Hello, My Name is Sean … and I Am A Photography Snob

As a traditional artist, I pride myself in the works that I produce because they define who I am.  Each piece tells a story in the lines and colors on the surface.  From my rough, dark drawings confined to the pages of sketchbooks to paintings that displayed on walls and stacked not so neatly in my room, each piece reveals part of who I am.  A part of who I have become.

When I pick up my camera (commonly referred to as my ‘baby’), I am still an artist trying to tell the story in a split-second captured in time.  It’s a different medium, but I put the same level of dedication into my work.

I call myself a photographer because I manipulate the camera to capture the image that becomes the photograph.  I take pride in the fact that I capture what I see and rarely manipulate the image afterwards.  So when I see others claiming to be photographers when they are not, the snob comes out.

Several years ago I wrote a rant on the difference between a picture and a photograph, and I continue to stand by  my words.  Anyone can pick up a camera, be it a point-and-shoot or a high-end SLR camera with all the fancy settings and buttons, and take a picture.  You click a button and BAM! you’ve got yourself a picture.  Just because you took it with a camera or consider yourself a photographer doesn’t make it a photograph.

The trick isn’t having the best equipment and a beautiful subject, it’s knowing how to manipulate what you have to bring out the story behind the image.

For starters, do you know the basics of what your camera can do?  How do you manipulate the focal depth to best tell the story?  Do you know how the aperture and/or shutter speed will affect the image?  ISO?  How does capturing the same image with film differ from digital?  This doesn’t even begin to cover color theory, balance, and composition.

With the rise of the digital camera, everyone and their mother is snapping off pictures.  Now that we have cameras built into our phones and tablets, it becomes worse.  We are bombarded by pictures that we have forgotten the differences are.

Gone are the days of great photographers.  The revolution has taken place and I fear that photography has become a lost art.  Almost like the Latin language.

I, in fact, studied Latin in high school for two years as my foreign language requirement.  I make this reference due to the fact that the roots of the Latin language are still evident to this day.  Traditional photography has become a lost art, but the remains and roots of it can still be found to this day in digital media, contemporary advertising, and artwork around the world.
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We now comb through hundreds, if not thousands of pictures to find a handful that we took by chance that are worthy of being called photographs.  Instead of learning from those images, figuring out what made them special, unique, we continue to flood ourselves with image after image, chasing something just out of our grasp.

Photographers learn from each image that they capture.  What made it successful?  Why does it work?  And the question that we find ourselves asking more and more as time goes by; Why doesn’t it work?

I take being a photography snob one step farther as I consider myself a purist as well.  My opinion is that if you can’t capture the image you are looking for with just your camera, then it is no longer a photograph.

It’s easy to edit your pictures now that the digital era is upon us.  With a click of a button you can adjust the saturation, colors and feel of your image.  It no longer matters what you capture with your camera, it’s about what you produce with that said image.

I feel that the instant you edit an image in any way, it is no longer a photograph, but a work of art.  Digital art.  Mixed media.  Whatever.  It is no longer a true photograph.  It is no longer pure.

Harsh?  Yes.  I know it is and I accept that fact.

I understand that there are things that you can do in a traditional darkroom to edit your image, but I challenge myself in asking whether or not to call some of it photography.  As art, it is beautiful.  But is it photography?

I’m open to others opinions when it comes to art and photography, but understand that I do not want to argue.  I am like an old man, set in his ways.  If I offended you with these words, my advice would be to run.  The world of art critiques is a harsh reality that forces you to roll with the punches and learn from each blow or to learn how to pick yourself up.  A lot.

God Bless and PEACE

Please note that my opinions are my own.  Feel free to disagree with me.  That being said, most of the pictures that I take never see the light of day.  Most of my pictures are just that, images.  Only 10% of what I take I consider keepable.  Of those, maybe a handful I consider photographs.  That is the nature of the Digital Age.  (slightly different for my film, which I take more time on).
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  1. Reblogged this on Alliance In Media and commented:
    Here’s an interesting perspective on modern day photography.

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