Earlier this month I published A Rant. I let loose on a photographer whose work I largely respect and admire except when he goes on at length along the lines of “Your not a photographer if you use an iphone; don’t print your work; don’t use a sophisticated camera etc. You can fill in the blanks.

He’s at it again, this time on his YouTube channel.

This time he made me think about who is a photographer and who isn’t. He seems to feel that unless you reach a particular standard (presumably defined by him) you’re not fit to call yourself a photographer.

I don’t agree.

As far as I can tell a photograph is “a picture made using a camera, in which an image is focused onto film or other light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by chemical treatment, or stored digitally.”. Photography is “the art or practice of taking and processing photographs.” It follows that a photographer is someone who practices the art or practice of photography. So everyone who practices photography is a photographer. The word “photography” was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtós), genitive of φῶς (phōs), “light” and γραφή (graphé) “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “drawing with light”.

So let’s have no more of this “You’re not a photographer if…”. If you’re using a camera to take/make/capture (whichever you prefer) something, then you’re a photographer.

To me photographers fall somewhere along a whole spectrum depending on their talent, skills, experience etc. On one end are the truly bad photographers (see picture on the left above taken by me sometime in the 1980s), on the other are people like Robert Frank (see picture on the right above) who’s acknowledged to be a superb photographer. All other photographers are somewhere in between.

So it’s not a question of “You’re a photographer – You’re not a photographer”. Rather it’s “You’re a bad photographer; You’re a mediocre photographer”; You’re a good photographer” etc. “I think that’s what my blogging/Youtubing friend is getting at.

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