Friday, April 23, 2004
"Hi, my name is Steve, and I'm a photographer"...
(...chorus of "Hi Steve!")
Yes, photographers need a 12-step program.
Not snapshooters, to be sure, and probably not professionals - they get rewarded by being paid, after all. But those of us in the middle, we "serious amateurs," we need help.
Think about it for a second - the word "amateur" itself. It comes to us from the latin amator, or lover, and from the verb amare, to love.
And that explains why we're photographers in the first place, doesn't it? We do in fact love and are passionate about our craft and our art.
Love and passion are wonderful, to be sure. They bring us happiness and fulfill deep needs within us. But they are difficult to sustain, and they often bring other, more difficult emotions to challenge us.
Photography, once you're past the snapshot stage, is an emotional endeavor. And along with the ecstatic moments of finding beauty and serenity, there are also moments of pain, resentment, anger, self-pity, and jelousy.
Just getting started is so hard: Will I be good enough? Is there really anything out there worth shooting today? Do I even have the right equipment? (translation: "Did I buy the right toys?")
I'm sure that part of my motivation in photography is remembering being that 9-year-old kid in Mrs. Baker's 4th-grade class who never seemed to have anything really cool to bring to show-and-tell. Photography is my show-and-tell redux, and I do sometimes get the "oh wow!.." reactions I always craved but never got back then.
The Internet-era equivalent of show-and-tell is the photo forum, where you can post your images, comment on others, and receive comments yourself. Right now, I post regularly to Usefilm.com (see the link to my Usefilm.com portfolio at left.) And here's where the pain, jelousy . amd self-pity comes in: I notice that I seem to get far fewer comments on my photos than do many others. I'll sometimes post a photo that I really love and then check back on it 20 times over the next day or so, only to find three or two or maybe no comments. And suddenly, I'm that nine-year-old again.
And then I get a comment like this:
Hi Steve, many thanks for your kind comments. This is what brought me to your fine portfolio. On looking through it i think you are highly underated. You have some very good work, especially abstracts. This photo is for me also highly underated and i can't understand that. I like the composition and the simpleness of it. I think it is very good and to me tells the story of, end of summer, end of the day, a day out in the park, last of a romance etc etc. Don't be put of by the lack of comments. This IS good work. My compliments Neil
Thanks, Neil - I needed that! Even at age 54, I sometimes still need someone else's assurance that what I'm doing is good.
Maybe I should ask Neil to help me start Serious Amateur Photographers Annonymous (SAPA?)
"Hello, my name is Steve, and I'm a photographer."