These days with smartphones, camera phones and advanced pocket sized Point & Shoots everybody can aspire to be a photographer. As a matter of fact most do. Thanks to all the social media platforms that are also available now to fuel our ego these amateur photographers start to believe that they are real good at taking photos.
But does having a smartphone with 13 million pixels and a dedicated bandwagon of fan-following on Instagram that seems to be appreciative about even the obscurest of snaps make us true photographers? I doubt it. It’s one thing to be appreciated by your friends and family, but another to be appreciated by your peers.
Digital technology does have some benefits. The level of instant gratification is something that was unthinkable two decades back. It is the primary reason why there are so many good photographers around these days and the fact why there is such a spurt in the number of photos made. On the flip side though the same digital technology and the ability to manipulate images makes us lazy and unappreciative of the basic fundamentals of photography.
But there is a breed of photographers who understand what it takes to be a real photographer. They silently toil away at their craft, mastering it, perfecting it and creating their own identity. For them constructive criticism from a fellow photographer is a much better source of motivation than the unsolicited “wow, great shot man!” from a stranger.
So how do you know you are a photographer? How do you know that you are a cut above the rest of the trigger-happy populace? Here’s how.
The honeymoon isn’t over yet
It’s more than a year you bought your camera and yet you still go to bed thinking about it. You dream about it in your sleep. When you wake up it is the first thing on your mind. Your camera is a point of fixation for you. Every time you look at it you feel good about yourself and it seems to make every other boring detail of life obscure. Every time you hit the road with it, you feel you are truly liberated. Making images is more than just a way to express yourself. It becomes your life. It gives you an immense feeling of joy when you think you can make your hobby your profession.
You see images around you
They say true photographers can ‘identify’ an image the instant they look at it. What feels like the mundane routine of daily life to a non-photographer becomes the source of a great image for a photographer. Moments that average people (read: non-photographers) quickly pass over or don’t even bother to take note of, photographers can create magical awe-inspiring photos from.
Your camera is the first thing that goes into your bag when packing
How many times have you been guilty of this? I bet too many. While packing for a quick getaway or a long vacation or even a weekend hiking trip, your camera is always the first things that goes inside your bag. To be honest it is not the only photography equipment that you pack either. You also carry an extra set of lens apart from the one you always have on your camera, a bunch of filters, memory cards, extra set of batteries and of course your tripod. Just to add, it is also the first thing that comes out of the bag, both when you arrive at your destination and when you are back home.
When you have a photo in your mind you can’t rest until you have captured it
Once in a while you have this vision of an image. Once you have it you can’t rest until you have captured it. You leave no stone unturned in order to capture that photo. Even if it means taking a week off to hike to the top of the tallest mountain in your country and dragging another 15 people with you to get that single shot.
Your greatest happiness is when someone you admire as a photographer appreciates your work
A lot of photographers do what they do because they love the money. A lot of them are very successful and that’s a great thing too. Money is something that is tangible and puts food on the table. It is a source of motivation and gives immense satisfaction at the end of the day. However, for someone who is doing this not for the money but essentially for self-gratification money fails to motivate. The greatest source of satisfaction for them is peer recognition. When you are admired by the people you look up to or work with, you have the greatest sense of achievement as a photographer.