I am a photography snob.
I have nothing against people that take pictures, let me just start with that. To me, one of the reasons to do photography is to capture the ordinary moments that would otherwise be forgotten. How else (other than video) can you so perfectly freeze a moment, with all its’ emotion and life in tact, than in a picture? It’s the most beautiful and frustrating thing in the entire world. Because no matter how good your camera is, no matter what angle you’re shooting at, no piece of machine will ever be able to recreate what our eyes can see and our heart feels.
And yet we photographers keep trying.
So the hobbyist shooter, the party kid who brings his point and shoot, those aren’t the people that drive me crazy. I sort of approve of them, really, because they’re doing photography for essentially the same reason I do. So they don’t make me angry.
It’s the ones who buy themselves a DSLR and then automatically think that makes them special that make me want to take my camera and bash them over the head with it.
I think the real photographers can just tell when they’re working next to a legit photog. I remember one night at AU while reviewing a show at Katzen, I saw two kids taking pictures of the play. One of them I could just tell had no idea what they were doing. The other, though she had more equipment (which can be seen as showy) simply seemed natural at what she did. (I ended up “hiring” her to be one of AUSG’s photographers – and she was fabulous).
But I digress.
I am a photography snob because photography – good, creative, dramatic photography – is HARD. And no one seems to believe me! Or maybe the people who don’t believe me are just the ones who bought their D40 and think they’re The Shit. That they don’t need a class, that they can suddenly do band photography at any outdoor concert, and it’s Good.
Let me be honest with something I’ve tried to deny for a while – Good Photography is sweat and talent and knowledge, but every now and then – It’s also pure, unadulterated LUCK. This drives me CRAZY. But it’s so true. Luck plays an important role in life – and photography is no different. Granted, the moments of luck that fall in a photographer’s lap are generally moot if the photog doesn’t know how to use their camera to take advantage of said luck. But I think a lot of people just think about the luck and forget the work, buy themselves a pretty camera, and think they’re going to be the next Ansel Adams.
THIS IS FALSE. Say it with me: a good camera does not equal good photography.
My time here at Wolf Trap has taught me this in a whole new way.
Let me be egotistical for a moment – I think I’m a Pretty Good photographer. I’ve taken classes. I read about it. And I have a fantastic camera. Plus, the fact I got this internship must mean I’ve got some talent, right?
Well, I had a dose of Unpleasant Surprise my first show.
Wolf Trap has some pretty strange restrictions. The three song one is pretty standard across venues, but Wolf Trap also says its photogs have to stand roughly 30 feet away from the stage at a place we fondly refer to as “third fin” (named because of the unique architecture of the Filene Center). I’m almost never allowed in the pit, the area right in front of the stage, where virtually every other club lets its press people stand for the first three songs. There is no other venue I can think of that is that rough on their house press.
So needless to say – when you’re 30 feet away, even your best zoom lens isn’t going to really help. And when the show is an intimate, songwriter circle style show and the lighting is dim and moody… your photography is going to suck.
I overcame these problems. Through a variety of solutions including sneaking up closer and changing my ISO (which isn’t always a preferable way to go, but you do what you have to), I figured things out. And that’s what makes me a photographer. Not my camera, but my experience and knowledge about how a camera works that saved my ass and let me produce a handful of shots that were at least decent.
I bet you a million dollars one of those hobbyist shooters with their D40s couldn’t have gotten crap out of a situation like that.
So basically, this whole post is to notify the world that PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT EASY. Everyone can take a picture, but not everyone can be a photographer… and the distinction is paramount.
At least to me.