You're not a Photographer... Just because you call yourself one.
October 25, 2016
So, this is a friend of a friend of a friend type situation that I've been going over in my mind for a few days and come to the conclusion that I need to vent and have a little bit of a rant about it.
This particular person recently became a "Photographer" (capital P).
They quit their day job, built an office at home, spent cash on gear.
Now, I'd like to be able to say that I admire that sort of courage and commitment, but I dont, it's misguided. Particularly in this person's case.
This was all on the basis of taking their newly aquired entry level DSLR to a wedding, shooting a few frames (mostly using dutch angle), processing said shots using cliched techniques and effects; selective colouring, sepia tones etc, and then receiving positive feedback on their shots from friends and family.
That was it. Nothing else to back up their decision to quit their job.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not knocking anyone for trying, but you have to be able to back it up.
I encourage anyone to get into photography, be creative, etc, but being a Photographer is not something you can just jump straight into. If you can't demonstrate skills, show you have an actual eye for a good photo, then it won't be long before actual potential paying customers (and they are the truly important people to the Photographer) realise this.
Taking a few shots with an entry level DSLR set to Auto and having people say things like "you should sell them!" or "have you ever thought about becoming a photographer?" etc is par for the course when someone buys their first DSLR. You can't base life decisions on it.
When you make the jump from compact or phone camera to dslr (you've probably bought a DSLR as you've got an interest in taking photos and want to take the next step) you do notice the quality difference, you notice things like depth of field and bokeh. These will make your shots look great to you. It doesn't mean they are.
That may sound harsh, but ask any Photographer about their first SLR experiences and they'll tell you the same.
So what does make you a Photographer?
I've read some definitions that state that the majority of your income should be coming from photography before you can class yourself as a Photographer. I'd say it's a little more intrinsic than that; I beleive you're a Photographer (capital P) when people actively seek you out with the desire to pay you to do work. Not family and friends, but strangers.
When somebody you've never met and have no connection to contacts you with a brief and an offer of payment, then to me, you're a Photographer. And they'll start to do that when you have the most important thing you'll need: experience. Then the time is right to set up as a Photographer.