I am no professional. Not in anything…except maybe sarcasm or the art of being British. Rather than being a professional, I like to say that I am an avid and ever-learning fan. An ALF. I am an ALF of photography.
My adoration of photography comes from my dad who loves taking photos. It’s a running joke in our family that we sometimes spend more time posing for photos than actually living the moment – He has dozens of boxes full of prints and cds full of his treasured memories and there is something incredibly special about reliving captured moments. I used to despise having my photo taken and from the age of 12-16 I was sullen and overtly critical about it. Yet when I turned 17, I got a crummy little Canon (it had that magical colour picker feature which I loved back then) and I took hundreds of photos at University. Then, before moving to Cape Town, I got a Canon 11000D and I started to notice an almost dependency on having my camera with me and realized that I was indeed my Father’s daughter.
Now I have a 7D and 3 substantial lenses as well as a few shoots under my belt. I have been photo-consumed hook-line-and sinker. It is my love and I am hoping to succeed with photography as a career for I quote Confucious, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s not easy though, there are so many photographers in South Africa who are marvelous and I am working this around my job in the wine industry and writing. I have had some amazing support from friends and family but I have also noticed that few creative professions are so undervalued as photography and I can see that it’s going to be an uphill struggle to get ahead.
My observations are as follows and I would love to know if any other photographers feel the same:
– But your camera does the work? People seem to have a strange assumption that one merely points and shoots. That’s like me saying that a writer simply picks up a pen and sonnets are born or a singer opens her mouth and you’re hit with a voice of an angel – no prior thought is needed. No practice. No equipment. There is no need to value these creative people because they simply let their equipment do all the work – anyone can pick up a camera, take the lens cap off, pick a spot and click a button. This is so ignorant, have you thought about whether the photographer has worked out the lighting? Whether the point of focus was spot on? What about aperture? To say that a photographer merely replies on his tools is to degrade us absolutely.
– But you edit the photos anyway? We enhance the photos. Yes, you can take a bad photo and change it tremendously using sophisticated image software (Lightroom, Photoshop) but a dedicated photographer, for instance, a great wedding photographer will merely tweak what is already a solid pic.
– You’re only working for a few hours, why should I pay you that much? Do you honestly believe that for a photo shoot a photographer turns up on the day, takes photos, leaves and then promptly hands you the finished photos the next day? Days of planning goes into a shoot; What will the weather be like on the day? What do the clients look like and what are their best angles (yes, I do stalk)? What poses can we incorporate? What does the location look like? And then during the shoot, the photographer directs their clients and afterwards, they painstakingly go through every image to put together the perfect collection. It’s labor-intensive work. Please don’t down-play it.
– You put the photo online so you’ve lost all artist’s privilege to the image and I can use it when I want. I fortunately am not in a position to have anyone steal my work but I have heard the stories and am amazed that people assume that if an image is online, it is theirs. Watermarks help so far but again, if you’re skilled enough, you can remove someone’s markings from a photo.
For all those who continually support and brag about me *blushes* thank you and for anyone else in the same boat, I’d love to know your thoughts.