Everyone’s a photographer
Call me old fashioned, pretentious, whatever else, but something really gets my goat about the proliferation of Facebook ‘photographers’. I don’t understand the need for so many pictures while clubbing or drinking. Every night out validated by posing, posting and commenting on the same cookie cutter images with different faces?
This isn’t purely a clubber’s phenomenon, the same rings true with iPhones at gigs. What makes people have to enjoy their experience of a performance through their low resolution cameras, as if to ‘save it’, like a child does with the good bits on their dinner plate? I hope I’m not the only one who is sick of the sea of clasped hands trying to capture their fleeting memories instead of enjoying the show – and don’t even get me started on the Instamatic or Holga emulation apps.
I want to look at where the distinction lies between ‘a photographer’ and ‘someone with a camera’. A serious concern is what these picture-taking attitudes and our images say about us when we look beyond the original purpose of the pictures; to what they say out of context. The camera is a tool, a canvas, a workshop, a toy and an unwilling or uninvited guest all at once.
What we choose to take photographs of defines, to an extent, who is behind the camera. What interests me is where the line lies between the Snap – an extension of memory that all too often fails us – and the Photograph. Is a Photograph simply an image that comes from a camera, or something more?
It is not fair to say that the answer lies just in the volume of work, nor in the quality of the images produced. So perhaps subject matter is what creates this distinction. Well, maybe this is closer but the defining factor can’t just be what is being captured in the photo. The context and motive must play a role in defining the photographer
A friend once asked me if I thought a ‘good photo’ should be able to speak for itself without context. He believed it should, but I have to disagree. This places too much power in the exposure, composition and immediate effect of a photo, hat perhaps any effective subject could conjure when well captured.
There is not a binary distinction between Photographers and picture takers. However, I think it is important for my own sanity to try as best I can to separate these two. There is an old Arabic saying – “if you want to see what someone is really like, look at their friends” – or something like that. I think the same can be said of what we take photos of. The skill of a photographer lies not in simply taking ‘good’ photos, but in selecting and editing those photos, and in choosing which ones to display. A photograph does not make a photographer; direction, objectives, images and ‘feel’ – these perhaps are some steps in the right direction but are not all-inclusive. It’s difficult to define a photographer. It’s certainly a subjective issue, but perhaps there are elements we can all agree on.
What I’m trying to say is this: photographs are great, taking them is unlimited fun and everyone should enjoy it. But please, we don’t need documented evidence of all your boring exploits. Enjoy gigs without living through the lens, and practice your craft, develop your ideas and do your research before you go around branding yourself a photographer.
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