I subscribe to all kinds of e-mail lists about things photographic. Most turn out to be advertising and I hit the delete button but there are gems amongst the dross. The other day I received an e-mail from PictureCorrect.com entitled “You Know Your a Photographer when….” by Cole Dunn and I really enjoyed it. This was a blog posting that talked about how to tell when you are a confirmed photographer. It was funny, it was true, it listed things I did not think other people felt, and it was entertaining. (By the way, this is a good website. Visit it and sign up for their e-mails.)

Seeing so much of myself in the piece it got me thinking. For an instance, “…you feel the dire need to pull your camera out and take a picture of the beauty of your surroundings”. Yep. Guilty! Somehow you start to see life in terms of pictures on the wall. We have a stream of beauty passing us every day and I find myself wanting to grab it and preserve it. I literally envisage the scene before me laid down on heavy textured cold pressed watercolor paper.

“The camera is an instrument that
teaches people how to see
without a camera”

Dorothea Lange

So ….. what else did he say? Well, “You get upset when you don’t have your camera on you.”  I will sometimes be going for a walk or going on a picnic and I just don’t want the burden of all that gear. It seems like there is always gear. And when I do leave my camera behind, I inevitably regret it and kick myself thoroughly! It never fails. So, guilty on this one.

“You can make crap look good”. I was at a photography conference some years ago and one of the speakers gave a lecture entitled “There are no Bad Photographs”. It took me a while to digest what he said but as I have gotten better at Photoshop and all of the plugins and support programs I have, I have found this to be true. Almost every image has a message that can be massaged into a meaningful image. I have come to realize that what the camera gives me is the beginning and not the end of the process.

“Your camera battery runs out before any other gadget”. I have a shelf full of chargers and they are refilling batteries all of the time. And I carry multiple batteries. It is not unusual for me to take a thousand images in an afternoon. I never take less than a hundred on a walk. And yes, my camera batteries are always failing while my cell phone carries on.

I really chuckled when I read that one indicator of being a photographer is that “You think the sound of a camera shutter is pleasurable”. I have never actually expressed that before but when I read it I had to agree. I love the sound. You aim the camera, then you settle your body and conciously calm your nerves until a stillness overtakes you and you become the camera platform, and in that quiet moment comes this sound. It is a complex sound as several pieces inside your camera move and come to rest. It is brief, it is sharp, it is complex, and it is enjoyable!

And how about “Travelling is more about photography that it is relaxing”? It’s true. If it was about relaxing why would I strap forty plus pounds of gear on my back for every walk through the streets of Rome, or anywhere, for that matter? Travel is about pictures. Time to relax when I get home and begin to work on your newly acquired hoard of images.

Consider my Portfolio section “100 Images of Italy 2014” (as yet unfinished). I have been working on these images ever since that trip two years ago. And it is relaxing time: Photoshop on the screen, brandy in the glass, La Boheme in my headphones. What could be more relaxing! Q.E.D.!

And finally, “You get annoyed at people who buy top-of-the-line cameras only to take selfies”. Well, an EOS 1 is a little heavy to hold at arms length. But people do pick me when I see them with the latest gear around their necks, lens cap on, no other gear in sight, and no pictures being taken. Some people wear their cameras like jewellery. But does it annoy me? No, not really. I just think it is a foolish waste.

So, are you a “photographer”? It appears that I fit the profile. Reading this piece gave me a start because it talked about things I had never really put into words before. Photography has been a lifelong hobby for sixty years but I had not thought about what a mark it has put on me. I knew I saw the world differently than others but I had never really given voice to the feeling.

Go have a look at this blog post on PictureCorrect.com. It is a good read. The link is in my opening paragraph.

“Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology.”

Ken Rockwell