How are you feeling ? Right here, right now ? If you had to take a photo of your mood now, at this given moment, what would be your doubts about photography, your brightest moments ? What are you certain of ? What photographic stage are you at ?
Learner Photographer with a capital L.
Do you always have to ask yourself where your “expert” DSLR’s instruction booklet is ? The one that still smells of the Christmas tree or the candles from your birthday cake ? Are you always wondering what the best cheap lens would be, with the least distortion, that could do everything ? Do you always get confused between depth of field, focal length and apertures ? So, you’ll need big L-plates on your camera bag. It’s not too late to change.
You’ve picked sides, you like “your” brand and you’re unbeatable with the DG-XL-Super-II lens. You buy more and more, you collect lenses, filters, remote controls, the vertical grip that makes you look professional. You clean your gear every day. You’re all over the big brand forums with your consumerism and your next lens is pre-ordered with a German website. Your wages go straight there, the children are hungry, your divorce and Social Services are getting closer and the bailiff is at your door to take it all back. This is the shopaholic stage, wake up !
Photographer Learning to Fly.
Enlightened by the flashes at the local photography club, now you know that your digital camera, or your old-school film camera, is the chosen club favourite. You have archived (or binned ?) all your first photos to start again with the correct shutter speed, focal length and perfect lighting. You are working on reflections in puddles and your next collective exhibition is “A city in a different light”. You haven’t yet categorised your photographic style, but Willy Ronis and Cartier Bresson are among your friends. This is the “photo club” stage, all is not lost.
Militant Copyrighted Photographer.
Hey it’s getting intimate, you’re working at it now. You discover copyright laws and you stop filling up Picsoussa and other “free” networks with your photos. Your favourite ex-forum is full of losers and product reviews. You launch your own website to move into the professional market and you spit on the idea of adding the words “weddings” and “babies” to your immaculate portfolio. You find out that “Rights Reserved” is more likely to mean “Rights to nothing”. The umpteenth competition that pinches your pictures makes you sick. This is the “militant” stage ; keep breathing even if it turns your stomach.
Emerging Young Star Photographer.
The local tourist office wants to host an exhibition of your work, but don’t think too hard about representation rights. Publishers are asking you to promote yourself and to finance your own first book of photographs. Shit ! For the glory of your photographer forefathers and comrades, you reinvent yourself, rediscover yourself, maybe even a photo reporter ? The riots of ’93, shots of squats, demos ? Wow, this is the “emerging” stage !
Starving Artisan Photographer.
Wow, you’ve arrived. To pay for the studio rental (and food), you’re finally doing weddings and you work at weekends. You have your own lovely studio full of umbrella kits and intrusive flashes. A passport photo, you say ? Click ! What ? It’s too expensive ? Please let us publish your Antarctic reportage in our magazine, for £30 per page. The piecework in the local paper doesn’t even cover travel expenses. 3000 packshots against a white background for a retail website ? At 30p a shot ? But…but… This is the “starving artist” stage you were warned about.
The Comeback Kid Photographer.
You take your business plan under your arm and count your coppers. Must do something else, change your clientele and fire all the agencies and middlemen who are getting fat at your expense. Oh well… in any case, there are plenty of photos online. And videos ? Have you seen the price of the gear ? In fact, what did you do for a living before all this ? The real job, the one that brought home the money ? This is the “bounce back” stage : boing !