ARE YOU A PHOTOGRAPHER? AM I?

In a recent post, I was having difficulty referring to myself as a photographer.  In fact, I couldn’t do it and finally called myself a “picture-taker.”  I think this feeling stems from the idea that making a bold claim such as being a photographer will subject my pictures to even greater scrutiny. 

Coupled with this thought over the past few weeks, it’s been seemingly difficult to visualize new photographic opportunities.  I’m constantly looking, but rarely seeing anything that seems remotely interesting to photograph.  This results in hundreds of shots taken and downloaded only to think, “Who would want to see these?”  Unfortunately in my mind, the answer “No one” bellows in my ears at a deafening volume. 

This scenario led me to my neighborhood bookstore.  After my usual browse through the photography section, I decided to venture outside of the strictness of photography and into the vastness of “Art!”  I perused dozens of books, but nothing seemed to captivate me.  Rather than spend any more time staring at the unique titles, I decided to seek help.  (Yes, I’m a man who will request help rather than waste time in an unfamiliar area.)  The “art specialist” led me straight to a book that had come highly recommended!  “Here it is.”  She said, as she eagerly handed me the book waiting  to see my expression.  She began to share highlights from the book as I began to energetically browse the pages.  “This is exactly what you’re looking for!”  She said.  “I know some of the exercises may seem silly and I know men are sometimes intimidated by anything that places them outside their comfort zone.  But, give it a try.  You won’t be sorry.”  I thought, “Wow!  This person is very perceptive and very persuasive.”  Alright, I’ll give it a try.

SIDEBAR: Yesterday while driving through a small neighboring town, I stopped the car to photograph a beautiful flower garden.  It’s nearly September, but I’ve learned that something is always blooming in Southern California.  After snapping a few shots, I turned to notice this cluster of pine cones in a nearby evergreen tree.  For some unexplained reason, they captivated me.  There’s nothing special about them.  But to me, they displayed a beauty even greater than the flowers.  Perhaps it’s the snow-like white spots creating a hint that winter will soon be upon us.  Whatever the attraction, I share them with you today.

(11)

Impact from chapter 1:

Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist.  Give yourself permission to be a beginner.  By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to BE an artist, and perhaps over time, a very good one.

When I make this point in my teaching, I am met by instant defensive hostility: “But, do you know how old I will be by the time I really learn to be a photographer?” 

Yes…the same age you will be if you don’t.

So let’s start.

I’m hooked! 

The name of the book: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

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~ by photographyfree4all on August 31, 2010.

41 Responses to “ARE YOU A PHOTOGRAPHER? AM I?”

  1. This is a very nice picture of the cones. I would say that you are now entering the realm of the art of photography. Great going. The lighting and composition are just right.

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  2. Something else you might enjoy browsing is an online work about the pyschology of photograhy–thanks to dig-n-dash for directing me to this via her blog.

    Photographic Psychology: Lines

    There are all sorts of photographers! Can you find yourself?

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  3. Thanks so much for these kind words, Bob! It’s interesting how scenes present themselves at times. I would have never stopped the car to shoot these. I’m glad you stopped by!

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  4. That’s for this informwtion, 47! This has grabbed my attention. I’m gled you stopped by and hope you’ll visit again, soon.

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  5. Hope you enjoy the profiles. I found them fascinating reading. When I found the one that ‘fit’ me best, I was so thrilled. Kept saying “yes, yes, yes!” as I read. Oh yeah, we are NOT all geek toy freaks! And I mean that in the nicest way. When you’re not a geek–it’s good to know there are OTHER non-geek photographers.

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  6. Nice shot of the pine cones. “The Artist’s Way” is a great book, btw. I read it long ago and think it might be time for me to revisit it. Thanks for the reminder and good luck!

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  7. Thanks again for sharing!

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  8. It seems like it could be one of those books that almost demands a refresher read every 5 years, Cigi. Thanks for your kind comment. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  9. Those Pine cones are beautiful, and now I’m intrigued about the book–will have to stop by the library tomorrow, and see if we have a copy. Thanks. 🙂

    And, btw–your pictures look very professional.

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  10. Beautiful photo, the colors are vibrant! – makes me think of Christmas in the Rockies!

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  11. Ha ha ha, reading your post today was like listening to my own thoughts… I take literally hundreds of photos a week and most are ‘trash’ to my eye… Then every once in a while one will be “good enough” to keep.

    Much of what I take is also just to share with friends and then it doesn’t matter if it is “Art” because they just want to see what goes on in my life now that I am so far away. Some of it is fodder for my writing and again, is not art. It is merely a backdrop or impetus to get the words out.

    So, if we use “photographer” in its strictest sense, as an artist, well then we may never allow ourselves the title. Yet, I believe that the Photographer has many photos that are taken and never make the cut! Does that make them any less an artist?

    If beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, can we not say the same of “Art?” Or in this conversation Photography?

    And on a completely different thought here… are we not grateful for the invention of digital photography, that allows us to make all those ‘mistakes’ and not lose money in the learning?

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  12. Oh! And I got so wrapped up in the above feelings about “art and photography,” that I forgot to tell you how much I loved your pine cones! What a lovely foreshadowing of Winter.

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  13. Thanks for these kind words, heather. I’m just starting the book and since it’s designed to take one week for each chapter, it will be a process. I’m glad you stopped by.

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  14. Thank you Car54. It does make one think of a winter in a colder climate than California. I hope you’ll stop by again.

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  15. Well said, Lynda. It’s interesting how critical we can be of ourselves. Thank you for this comment. It is well stated and I would have to agree with what you say. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon!

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  16. Well, thank you so much for these kind words, Lynda.

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  17. I’ve read somewhere that sometimes, it’s the “boring” times that make lasting memories. I say the same goes for photos. I’m not sure if these pine cones will make a lasting image for everyone but I know it’s your insightful observation and the story associated with the picture that I will remember. 🙂

    Love the book “The Artist’s Way”.

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  18. P.S.

    YOU ARE A PHOTOGRAPHER!

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  19. You may be right with that statement, Emily. I know I’m looking forward to working through each chapter as I make my way down this path. Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. One of the things I strive to accomplish each day is to encourage someone. i know most of the time I never know if I’ve succeeded or not. I think that’s the way it is most of the time with encouragement. At any rate, I want to thank you for you encouragement. I’m glad you stopped by today!

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  21. You are whatever you want to be! Have FUN with your book.

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  22. Thanks, Bloomgal. I think it’s going to be an amazing journey through the book. I’ll post updates from time to time. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  23. Love the photo and the post today, I have always called my self a photo-hobbyist, I am quite willing to be bad at what I do in order to get better… now I also have to go find that book 🙂

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  24. I can’t call myself a photographer – but I’ll add a label to ‘picture-taker’: I guess I’m also a picture-maker, because I love to play with my pictures – a lot! 🙂

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  25. Thanks for your comment, Michael. I appreciate your kind words. Another example of unexpected photography. I’ll be providing periodic updates from the book. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.

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  26. Picture-maker…I can see that! Thanks for your comment, missusk! I’m so glad you stopped by and left your comment! I hope you’ll be back, soon.

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  27. Oh my word, I know the feeling you were talking about, nothing really seems to be standing out. It’s the photographers funk, haha.

    I really like that picture of the pine cones! There is something captivating about them – Also, they remind me of Christmas. =)

    That book sounds really neat, I may have to get it!

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  28. Like many, I found myself agreeing with much of what you write. I DO consider myself a ‘photographer’ (I’ve heard it stated that once you SELL one of your photos, you can call yourself a photographer), BUT do suffer (at times) the very same insecurities and doubts. I completely relate to your current lull in inspiration (I’ve been in sort of a slump for weeks now) and sometimes find I am struggling to find a subject that sparks my creative brain! If only the hummingbird would show itself (it only seems to when I DON’T have the camera set up).

    In any event, I’m glad you are not letting things get to you and that you’ve sought out help. I will try every day to get back into the game! 🙂

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  29. I call myself “an amateur photographer,” because I don’t make a living from it. But anyone who puts as much thought into the process as you do is so much more than a “picture taker.”

    I too read the book years ago and found it inspring.

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  30. Thank you for this kind comment, pearls. I’m really enjoying the book. I’ll be posting thigs from time to time from the book. I’m glad you stopped by today! I hope you’ll be back, soon.

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  31. You ARE a photographer, Milkay! That Crane Fly you shot and posted on your blog is amazing!! If you haven’t seen it folks, check out Milkay’s blog post. Thanks for your comment here. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon!

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  32. Thank you for your kind words, amplified! There is something about those cones. They definitely remind me of colder weather – even Christmas! Thanks for stopping by.

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  33. […] I don’t want to raise any expectations. There’s an interesting discussion along those lines here on photographyfree4all’s […]

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  34. My girlfriend once said something along the lines of “being able to make ordinary things look amazing in photos is what makes a photographer” and I think that really captures it all in one sentence.

    Honestly, I often experience what you were talking about in this photo – I look around and I don’t think I see anything that photogenic. But then I think about all the amazing shots I’ve seen online, and I realise that perspective really matters. We find these things mundane because we see them every day, but other people living in other cities might find them really pretty.

    Follwing this line of thought, then… yes, I would say you’re a photographer.

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  35. David, thank you for this comment. It really adds to this post! I may tend to agree with your girlfriend. I think many of the same thoughts as I see some of the wonderful photographs from all over the world. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll stop by again soon.

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  36. […] tips, TLR, Toy Camera, Toycam, Twin Lens Reflex, 大人の科学 by David Recently, I was reading this post on photographyfree4all’s blog, and it really got me thinking.  What is a photographer?  What makes a good […]

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  37. […] tips, TLR, Toy Camera, Toycam, Twin Lens Reflex, 大人の科学 by David Recently, I was reading this post on photographyfree4all’s blog, and it really got me thinking.  What is a photographer?  What makes a good […]

    Like

  38. There is photographic “art” and “techinque”. I see art and technique in your photos. Yes, I think you are a photgrapher in any sense of the word.

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  39. thank you for this compliment, Robert. I appreciate you stopping by. I hope you’ll come back soon.

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  40. This is a nice photo, I agree almost Christmas like. Well observed, well done.

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  41. Thanks for your comment! Much appreciated!

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