These days, nearly everybody carries a camera with them everywhere all the time. Everybody’s a photographer. But not everybody is a “Capital P” Photographer.
I read A Photo Editor, a photography blog, from time to time and today I came across a block of text in the sidebar that intrigued me so I clicked through to the source. It was an interview with Aaron Schuman, an American photographer, writer, editor, and curator who curated Krakow Photomonth.
In the course of the conversation, Aaron says something that I think we all know somewhere deep in the back of our brains but don’t necessarily think about.
Today everybody is a photographer, and I think now to be a photographer with a capital P, is more than just taking pictures – it is thinking about photography, it is trying to understand how the medium works, how other people have used it, how it can inform you about certain things, how it can inspire you.
Aaron continues …
It’s not just about pulling your camera out. Similar to writing. We can all write, we all have pens and paper, we can all write a poem if we want to, an article or a novel and some people are better at that than others, some people take it much more seriously. I could write a poem right now and it would be a really shitty poem, but another person who reads a lot of poetry, who thinks about poetry, who looks at the history of poetry, could be capable of making really good poetry. Everybody can make a picture, but some people are really good at it and treat it with a sense of importance and urgency, photography is an integral part of their life. And other people want to show their friends that they are having a nice meal. And I’m OK with that. But I don’t think I want to do an exhibition with people’s facebook photos of their lunch.
Schuman was writing about fine art photography,you can get more information on his site but I think his comments are equally applicable to portraiture, weddings, commercial, editorial, and any other kind of photography.
I just finished teaching my quarterly iPhone Photography class at Whatcom Community College last week. One of the things I try to get my students to understand is to think about what they’re trying to accomplish in a photo. I ask them to STOP: Slow down, Think about what they’re photographing, Optimize the composition, and only then Press the shutter release.
Do you think about what you’re photographing when you pick up your camera? Does the photographer you hire?