simply records of those things and places; they are not (well rarely) interesting except for the content.

2. They have rarely studied’ photography or even read anything other than photographic magazines. You might say “does that matter?” Let me give you an example, I play guitar: I’ve played for forty years. I’ve written and recorded songs, I’ve performed regularly, I have a radio programme about the Blues and I could name and discuss probably hundreds of guitarists and other musicians I respect. How many of these so-called photographers know anything about the masters of photography? A friend who calls herself a photographer didn’t know who Henri Cartier- Bresson was?! That’s like a sax player not knowing who Charlie Parker was .

Am I being hyper critical? I don’t think so. You see having a camera doesn’t make one a photographer, no more than owning a paintbrush makes you a painter, having a kitchen makes you a cook, and having a computer makes one a writer . So maybe, that’s another one to consider.