what makes you a photographer?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by maria, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. I the other thread, which I stupidly posted twice, on documentary versus artistic photo, I've got told twice that I shall not rely in judgement on stock agencies, as they are not those who tell what is artistic. Not with these words, but that's what I understood, I apologise if I got it wrong.
    I wanted to have accepted stock photography not necessarily to sell, but better to be a "photographer". I think that doing a photo website doesn't do you a photographer.
    What is then better? Publish a book?
    I read the article about photography book proposal - but it was rather about technique.
    A long time ago a friend told me that it is better to have many less good images from the same topic than a single very good one. If I look to stock agencies which think of photos individually, I see the opposite.
    thank you
  2. Maria: Why do you take pictures? Why do you want to be a photographer? What do you think it means to be a photographer? Why does it matter? Best wishes. Alan.
  3. Well, for example being "architect" is protected. I graduated in architecture in Germany, with the title "Dipl.-Ing." Universities don't make you an architect in Germany. You need 2 years of practice, then you are maybe admitted into the architecture chamber, and you may call yourself architect. If I would call myself architect instead of engineer in architecture, I could be sued.
    If you want to be graphic designer, you must follow a course.
    So can you simply call yourself photographer?
  4. I wanted to have accepted stock photography not necessarily to sell, but better to be a "photographer".
    Stock photography is probably the last place I would consider using to become a better photographer. True, they will not accept technically poor images, but they generally don't care at all about artistic value or creativity, they only want what they think will sell. What sells well is often considered boring by most. The image someone wants to buy for their book cover or website often isn't something you would see in an art gallary.
    To improve your photography, I suggest reading books, taking pictures, and joining local and international organizations (Photographic Society of America, Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique). If you are lucky, you will have a good local club close to you (I have 2). Find one that values the art and creativity of photography. Unfortunately some clubs consist of retired people sharing shapshots of their grandchildren.
    And like Alan said, why do you want to be a photographer. I enjoy the challenge of producing good images, so improving is important to me. But, there are many other reasons you could have.
  5. jtk


    I think "art," to the extent that it means anything, comes from individuals not from clubs or books. And I don't think it's "unfortunate" that clubs consist of retired people sharing snapshots. There's a lot of good in group get-togethers and a lot to learn with age.
    For that matter, I don't think 99% of the people who use the term "art" have any idea what they mean by the term. I don't think it makes sense to pursue "art" unless you have some idea of what it means to you (if anything).
    Until you know what you mean by "art" (if that's important), the various crafts of photography can be rewarding in themselves. Personally, I don't think a fine photograph (or painting) gains by being labeled "art." What's the point?
    My own goals have to do with images that reflect a particular kind of experience that I have (and seek), using some reasonably good printing skills and my growing understanding and ever-new questions about what and why.
    I've chosen photography (and writing) for my explorations, and fallen into them by luck-of-draw. The explorations entail experience and lead to prints. The prints document my experience for myself and perhaps others. The fact that they are "fine prints" is almost incidental, having to do mostly with the way I've grown up in photography, the people who have influenced me.
    "Afghan Girl" seems to me to be a pop Icon...popular (and commercially successful) mostly because the blue eyes surprise the masses. If mass appeal like that is central to the idea of "art," then Getty's spot on.
  6. jtk


  7. A good photo may or may not be art however you define art or it may suffer technically, but still a great shot if it's compelling. That's why getting caught up in pixel count, and other technical aspects, not that they are unimportant, but that they aren't so important if the picture doesn't "work" and catch your attention. How many times did you see a picture and say "wow" and then say however its not so much in focus, or there's a cyan tint to it, or it was tilted a little, etc?
  8. I'm not sure I understand Maria's question. Is this about the title "photographer"?
  9. Maria
    If you read the introduction about myself on my member page, you will see that I don't consider myself a photographer. I think I understand your point: when can you call yourself a photographer? Just because you take photos, or after earning a degree, or because you have a nice website? No. I think the photographer is the pro, a person that pays for his life with photography and that is enrolled on a professional register, just like an architect or a journalist.
    I do not consider myself a photographer and I hope I will never be; I just like to take photographs, which is different. I am a professional musician with the passion for photography.
  10. Let's hope a photographer isn't limited to someone who makes their living at it. I know too many inspired photographers, poets, painters, directors, etc. who don't earn money doing those things. I don't find it useful when titles like "musician" and "photographer" are used as exclusionary mechanisms, especially when the exclusion is based on commercial viability or earning potential.
    There are many, many photographers. Some are good at what they do and some are not. Some who take pictures don't think of themselves as photographers, nor would I. Some who think of themselves as "photographer" I probably wouldn't. But that would be based on their photographs, not their income. As for degrees, they are an official, educational acknowledgment of something. Degrees are much more important in doctoring and lawyering than they are in painting and photographing.
  11. yes, I am thinking about people who put on linkedin that they are architect, photographer and so on.
    I would not say that if you are an architect you earn your living from this. You may well just pay the fee for the architect's chamber.
    Also, if you are a researcher you don't necessarily live from this - you may well just have publications (I lived more than one year from my saving and did better publications then than when I was paid, because I could freely chose what to do and not a certain topic).
    I have a friend who is taking really great photographs and who started to be proud about his stock photography acceptance. I thought this might be an option.
    Another one, I think, goes along with the researcher story - having a book (where you are featured as photographer along with the author). Books are also not paid, the publishing house in the best case doesn't charge you for printing. Well, you get some money if they sell.
    Another way I am thinking of is that when you have exhibitions.
    thank you
  12. jtk


    Maria seems to me to be asking a) how she can improve as a photographer and b) how and whether she can be recognized (by who?) as a photographer...or as what? Two questions that seem closely related for her. As she seems to want to exhibit as a photographer, calling herself one wouldn't hurt. It's not an exalted label.
    It might be helpful for her to explain what "artistic" means to her, as that may be a part of her "improve" question...but that may become more semantic than useful.
    Reasonably enough, she asked her questions in a way that should elicit a wide range of responses. Granted, her English calls for careful reading. If "we" think about it we can probably be helpful.
    Maria's seemingly quick rejection of Getty seems a mistake. Getty measures popularity and dollars. That's one kind of perspective on what's "good." Like a gallery exhibition, it is simply one perspective (or the perspective of a commitee).
    Here's another perspective. Mostly the work of youngish women with MFA degrees. Their statements seem to address Maria's questions. It's initially difficult to figure out what to click to navigate the site:
  13. It's not Getty who rejected me - from Getty I have no response yet. However, if I think of their technical requirements, it is very likely. But one positive thing at Getty is that they ask you for a site with more photos, and not looking at the single one. One "photographer" (that is, one with published works, in fact he earned the money for his photographic equipment and travels as researcher in chemistry) told me once that it is more important to have more less good photos to a topic than one single very good photo to the same.
    It was photocase.com . However, I tend to think I wasn't that unlucky. The forum for rejected photos is very helpful. After initial conversations about the subject and the composition, it turned out my compact camera is not good enough for difficult lighting, but at the end, that best are my disaster photos. Which is interesting, I did them really documentarily, as I do research in disasters. I even did research on 19th century disaster photography (which was artistic, not technical). Right now I am reorganising my photo.net portofolio according to these criteria. Don't think of disaster photography as of something about suffering and so - I focus on the ruins, and this is another philosophical question, as what does a ruin made by the moment mean compared to one done by the passing of time as the Roman ruins ... Maybe I will slowly find my way!
  14. I love photography because I don'y have time to paint, need to pay my way, unlike the doctors around here.
    I'd rather paint.
  15. The Roman ruins have a long standing history (& art history). So what? I think you are worrying too much. Focus on your work. It may or may not be commercially successful, but it's yours. Your area of interest at the moment and part of who you are. That imparts honesty, energy and momentum to your work, which are valuable things. There will be times when you'll be hungry for momentum and/or energy. It sounds like you are already finding your way.
    What to call yourself? In the real world, try: amateur photographer, emerging photographer, or just photographer. It's up to you. You know who you are.
    It is a very long shot for any rank amateur to be taken in by Getty. Many long-time working pros are rejected every day.
    Fred - "Let's hope a photographer isn't limited to someone who makes their living at it."

    Let's...Imagine all the people we'd have to toss out..., people like Eugene Meatyard, Roman Vishniac, Arthur Siegel and one could go on and on ...including some very famous people who died flat broke, like Matthew Brady, Steichen, Munckasi, Atget, and many, many others.
  16. "If you read the introduction about myself on my member page, you will see that I don't consider myself a photographer. I think I understand your point: when can you call yourself a photographer? Just because you take photos, or after earning a degree, or because you have a nice website? No. I think the photographer is the pro, a person that pays for his life with photography and that is enrolled on a professional register, just like an architect or a journalist.

    "I do not consider myself a photographer and I hope I will never be; I just like to take photographs, which is different. I am a professional musician with the passion for photography."

    Maria, is it possible that much of your ambivalence about "becoming a photographer" is simply a matter of translation--i.e., the difference in nuance between the words "Fotograf" in German, and "photographer" in English?
    The meanings of the two words overlap, but it's my impression that in current German usage, "Fotograf" (when used alone, without a qualifying prefix such as "Amateur-Fotograf") still generally conveys the idea of "Fachmann" status. The English equivalent of Fotograf would thus be "professional photographer".
    By contrast, in normal, everyday English usage--such in these Photo.net discussions--the word "photographer" (used alone, without a qualifying adjective) means anyone who makes pictures with a camera, no matter how amateur or unskilled he or she may be. In English, to communicate "Fachmann" status, you must add an adjective: i.e., "professional photographer" or "wedding photographer" or "fine art photographer" or even "serious photographer".
    You can find some discussion of this in posts #4, #5, and #6 here:
  17. The hyperlink above doesn't work, so here it is again:
    > http://dict.leo.org/forum/viewWrongentry.php?idThread=608609&idForum=6&lp=ende&lang=de
  18. For some reason, I do related 'photographer' to a professional status, or art status in some recognised form (published, exhibition, ...). Me, I just make photos, closest I came to being a photographer is taking the photos on weddings of friends.
    Which helped me decide I do not ever want to become a professional photographer. Photography is my mental hide-out and time away, so I sure want to keep it a hobby.
    That said, it's just an instinct feel of the word photographer, which seems related to the Fachman status Ernest refers to.
    I'm sure we could dish up some dictionairy entries that would make us all photographers. Or none of us. I think, in the end, it's a self-valuation and how you value your photographic endeavours, and which role you want it to play. The word, it's just a word.
  19. Wouter, I feel the same way.
  20. My 2 cents...
    Many times I have been asked if I was a photgrapher and my answer is always the same "No, I just take pictures as a hobby" and to be honest,that's the way I want it. For me, a photographer is someone who makes a living taking pictures and it's something I have never envisioned for myself because I think that it would loose all its charm and I would loose my freedom of taking pictures, whenever,where ever and of whomever.
  21. Yesterday I met someone who had business cards with 'professional photographer' printed on them. She was a psychology student, and (from chatting to her) I gathered she hadn't actually sold any pictures yet, she just liked photography, and has a camera, which is of course all you need to be a photographer. The 'professional' bit seemed to mean 'wouldn't mind selling a print', or maybe she'd just forgotten to put the (not) in.
    Now I'm planning to have my 'professional psychologist' cards ordered up shortly. I quite fancy a spot of listening to people's fantasies and I reckon anyone can do it - all you need is a brain and a bit of enthusiasm. Maybe a couch would help. And if you can spell Oedipus and grow a beard then you can give yourself a doctorate.
  22. Pascal - "For me, a photographer is someone who makes a living taking pictures.."
    For me, that would be a professional photographer. And part of the confusion stems from, as Ernest pointed out, being in different cultures. I think Simon's acquaintance is pushing the issue, and I don't think selling a few prints or having a dozen weddings behind you necessarily makes you a pro. Then there's guys like HCB, who when far more famous than anyone on PN, called himself an 'amateur' in the strict definition of the word ("lover").
    And many successful pros produce mediocre work, and as I mentioned already, many not making a living from it have produced work of historic significance. It's mushy.
  23. I'm happy to see that my idea is shared by others. IMO, doing exhibitions make you an artist, not a photographer; even if your works suck but you have an art dealer that exhibits and sells them and people that like them, that makes you an artist; if you have clients that hire you and pay you to take pictures (weddings, documentary, reportage, commercial, portrait), that makes you a photographer, not necessarily an artist. Sometimes, there are photographers that can also be artists, rarely the other way around.
  24. So, I go to an exhibition of photographs and I come home and tell my friends I saw an art exhibition. The first question they will ask me is, "what kind of art"? I will say photographs. But when I tell them the guy that took the photographs isn't a photographer they will laugh and look at me quizzically. I think words should communicate and not make people think I'm strange . . . though they often do for other reasons. ;))
  25. Fred, just tell them you went to a photo exhibition - problem solved ;-)
  26. There are professional photographers and amateur photographers. Pros do it for money. Amateurs don't. Some are part time pros. Most pros would call themselves a photographer if asked what they do. The amatuers would tell people they're a butcher or whatever their main living is. How many photographers would call themselves an artist if asked what they do? Sounds presumptious to me. Same for architects, sculptors, painters, etc. Humility should demand that a professional anybody let the people looking call you an artist.
  27. Alan, the thing about many of the great artists is that they were not humble. Often, their lack of humility allowed them the courage to forge ahead, to dare to create something that had never been seen or tried. They were confident enough to do what they did: taking risks, pushing envelopes, asking tough questions. An artist should be able to call himself an artist. There's no shame in being an artist and there's no false pride in being one or referring to oneself as one either.
  28. You can certainly be a photographer without making a living from it. There are many shades: an amateur photographer, a professional photographer, a (rare beast) profitable professional photographer and so on. 'Photographer' could mean any of these, and more.
    You can always try the piano test. Is a pianist (a) someone who owns a piano (b) someone who's had a few lessons (c) someone who plays the odd concert (d) someone who makes a living from the piano (e) someone who plays concerts at the highest professional level.
    I reckon 'pianist' starts somewhere from (c) onwards. But if you ask someone 'what do you do?', and they answer 'I'm a pianist', you probably expect them to mean they make a living from it. Ditto if they have 'pianist' on their business card.
    'Photographer' however often seems to be used to mean someone who owns a camera. Possibly because they saw Clint Eastwood in Madison County and someone told them about the Rule of Thirds.
  29. Wouter, same issue. They'd still look at me strangely when I tell them I went to a photo exhibition and the photos were not taken by a photographer. It's a clumsy way to use language as far as I'm concerned. Those who are drawing distinctions (at least for the sake of communicating nuances) between professional photographer and amateur seem to me much more cogent.
  30. jtk


    I agree wholeheartedly with Alan Klein. Who defines a word ("artist") by referring to unnamed people who other unknown people of unknown significance have purportedly designated "great artists?"
    Alan didn't say there was "shame in being an artist." Answering his thinking that way is unfair.
    Pride is is false when there's little justification for it, just as is "self esteem."
    There are many genuinely great and honestly humble photographers all around us, their work published and hanging in galleries, who feel no need to call themselves "artists."
    If one NEEDS to call oneself an "artist," one should feel free to do so, IMO. That's a matter of kindness, not philosophy IMO.
    I don't think Alan deserves to be preached at. He made a point with which many photographers agree.
  31. Fred, sure, it was just a tongue-in-cheek remark.
    Artist, photographer... it's words, labels. It does not change what you do. There always is ambuigity in communication like this, because there is no established expectation level. I like Simon's pianist test, and it makes this same point, I think. Print 'Photographer' on a business card, and you are expected to be a professional. Name yourself photographer casually in a conversation, and people may think you're an amateur (or not - if they asked about your job). John is right one is free to call oneself artist, or photographer. But others are equally free to have a different understanding of it.
    By lack of strict definition, the actual meaning becomes contextual and subject to mutual understanding, if present. So, odds are, we're not going to pin down the definition here ;-)
  32. jtk


    Incidentally, exploring the relevance of "art" is directly responsive to Maria's questions.
    She seems to have other concerns, such as photographic skills and venues. And she doesn't want to misrepresent herself...that seems honest, admirable, whether or not "humble".
  33. Wouter, I agree. This whole word thing gets tricky. Because just when the amatuer/professional distinction seems to make sense, exceptions come up. There are photographers who don't make money at it, yet I'd hesitate to call them amateurs. Amateur can connote lack of experience, which wouldn't be the case. These are some very fine photographers, the epitome of photographers, and the distinction between pro and amateur is not always made without judgment of accomplishment. They are artists, so maybe amateur/professional wouldn't apply. In my mind, photographer definitely would.
  34. Alan
    I said that when you have an art dealer that exhibits and sells your works (as art) and people like them, then you are an artist. Definitely the people looking (and buying) have a lot to say here but there is people and people. I would like to add that not all artists recognized as such are as good as agencies say they are and often there is a lot of talk and not so much substance. It's a bit like the talent shows where the votes come from the people at home punching a number on their cell phone: how many of those people actually know what they are doing? I can assure you that maybe 1% of the people in a concert hall know actually what they are listening to.
  35. Fred
    If those are artist, there is really no need to call them photographers
  36. Antonio, it's possible that "knowing" what they're listening to is much more important to those that "know" a lot about music than it is to the average music appreciator, who is being moved in the concert hall and getting a lot out of the experience. And you are right, there is no need to call someone a photographer. It's a want, not a need. And the word comes in handy sometimes when referring to people who make photographs.
  37. Fred
    It depends on the concert program: not so many can understand and enjoy Mozart, even though it sounds "easy" and "happy"; most will get bored, just like watching a slideshow on Paul Strand. I think in an advanced society, as we like to call ours, classical music should be taught and explained in school, just as much as math or history are; the same for all art forms. We cannot study history, philosophy, art and music separately, as they are part of our social and political history. Music, just like painting or photographing, is a complicated language and more than that, since Socrates put it at the top of his list of most important subject of study along with the scientific fields. If I go to a conference on how to improve our business skills, I will understand maybe 10% of it; the same for a person that is totally uneducated in music (the majority) that goes to a concert; if the piece is somewhat famous, he will go "oh yeah, I know this" and be asleep 10 minutes later. Sorry, gotta go, my wife's calling; I'll get back to this tomorrow.
  38. But I think there are also interesting subtext to this. The word 'photographer' is a loaded one.
    With the digital revolution, there's a public conception that anyone can do photography (which is partly true), and that doing good photography depends on having a good camera. So when someone who has just bought a big shiny camera, but couldn't take an interesting picture to save their lives, calls themselves a 'photographer', it's provocative.
    There is also a real challenge to professionals from amateurs in a way that hasn't been the case in the past. So when an amateur, even a good one, calls themselves a 'photographer', then - well they are a 'photographer' - an amateur one, and that's fine. But professionals don't like to be reminded of the fact that they may also be a 'photographer' in the sense of someone who sells photos. Because it reminds them of microstock and all that.
    Also, every second person you meet, when you ask them what they do, seems to be a 'photographer'. But there are very few of them who actually earn a living from it. A lot of people drift into it because it seems kind of sexy and their parents were wealthy enough to send them on a course in Florence for a few months - or years, and then they drift around bars picking up chicks by being a photographer. Until eventually the funds run out and they have to do something else.
    And again, professionals can begin to feel a bit insulted when anyone feels they can print off a business card and suddenly become a 'photographer'. It is sort of saying 'your job is so easy, all one has to do is get a camera and take some pics'. Which devalues the profession in the eyes of the public. Especially when the person who bought themselves a business card takes on work for a load of clients, charges an impractically low rate for it (undermining the market, and probably giving away the rights to the work in the process, making clients start to think it is normal to give away copyright or unlimited usage rights), produces bad work, and disappears leaving a lot of crying clients. Which happens all the time.
    So while pretty much anyone can call themselves a photographer if they really want to, there is a whole lot of politics associated with the word, and that person can reasonably expect to be lauded to the roofs, or derided, ridiculed and despised, for calling themselves a photographer, depending amongst other things on what kind of pictures they produce.
  39. So I go to this fancy pub on the upper East side of Manhattan and sit down at the bar and start chatting with this guy:
    "Hi, I'm Alan."
    "Well hello. I'm Barry."
    "Nice to meet you Barry. What do you do?"
    "Well I'm an artist."
    "Wow. An artist. How interesting. What kind? Sculptor? Oils?"
    "No. I take pictures."
    "Oh. Hmmm. I'm not too up on this but are you an artistic photographer or a photographic artist? Oh, never mind. Can I buy you a beer?"
  40. So many agendas about controlling the language here, but the cats left the bag long ago and are not about to return. My condolences to those who are trying to herd them back.
    Simon- "So when someone who has just bought a big shiny camera, but couldn't take an interesting picture to save their lives, calls themselves a 'photographer', it's provocative."
    It's more provocative when that person is a great salesman, promotes themselves effectively, and/or have a huge social network, has good computer skills, and just good enough to get clients to accept work. Soon, they're a "photographer" by the economic yardstick, but a hack in every other way. And they've always been with us, but now they are legion.
  41. Maria,
    Maybe you are asking: what makes you a photographer in the eyes of others?
    In fact, I think that YOU make you a photographer. Taking pictures with a camera makes you a photographer.
    Whether of not you are a GOOD photorapher is another question.
  42. I figure if you take pictures and you have a passion for what you do then you are every bit a photographer.
  43. "So can you simply call yourself photographer?"
    Sort of. Mozart could be called a music-maker. Did he require certified instruction to create music?
    If you have the thought in your mind on what to capture with a camera...you should be able to call yourself a photographer. A instructor or teacher cannot give you the ability to create something in your mind over a period of time...
  44. I'm reminded of a skit by Monty Python, "Mr. Anchovy, if I call the circus an tell them I have a 45 year old Chartered Accountant that want's to be a lion tamer, their first question will not be 'does he have his own hat' ".
    IMO it comes down to context. Is it an attempt at deception or a description of one's passion. I consider myself a photographer because I'm passionate about it and work to improve my skills. For me, that's enough. Being a Pro is something different, and to me implies making a living at it. Then again, are we what we do for a living?
    Maria, the idea of a bunch of so-so photos vs a few really good ones is a microstock strategy. More work equals a better chance of making more sales. Only you can decide what's best for you, lots of work that you think are OK or a smaller number that you feel are the best you can produce. Depends on what your goals are and how you choose to get there. For what it's worth, I don't think getting a image into Getty (or even sold) makes one a pro, but it does make for great bragging rights (I think I'd probably have a t-shirt made up if I ever did it).
    Hope this helps some.
  45. Maria: You are a photographer when someone else calls you a photographer (e.g. "You are a great photographer" or getting a letter from your local club addressed "Dear fellow photographers".)
    Now, as pointed out above, in some countries (Germany) you may get a nasty letter from the chamber if you are not registered. It appears the registration requirement to demonstrate professional training has been dropped some years ago.
  46. Subject: what makes you a photographer?​
    Let's clarify the question: Are you asking...
    1. What makes ME a photographer?
    2. What makes YOU a photographer?
    3. Or what makes anyone who claims to be a photographer a photographer?
    What makes ME a photographer?
    • A compulsion to make and enjoy my own photographic images.
    • A set of skills that permit me to create the photographs that I want to capture in many different situations.
    What makes OTHERS a photographer?
    I can't answer for anyone else.
  47. Maria, these books might help:
    - On Being a Photographer by David Hurn (google Lenswork, in their website))
    - On Photography by Susan Sontag (Picador)
  48. Maria, if you asked the same question 10-15 years back,most of the photographers would say Creativity. But now it's high megapixel camera with higher sized lens + gadgets.
  49. I think a photographer is someone who can conceive of an image and convert that vision to reality through the medium of photography. An author does it with words, a sculptor does it in three dimensions, etc. I don't think it has anything to do with how you make a living. For a number of years I made my living exclusively from photography. That was years ago.
    Approximately 50 years ago I was privileged to spend most of a summer with Ansel Adams. Whether or not he was able to sell his work, and there were long periods when that didn't happen, he never stopped being a photographer.
    In my view being a photographer is about converting vision to reality through the lens and whatever other tools you may bring to bear. How that vision and the output is defined is irrelevant. How well you convert your personal vision to the final output is what defines you as a photographer.
  50. If you think and firmly believe you are a photographer, you are a photographer.
  51. Hobbist here. I hold my camera and release the shutter. Call it what ever you want.
  52. I try to use the simplest possible perspective. You are a photographer if you take pictures. You are a good photographer if you take good pictures (both "good" words in the last sentence are equally subjective). You are a photography artist if your pictures express yourself and others.
  53. Since I own a camera that takes still pictures and moving pictures, and I use a computer for Post-Processing – then I must be – a Photographer and a Videographer. In the modern digitized Internet “feel good” & “copy cat” world – everybody’s an artist, everybody creates. Pointing out anything to the contrary is an affront to the individual’s art, stated profession, individualism, and unique personality. Factuality and/or criticism are only symptomatic of jealousy – or – ethnic/religious bias and slurs. We create our own personal myths and legends, which are then posted to the web. When 10+ Internet people agree, the legend becomes fact. -“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”- from - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
    In the modern vernacular of the 21st century, the word Photographer has no meaning; or, conversely, it has whatever meaning you, the individual, confer upon it. Yes, the cat is out of the bag.
    Apologies to any/all offended by overt sarcasm and ranting…..
  54. You are a photography artist if your pictures express yourself and others.​
    But photography - for it to be also *art* - doesn't necessarily have to do anything else than what it does 'naturally' and best, which is to describe, less express. With a photograph as art being an expression of the medium itself rather than the photographer, think Walker Evans ( yes even Evans knew that that was impossible, to exclude the photographer completely, but he made it a point to let his pictures prove that point ).
  55. "yes even Evans knew that that was impossible, to exclude the photographer completely, but he made it a point to let his pictures prove that point "
    That photography / a photograph can be art without it being an 'inner expression' of the photographer that is.
  56. I would take some issue with that. For any expression to be art instead of artifact, it must contain the vision of the artist. You cannot have art without an artist. If that vision is minimalistic and a pure expression of the captured photon (not that I believe that it is even remotely possible because we all have different ranges of light that we can see -- even our eyes differ from each other), then that is the artist's vision expressed through the photograph. But, it is still the expression of the artist 100%. You cannot separate art from the artist.
  57. You cannot have art without an artist​
    Walker Evans was influenced by Atget but the difference between them is that Evans thought of his photography having artistic merits while Atget didn't viewed his photographs that way.
    Atget's photographs are art, or at least came to be that, almost because they are 'only documents'. But Atget himself never had any artistic intentions by them and neither did he saw himself as an artist with a particular vision to express ( of course, he did had a vision, a consciousness while taking pictures, but it was photographic ). Atget wasn't an artist, he was a photographer, and his photographs show the art of photography through photography, rather than through its maker.

    But I agree with you in a way.
  58. Two Different Definitions
    I have also struggled with what constitutes (defines) a photographer. People from all walks of life have called me a photographer. Some of these people carry more weight than others, for example artists and other photographers. To further refine the example, a watercolor artist who teaches on the University level purchases my work. A commercial “Professional” photographer who hangs my work in his home. People of this caliber who refer me to venues where my photos are exhibited for re-sell. All this can be sum up with a personal mantra: “If one is going to engage in peer review, then your peers should be at least one or two steps ahead of yourself in sophistication”.
    So, in my mind, what would lead me to define myself as a professional photographer? When my net income after taxes exceeds my living expenses.
    Two different definitions with which I’m most comfortable with.
  59. If one buys into that logic a photographer cannot be an artist and photography cannot be art. I'm not buying it.
  60. what would lead me to define myself as a professional photographer? When my net income after taxes exceeds my living expenses.​
    There's no hope of me ever becoming a professional photographer then. My living expenses always seem to expand to slighly exceed my income no matter what :(
    Though I drew the distinction earlier between a professional photographer and a profitable professional photographer. It seems to me that that is the biggest leap of all.
  61. Just because you can spend more than you make doesn't define your craft. My kids have all been good at that!
  62. If you pull into a rest stop on a clear New Mexico evening, and a flying saucer lands in the parking lot, and Elvis and JFK climb out and drink a couple of beers together, and your eleven-year-old nephew snaps a photo of them with his smart phone, your nephew is THE PHOTOGRAPHER in a very real and legally binding sense.
  63. He would be a journalist. He would also have had a vision before he took the picture of what he was capturing (otherwise he would have just gone to the bar in Roswell and told the tale, like all the rest of them.)
    I think the original question was not whether you are a photographer, but whether or not photography was an art? The answer to that question is both yes and no. If the artist is expressed in the art, it is an art. If it is Elvis and the Seven Dwarves once again flying their saucer to Roswell captured by the passing 11 year old on his iPhone, maybe not. It depends on if he was inspired by Andy Wharhol and emulated Andy in the image creation.
  64. I just re-read Maria's original post and her clarifications, and I don't think this thread is about "photography as art" although we all love to discuss that hoary old subject. Her question appears to be about whether any of us should call ourselves photographers in the same sense as other disciplines/professions such as architects or doctors (or journalists, by the way). I think Dan is right - his 11-year old nephew in Roswell would be "the photographer" because photography is about pushing the button on the camera, while good photography is about a well thought-through, composed and exposed photo; and professional photography is about someone who actually earns a living, or part of it, at photography whether or not he is a good photographer. As was pointed out earliier in this thread there is likely a language and cultural difference on this one - in English we all can, if we wish, call ourselves photographers. I personally try to be carefuly about that - I say that photography is my hobby, and that someday I would like to be a good photographer.
  65. David -- I moved in the other direction. I was a professional photographer before I was an amateur photographer. For about ten years (back in the late '60s and '70s) I was a full time advertising photographer who did some work for publications (Sunset, National Geo. books, etc), and some sports in the NBA. An automobile accident brought all that to an end in '74 and I went on to several other careers. Since then I have not put my camera(s) down and my commercial darkroom has become a Mac with CS5 and 23 TB of memory. I probably enjoy photography much more today, because I get to be the art director and the photographer. I don't shoot any where near as often, but with the ease of digital imaging I may expose as many frames.
    I think the discussion is much deeper than simply do you know which end of the camera to point at the subject and where the shutter release is. Like other art forms I think photography has little to do with the camera -- any more than painting is about the raw canvas. Photography happens between your ears and not between shutter and CCD.
  66. I don't disagree with that, John. I think photography is widely misunderstood - it is a very difficult discipline to master, and unlike some other artistic pursuits change continues at a rapid pace in equipment, techniques and perceptions. But we can't just grab the words "photography" and "photographer" and declare that they are the exclusive province of the enlightened and experienced few. When Kodak developed the ubiquitous box camera a hundred years ago it was to make photography available to the masses - that cat is most definitely out of that bag. Adjectives count a lot here - they describe how good we think we are, and how others perceive us.
  67. David: I think you are absolutely right. That is why the pinhole camera and the most sophisticated digital device are really no different. Just different tools and whether or not one is an artist/photographer is all in the mind of the operator. All art is about the realization of a vision. I know artists who use photography as early steps to painting or sculpture. They would not consider themselves photographers, but they might be by some of the definitions here.
    Photography, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all of the greats in photography had that beauty in their eye before their finger touched the shutter.
  68. He would be a journalist.​
    Not unless he writes some verifiable nonfictional account of the situation (which may or may not accompany the photograph). The photo would add credibility to the account.
    A separate person, a journalist, could use the boy's photo in an article about New Mexico. The boy would be credited as the photographer, not the journalist (the author of the article).
    He would also have had a vision before he took the picture of what he was capturing.​
    Not necessarily. What if he only sees the flying saucer and decides to photograph it. At the moment of exposure, JFK and Elvis walk into the frame. Some elements of some photos happen entirely by chance. That doesn't not negate the photographer's role in creating the image.

    I think the original question was not whether you are a photographer, but whether or not photography was an art?​
    I didn't get that impression. It seemed to be more about credentials, i.e. when is it acceptable to refer to oneself as a photographer? My position is that it's clear. If you create a photographic image with any sort of conscious effort at all (i.e. not by accidentally dropping the camera), then you are a photographer.
    If the artist is expressed in the art, it is an art.​
    This discussion isn't about art or artists or whether photographs constitute art.
  69. Dan: I think you are way wide of the mark. He would be a photojournalist -- all of whom think of themselves as journalists -- even if they never pen a word. He would have had the vision that made him think it was worth pointing the camera at the saucer. Unless of course it was pure accident and he didn't know he had done it. His vision doesn't have to be good or complete -- most aren't -- just look at the majority of postings on photonet.
    The only credentials I know of that get issued to a photographer are those that let you inside the lines at events. I had those for the NBA, airshows, etc.
    How can a photograph be a piece of art if the photographer is not an artist?
  70. How can a photograph be a piece of art if the photographer is not an artist?​
    How can a photograph be a photograph if the photographer is not a photographer ?
  71. Danilo:
    thank you. I read some writings of Susan Sontag, I am sure this will help.
  72. Simon:
    "Especially when the person who bought themselves a business card takes on work for a load of clients, charges an impractically low rate for it (undermining the market, and probably giving away the rights to the work in the process, making clients start to think it is normal to give away copyright or unlimited usage rights"
    There is this problem when writing scientific articles.
    I got used since some time to write after each photo: "Photo: M. Bostenaru, 2008" for example. I read somewhere that you need to put the year when the photo was taken.
    But indeed journals, books etc. require to give them copyright on any "images" (diagrams and such, but includes photos). I had such a discussion, and was told by a colleague (geologist) that you can take more photos of the same object, and some of them are not so important, so give the copyright of that.
  73. Why would one take the advice of a geologist on photography? Giving away copyright is not a good idea. Ask the publisher of the book if they, in kind, would be willing to give away copyright if you buy a copy...and if not, why not?
  74. Luis: it is usual when publishing articles. The only ones where you retain copyright is which are under "creative commons licence", where you have to pay for being published, compared to the others which are free.
    I don't want to enter into details on that precise book as they have to be probably kept confidential, but this is the copyright form we had to respect
  75. I take it you're not located in the US. I'm more than acquainted with licensing, but in normal editorial work and book sales in the US, you sell license and they pay you for the use of the image, not you them.
  76. @Luis
    we are getting off topic, but here is an example
    41 €/page is the cheapest, for Creative Commons Licence
    It's just an example, I can give at least two more.
    It is easy: Creative Commons Licence is mostly Open Access, and there the readers do not pay, so the authors pay. Some authors prefer Open Access, because then their work is read by more, and cited. Citations count in an academic career.
    In the case above, one of the authors found that in the copyright form the "within usual limits" for photos is not OK, but could not be granted an exception compared to the other 22 authors in the book, the illustrations of whom where not photos but diagrams and similar, and who had no problems transfering copyright, as you may not publish an image twice without mentioning where it was first published. A diagram of course you can make look different, for different publications, with different colours, rendering whatever, it is not like for a photo where you find the best illustration.
  77. Well, what makes an artistic photographer is that views are accentuated in the mind of the individual and then passed along in the form of the photo captures.

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