In a container tucked away in a closet are some bits and pieces of memorabilia from my childhood and my adult life, things that I chose to keep to remind me of some good things. There are some old letters, handmade cards from my kids, my 4-H folder with ribbons earned on projects, and even a photo of a Sweet Adeline Chorus I was in…taken when we had won a “Small Chorus Award” in the early 1980’s. Each of these things represent contests, opportunities to “make the best better” as the 4-H motto once read.
Just keep that in mind while I go in a different direction now.
For this assignment in Kat’s Find Your Eye Course, entitled “Stop Apologizing”, I had to define what I think a photographer is. Here is what I wrote down:
“A real photographer takes photos full time, for pay; knows all the numbers of every possible thing on their camera and can say them; sells their photos; gets asked to do special projects; may have written a book on photography; owns multiple cameras and lots of accessories; enters lots and lots of contests and wins.”
Then I had to look at how I stack up to my own definition of photographer. Ouch.
It’s my hobby and I don’t get paid. I struggle with the numbers thing about exposure and stuff like that and I really don’t care. I have one camera I use. I’ve never sold an image. I did get asked once to take a quick photo of a group. I have written a novel, still in rough draft, and I will tell you there is a woman photographer in it. And the camera collection I have….none of them work.
By my own definition I’m not a photographer.
And the one area I apologize for is that I don’t enter contests. Because somewhere I have picked up that idea that photographers, real ones, enter contests. *Disclaimer: I have nothing against contests or those who do participate….these events are just not for me at this point in my journey.
Why do I take photos? You can read my earlier post about that here. That answer still holds. And since that is still true, here is how I have redefined what a “real photographer” is, focusing on the kind of photographer I want to be:
A real photographer uses photographic images to express their art, their creativity, their insight into life; they are not limited by the equipment they use, no matter if it is a film camera, a point and shoot, a DSLR, or an iPhone. What matters to them is what the expression of this art does for them and for others. This real photographer is not concerned with awards. They are willing to share what they know about their craft so they can help others along their journey.
That is the kind of photographer I want to be.
Contests and awards? I see them as an opportunity to grow, to learn more, to do better, much like the 4-H days from long ago. Maybe there will be a place in my future for photographic competition, but for now I choose to concentrate on learning other things.