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What makes a real photographer?


ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
27 Feb 2011 9:05PM
This is based on a thought provoking blog post from Paul Indigo which I thought may stimulate some discussion on here.

Take a look at the link on his name and see if you'd agree or add any new criteria

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Overread 6 3.9k 18 England
27 Feb 2011 9:35PM
I disagree slightly because he is not really defining a "real photographer" but rather a "real good/outstanding* photographer" with outstanding being his own definition of what makes their work stand out as based on his views.

I suspect that this is his intent, but that the choice of naming/titling his spreading confusion - because what it sounds like is that you can't be a "real" photographer unless you are good. This goes against the grain for many who are keen, highly enthusiastic amateurs who - for no lack of experience or skill - lack that special something to make them (in his view) great at their passion. This it kind of creates a deadzone:

You've the guy with camera type person

Then you've the gap with the keen 'photographers' who are not as highly skilled, but still more than people with cameras.

Then you have the "real photographers"

I would also argue that of course it would be rare to impossible to meet the "perfect" photographer as defined and that in the real working world it would be a combination of some of the suggested criteria in varying amounts (which then brings up the massive debate on "how much" each of the variables is worth in relation to the others in creating the perfect photographer.
scottishphototours 10 2.6k 2 Scotland
27 Feb 2011 9:39PM
When I spent 15 years judging photo competitions, I used to tell people that to stand out in a competition you need to produce something "sufficiently different". Glad to see someone agreeing with me!...

I'd also add that "a real photographer needs an audience". Without an audience for our endeavours, why bother??
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
27 Feb 2011 10:01PM
I find it an interesting view - always enjoyed Paul's thought provoking blogs and usually agree with them, and I think this is another one I agree with.

Just a quick analogy with music.....

Its said that anyone can learn to play piano, but "making music" on the piano is a different thing.

As in, it's just a matter of learning the notes, timing and how to reproduce them on the keyboard, and you can "play" the instrument. this is as far as many people go, or want to go. But others actually find a different level, producing their own music, interpretations or improvisations.


So I think this is how I interpret Paul's views. Whilst we can all learn a skill, there's more to producing things that are moving/memorable/amazing than just a technical ability. That's what a "real" photographer is.
User_Removed 5 1.4k England
27 Feb 2011 10:09PM
What happened to all the "real" photographers that just produce reliably good results over their career.

You know, when i'm skimming the news I don't expect every image to be a amazing majestic masterpiece with HDR, mist, dynamic lighting, bokeh splashes, uber-long exposure, selective colour and f***** unicorns ontop of a run-down derelict merry-go-round next to a forest.

Quantity is a quality in itself.
User_Removed 5 1.4k England
27 Feb 2011 10:18PM
Jamie Livingston is a real photographer.

He had a polaroid camera an used it, he wasn't aiming to get noticed.
sherlob e2
8 2.4k 126 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2011 10:22PM
Sorry, but isn't a real photographer someone who takes a photograph?

I dislike these kind of thing as it devalues the activity of all: for novice photographers it implies that the images they take are not 'real' photographs (what are they then?); and for accomplished photographers it reduces their skill set to run of the mill (the norm for a 'real' photographer). It's just a labeling exercise - and in my experience its not a big jump from labelling to prejudice.
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
27 Feb 2011 10:31PM

Quote:Sorry, but isn't a real photographer someone who takes a photograph?


so a real musician is someone who just goes into a shop and strums a guitar for the first time ?
miptog 9 3.5k 61 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2011 10:31PM
Perhaps a definition of a real photographer is one that gets most of their income from photography.

I find the question interesting, in so much as its very difficult to categorise what photography actually is. For example in other areas and professions, you simply wouldn't ask the question. E.g: What is a Real Doctor / artist / solicitor, engineer / accountant / lawyer etc.
filmforever 7 695
27 Feb 2011 10:38PM

Quote:What happened to all the "real" photographers that just produce reliably good results over their career.
You know, when i'm skimming the news I don't expect every image to be a amazing majestic masterpiece with HDR, mist, dynamic lighting, bokeh splashes, uber-long exposure, selective colour and f***** unicorns ontop of a run-down derelict merry-go-round next to a forest.



By the end of the Eighties "real photographers" found they were no longer wanted. So over a period of time they drifted out of the (news) profession, to be replaced with celebrity chasing paparazzi.
Feed the unwitting public with endless pictures of their favourite "celebrities", and maybe they'll forget about the things that really matter.
miptog 9 3.5k 61 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2011 10:42PM

Quote:By the end of the Eighties "real photographers" found they were no longer wanted.


Out of interest "filmforever", what was a real photographer definition in the 80's and where are they now (what happened to them?)?
27 Feb 2011 10:45PM

Quote: For example in other areas and professions, you simply wouldn't ask the question. E.g: What is a Real Doctor / artist / solicitor, engineer / accountant / lawyer etc.


You might ask "Which is a good one?" though. Smile
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
27 Feb 2011 10:48PM
did anyone read the blog?

he made some good points that are not really being referred to here

I thought this was really well put....


Quote:A 'real photographer' has a recognisable 'voice', although the way an individual expresses that 'voice' may be through different aesthetic styles.
miptog 9 3.5k 61 United Kingdom
27 Feb 2011 10:56PM

Quote:did anyone read the blog?


Yes. Agree with Overread comment above.
27 Feb 2011 11:03PM
Blood, sweat and tears? Wink

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