Often times, I struggle with how I define myself. In different contexts, I would define myself differently. During the day, I am a Landscape Architect. In the evenings, weekends and the occasional lunch break, I am a Photographer. That sounds like a bad setup for a poorly written comic. If I wrote such a comic, the only reason it would sell copies is that so many people could identify with the protagonist. How many of you have full-time jobs that aren’t directly related to photography? I’m going to hazard a guess that the majority of you are photographers second and something else first. That’s not a bad thing. I’m still going to call you Photographers.
Photography is a hobby unlike no other. It’s a mix of the aesthetic with a bit of the technical. You could almost map out one’s brain based on the photos they take. The loose and bizarre porfolios are clearly from those who’s left brain (the logic side) shut down at birth. The opposite would be true for the left-brained folk. One could say that the Photography is one of the few artistic mediums that requires a good mix of both the right and left brain. But the proportion of left-to-right brainedness isn’t what makes you a photographer. Photography requires a certain level of curiosity. One needs to be constantly looking for new opportunities, new subject material and interesting angles. Their eyes should always be wide open, ready to take in the world in one gaping eye shot. But curiosity and observation skills do not make you a photographer. As a photographer, you also need to learn tons of technical information: Aperture, Shutter Speeds, depth of field calcualtions, focal lengths, crop factors, exposure, white balance, ad nauseum. Memorizing the entire photography section of a library does not make you a photographer.[quote_right]…when we get that camera in our hands, our bodies and our minds reset, our aches and pains ignored and we carry on…because we have passion.[/quote_right]”Alright,” you say, “what then, Travis, makes you and me a photographer?”
I’m glad you asked. The answer is: Passion.
Passion is a powerful force that allows us to stand up after falling flat on our faces several times a day. And yes, we fall that often – every single time we eliminate a photo from our queue that doesn’t meet our high standards. We fail, adjust, retry, repeat. We’ll fail dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times before we get the results we want. But we’ll trudge on…because we have passion. We’ll work all day, exhausting our energy stores, our patience and our desires to be awake at our taxing jobs. But when we get that camera in our hands, our bodies and our minds reset, our aches and pains ignored and we carry on…because we have passion. Even professional photographers have a daily routine that is unnerving: Billing, paperwork, heated phone calls with suppliers, failed contracts and so on. And they carry on for those few minutes a day that they get that camera in their hands…because they have passion.
Give me all of your passion and I can teach you everything else you need to know to be a photographer. Better yet, with all that passion, you can teach yourself. You’ll experiment and learn from your mistakes. You’ll read books and websites and take seminars to help you learn the specific skills. Passion is the key to all of that. Without passion, you might as well throw in the towel. Without passion, there is no love for this often unforgiving medium.
So the next time you question whether or not you’re a photographer, look deep inside and check your passion levels. If you continue to have passion, then you’re a photographer. You are a photographer with passion. Wear the hat well – whenever you get to put it on.