Am I photographer or a fake?

I just got paid for a photography gig, not words, just pictures. First time that’s happened. So does that mean I can call myself a photographer now?

I know that I’ve taken well over 30,000 pictures in the last 12 months. Most of them probably atrocious, but at least a handful I feel pretty pleased with.

Thing is though, I still feel reluctant to call myself an actual ‘photographer’.

I’ve never had any training in taking pictures, and most of the little that I know is self-taught through books, perusing stuff online, viewing YouTube videos and observing closely some of the many brilliant real-life photographers I’ve had the privilege of working with.

Most of all though, like with anything else, I’ve learnt by just doing it. Over and over and over again, experimenting, playing, making mistakes and trying harder next time.

But I’ve had SLR cameras since 1989- so why only in the last few years have I really learnt how to use them? Simple really. Technology. More specifically the advent of digital photography and cameras with great quality display screens.

What’s helped me is the ability to shoot an image, check it instantly, change the settings and try again. And then persisting until I get something approximating what might be close to a reasonably half-decent picture.

The rest I fix in photoshop, which again I’ve learnt a lot about and got sufficiently proficient at through necessity – ie compensating for my shortcomings in snapping the actual pictures.

But having seen classy old-skool film photography in action, and yet myself relying purely on instant imaging and clever pic-manipulation software, rather than actual ability, I can’t help feeling that I’m a cheat.

I stand in whole-hearted agreement with all the senior snappers that scoff dismissively at upstart wannabes like me. I’m the sort that wouldn’t know a light-meter if it blinded me, and couldn’t tell my focal points from my aperture depths or whatever, if I had to save my lens.

I’m in awe of the professionals and every time I see their pictures I realise just how little I know and any smugness emanating from my last shoot immediately dissipates.

I sympathise with their indignation at us monkeys with DSLRs because I can relate to it from an entirely different perspective – editorially.

I’ve been journalousing, as I like to call, for over 23 years, but today, particularly in the context of new media, I’m competing not with skilled or experienced editors and wordsmiths, but  literally anyone that can string a couple of sentences together, coherently or not, and start a blog using free online websites – er… a bit like this one actually!

Yet I’ve practised my craft through long years in newspapers, magazines, journals and books, and of course online – from way back when I had to learn how to create websites and pages using HTML code.

Admittedly ‘now it’s all so easy’ is the eternal lament of any professional in any field doing anything long enough these days. Truth be told, we equally benefit from new tech just as I’m doing now, courtesy of WordPress.

And access to all this helpful widgetry democratises things like writing or image creation – which of course amounts to freedom of self-expression at the end of the day, doesn’t it? That, of course, is a good thing.

Even so, when it comes to image capturing, I still think of myself as just an eager and keen amateur.

Having said that, thanks to those that recognised whatever talent I may have in this arena and paid me for it, and everyone else please note:  I am AVAILABLE TO HIRE for snapping duties, and at very reasonable rates!

See my gallery of images on 500px.com

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