What Kind of Photographer Are You?

LeafI was browsing a few blogs the other day and I came upon a discussion regarding the topic of what is a photographer or who would be considered a photographer as opposed to someone who just snaps some pics at the family BBQ. Well, I’m not going to get into all that.

It set me to thinking about a different topic along the same lines that I have pondered before – What kind of photographer am I?

Let’s assume for the moment that I can describe myself as a photographer and that descriptions like hack are not allowed. When I tell someone that I’m a photographer or that I “do photography”, I usually get a couple of different views.

BucketOne view is that a photographer is a photographer is a photographer. A photographer is someone that can use a camera to take any kind of photo be it a studio portrait, an expansive landscape, or a sporting event. Although it’s true that I can probably use my camera to take basic photos of all kinds, to be really good at say studio portrait work requires a certain amount of specification in order understand the in and outs of lighting and other things that make people look good on film as well as the intangibles involved in creativity and rapport with the models. I am without a clue here.

I can usually get folks to quickly realize that there are various subdivisions of photography each with its own specialized equipment and knowledge base. They probably just had never thought about it before.

On the other hand, when that bit of confusion is cleared up, the second question arises as to just what kind of photographer I am. What’s my shtick?

I usually say, for lack of any better qualifier, that I’m a “nature photographer”. This helps a little, but not much. Does that mean that I take pictures of animals and birds? Well, not usually. Does it mean that I do landscapes? Sometimes, but not too often. Macro photos of flowers and stuff? Sort of – sometimes. Well what?

WaterI really don’t know. I do know that I take a lot of photos with water in them. When I’m in the woods I’m always drawn to the siren call of running water. I don’t think that I can say that I’m a “waterfall photographer” really. Some pics are waterfalls, but usually they are small unnamed things of only a few feet. Sometimes they are nothing more than a splash over a rock in a running stream. Sometimes they are kind of abstract views of water.

I also do other things – leaves, ice, snow, pieces of old junk, flowers – stuff like that there. It is all sort of nature-ish, but not something that I can tie up in one neat little word.

Anyway – the boy is bugging me to go do something so I better end this ramble. Suffice it to say I usually tell people that I do nature photos and if they want more explanation, I usually say something like – “Oh, you know, sticks and rocks and things like that”.

MDW

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8 Responses to “What Kind of Photographer Are You?”

  1. manicblu Says:

    I see this question bounced around a lot as well mostly by people like myself who know a bit more about photography than the average man/woman on the street. In order to sell my work I call myself a photographer and I am, no doubt, but with a lot left to learn. Just a look at the works of so many brilliant masters of photographic art show me I have yet a long long way to go technically. Until then I just keep following my eye and my heart.

    I only allow the brilliant masters to call me an amatuer. ;)

    Very nice piece..well written. I’ll check back in now and again.

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks for stopping by, manicblu. MDW

  3. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Great read here, I am constantly trying to figure this one out, landscape,floral, macro,avian or any other image I can get outdoors is what I think drives me the most. It’s a great topic I will have to think a little more about.

  4. fencer Says:

    This is really an interesting question, who you are as a photographer. “You” in particular, and all of us who aspire to take photos that are more than snapshots.

    I could easily see your photos in a gallery (and maybe they are already), especially if blown up to the large size galleries seem to like. There’s an abstract quality to the photos in your blog that seems to come to you naturally… shapes and colors artfully composed. I really like that one above, of lichen or bark or whatever it is…. ambiguity intrigues me, where I’m not quite sure what I’m looking at.

    I wouldn’t really class myself as a “photographer” although occasionally I do take a good photograph, perhaps even verging on artful. I’m more interested in the instant sketchbook function of a camera… I tend to take photos that I think might help me make a painting someday.

    Perhaps you could call yourself an “abstract nature photographer”! That would really confuse people, which can be enjoyable just in itself…

    I don’t know if you’ve ever read this blog, or found the writer’s ideas appealing at all, but http://ldesign.wordpress.com/ currently has an interesting post/article on photography.

    Regards

  5. paintingartist Says:

    I love taking photos of water myself. The lowest photo of a waterfall has mind blowingly beautiful light. Absolutely amazing. A site I dream of seeing. Nicely captured. Very fine craft.

  6. Mark Says:

    “I am a rock photographer” – hey – that has a nice ring to it! :-)

  7. Photo Buffet Says:

    I call myself a nature photographer too, except the past year I’ve realized that I get the most satisfaction out of capturing the beauty in later stages of growth. I used to try to photograph the perfect floral or stunning landscapes, but I now find myself drawn to plants – flowers & foilage – that are rough around the edges, or lacking all their petals. I’ve created some unusual art that stemmed from photos of disintegrating leaves and flowers.

    It has made me take a longer look at this world of ours, and how shallow we view “beauty”.

  8. Photo Buffet Says:

    I call myself a nature photographer too, except the past year I’ve realized that I get the most satisfaction out of capturing the beauty in later stages of growth. I used to try to photograph the perfect floral or stunning landscapes, but I now find myself drawn to plants – flowers & foilage – that are rough around the edges, or lacking all their petals. I’ve created some unusual art that stemmed from photos of disintegrating leaves and flowers.

    It has made me take a longer look at this world of ours, and how shallow is our view of beauty.

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