01 Jan

NOTE: I know nothing about photography. I am not hating on or calling anyone out. This is my thought process regarding photography and would love responses from those I know who love to be behind a camera.

It seems to me that being a photographer is pretty popular these days. Without even trying, I can rattle off the names of at least six professional photographers I know. If I tried harder, I imagine I could come up with at least six other names. These are people I know who actually have businesses from which they make money taking pictures of people. Then I know at least a dozen more people who I would call amateur photographers. They don’t have businesses, but they love taking pictures. They’re pictures look pretty cool to me, and people say they’re good. Remember, I don’t know anything about photography, so I’m not commenting on the skill level of any of these people amateur or professional.

So my question is this: What makes a photographer good? Can just about anyone take a great picture of a flower/beach/mountain? What is it that sets a photographer apart?

It seems that someone with pretty limited knowledge can take some pretty alright pictures with a plain old point-and-shoot and bombtastic pictures with expensive cameras and lenses and filters and other photographer stuff I don’t know anything about. I think there’s also something to do with a natural talent for framing a shot.

What do you think? Professional and amateur: What makes a photographer “good”? Good enough for people to pay them money? Is there a difference?


Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized


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5 responses to “Photography

  1. brooks bush

    January 1, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Anyone can take a good picture, few can take a great picture. Look at some of the pictures taken by master photographers. Capturing light, shadows, content and motion are only a few elements in photography. It is an art form that is studied and practiced. : )

    • jalzen

      January 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks for the responses, all! I appreciate the different ideas. Photography is just such an interesting art.

  2. Bradd Bush

    January 1, 2012 at 10:34 am

    A picture is nothing more than a frozen moment in time. If you enjoy it or it makes you smile, then it is a great picture. Photographers just have more frozen moments, and keep the good ones!

  3. wendeth77

    January 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    There are several factors to take into account. 1. There is photojournalism, photography for art, photography for memories, and portrait photography. (to narrow it down). True photojournalism requires a person to have a camera and be willing to “shoot” whatever is going on. I don’t care if it’s the SWAT team at a local hotel, people who have a heart for the “story” will get that photo. Doesn’t make that person a professional, just means they are ready and willing to grab a shot of real life as it happens. It can also be as simple as documenting the homeless population for an exhibit or project. The more serious you are, the more likely you are to ALWAYS carry a camera (and now pretty much all phones have them so it’s pretty easy)
    Photography for art is different, that is very much an eye of the beholder situation. And of course if you’ve ever been to the coffee book section at B&N you’ll notice people have many ideas of art photography. Many times the capture is more for the audience in that sense, although many people enjoy taking photos of historical landmarks for their own “art” (so it comes down to published/not published)
    I think photography for memories is pretty self explanatory. As is portrait photography.

    2. The talent. Photography by science is made up of many factors, setting F Stop/Aperture to coordinate with lighting, understanding distance, focus and composition. I would argue MANY people really have no idea about these things. I would also argue many people use the “automatic” setting even on their very expensive camera….I don’t judge, it’s just a fact.
    Here’s the thing…before digital you really had to have some sort of talent….the cost of film and exposing the photos was quite high. Photography was a luxury for many people through our parents/ grandparent lives. you didn’t snap 1,00000 photos knowing you’d go back later and delete the ones that were bad. (and I’m sure we’ve all seen those really bad family albums to prove you took the shot and hoped for the best!). With the digital, and the quality of digital, virtually anyone can take a good photo. Put a cute kid on a swing, snap a few times and you’ll get amazing results. not because you’re a genius, but because the photo is sharp (which just says “fantastic!”) and because the kid is cute and they are enjoying a swing.

    it is easy to spot a fake professional. I was at a wedding once and the girl who was doing the photography kept looking down at her camera to check the shot. You can’t do that… that you’ve got essentially unlimited shooting power, you end up losing more shots checking what you’ve taken. She displayed a characteristic of someone who has taken photos, and her camera is good so people were impressed, but in the end she’ll lose out because she’ll actually end up missing a shot. Another example are people who just don’t understand how to work with the time of day. You can take a cute kid and put them on a swing in the park, but you have to knowledgeable enough to not take them at 530pm when the sun is setting in front of your shot. Many people just don’t think ahead….they’ll schedule shoots or decide to go work on a project and not at all take into account the time of day or how to adjust for it after they get there.

    The “talent” lies in not just composition (which does play a part in I’d say the first two listed types of photography more so than the later) but what you do with it when you’re done. Photoshop has come along and people think because they can click a button and change colors they are “professionals”. Goodness no. People are doing HORRIBLE injustices to cute shining faces, wonderful skin and eye colors and making objects look unreal because they only know how to snap and push a button, not tell a story (especially in portrait photography). It’s an epidemic and it’s making me sad. I know MANY “professional” photographers as well, and looking through their albums the photos become flat and less attractive because the person really doesn’t know much about allowing the subject to tell the story, rather they are trying to add some dimension to it which tends to get over done. I’d argue there is a place for editing and sometimes it’s awesome, but people who have the $ for a good camera and Photoshop do not always have any business calling themselves professionals.

    On another note. Many people do not understand copyright laws. Those who are trying to be professional but do not do their homework on copyright laws are hurting themselves AND their clients. It can really put a wedge into a friendly relationship b/c the photographer doesn’t know what they should/shouldn’t be doing. We’re all just hanging out in some yard, throwing leaves around. weeeeeeee……you can’t run a business that way. just sayin’

    BUT I think there are many many people out there not making money and doing a fabulous job. I think there are many many people out there making money and doing a fabulous job. Point is, like any business or craft you want to improve. I know two ladies who asked me to teach them to use their camera. I just paid them 200$ to shoot my kid….not because I think they are better than me, because they have better equipment than I do. The start up for photography is quite cheap, especially for those who shoot natural landscapes, photojournalism and/or even non-studio work….BUT….as with any business people need to do their homework, need to know how to work their camera. I probably wouldn’t want to go into an Indian restaurant where no one read a cook book or knew actually how to cook any of that type of food. People are silly when it comes to photography.

  4. wendeth77

    January 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    sorry, that was REALLY long….I’m betting your not surprised.


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