I struggle so often to get the words out... "I'm a photographer."
I do say them, however, because saying, "I am an artist," when folks ask me what I do other than raise my son, is fraught with so much baggage that it's ultimately meaningless or disparaging in some cases.
The word "Art" seems to be applied so liberally that it's like saying "thing".
I'm a thingist. Yeah. Ok.
Cloud is her name. © 2011 Blue Algae Creative
But saying I'm a photographer seems slightly inaccurate too. I use a camera to capture images and those images are used to produce my art. Photoshop is also a primary tool.
Does using a camera automatically make me a photographer? If that is the case then wouldn't anyone who ever snapped a photo be a photographer? (This is the artist debate all over again) If anyone who ever snapped a photo is a photographer then calling the likes of Dorothea Lang, and Edward Weston photographers be meaningless, just like calling Andrew Wyth, Jasper Johns, and Georgia O'Keefe mere artists can see to dilute thier stature (particularly when we feel free to call our very competent mechanic or dentist an artist)?
If I make art using a camera does that make me a photographer? Does it matter that my images are much more dependent on the work I do in photoshop than what I do with a camera? And regardless of whether what I produce is art (a question without an answer in my opinion), when is anyone a photographer? How good do you need to be? And if you need to be xyz good, how do you know if you are that good.
All of this comes from the fact that I admire so many photographers out there, and realize that I feel guilt when I proclaim to those I'm just meeting that I too am in their company. I'm not. What I do with the camera is something entirely different. I'd like to be like them someday, but that is a long road forward and I'll be lucky to have enough life left (let alone talent) to even get close. But that's a whole other debate I won't subject you to.
As I have faced these questions, over the last several months, it has dawned on me that I want to be a better photographer, pure and simple. I want to be better at the bare bones of shooting with my camera the images I wish to capture, and not relying on photoshop to do all of the work. Hence, the online class and a studio light workshop I took locally a couple of weeks ago.
I'm really not a technical person at all, and maybe that's why I've shied away from really getting to know my camera. But the time for assuming I can't learn this stuff is over. I've danced around the periphery of "photography" too long. It's time I embrace it with my whole heart and knock down the self imposed mystic. And so I am.