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Pro-photographer or Amateur Photographer?

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Being a huge aficionado of photography I often follow several great photography blogs and websites, my favorites of course are those of travel photographers.  Why do I like reading blogs/websites of travel photographers?  The answer is simple, they are photographers who are fortunate enough to travel abroad to far away lands and experience cultures far from what we are accustomed to in the US.  All their experiences in foreign countries are thus transferred to their photographs which captivate the viewer who has perhaps never had the opportunity (and may never have the ability to travel to such places) to visit and travel to such exotic places.  The second reason I enjoy reading blogs from travel photographers is to read about their exploits as well as the deep analytical and philosophical rants/sermons they often give, which I have often found to be a great source of inspiration for me.

The other day I read an article from a favorite photographer of mine, David Du Chemin (sorry if I spelled your name incorrectly).  This guy dedicates his life to his passions of photography and travel and it is reflected in all the amazing photos he has taken traveling all around the world.  The article that I came across was of an analytical nature that examined the all to common issue that most photographers must ask themselves.  I am of course referring to the identity crisis/professional status that plagues many photographers.  I have experienced it myself, when people would ask me about my photography, look at my photos, and then state that I was a professional photographer, to which I would deny and thus proclaim my status as an amateur photographer.

They question is why do many of us (photographers) undersell ourselves?  It's the lack of self-confidence and over comparison of our work with that of so-called "professionals", that we tend not to recognize our own artistic accomplishments.  I often times fall victim to my own aspirations of someday achieving the coveted professional status, that I fail to appreciate the art I have created.  Photography for me is more than just a fun and exciting hobby it's also an outlet for my artistic creativity and imagination, with a camera in my hands I can create unique images that tell stories of the places I have been and the experiences and emotions I have had.  Photography is definitely a learning experience, one where I am sure to be a life student, I learn from my mistakes and as a result I see my photographs evolve with time.  A great way to evaluate your work is to go back and review your very first photos that you ever took and follow them up to your most recently taken photos, this can be scaled down to an observation and review of the photos you have taken over the span of just one year even.  When I do this I am always amazed at how evident my artistic work has progressed.  I am not really worried about ever being a professional photographer but like many I do enjoy the idea of having my work recognized by others (it's that need of all photographers to want to be noticed for what they create).

Here is a extract from Du Chemin's article found on his page, I highly encourage everyone to read it as it is a great source of self empowerment. 

"A while back I wrote a piece about the “I’m only an amateur” mentality. In brief it was an unashamed rally call to photographers everywhere to stop seeing themselves as merely an enthusiast, not yet in the hallowed halls of the professional, and therefore not “really” a photographer. Rubbish. But this is not that pep talk. This is the reverse, the one that, I hope will remind you that this status to which so many aspire, this notion of a higher echelon occupied by the Professional, is equally rubbish. I am an unabashed champion of the amateur, the one who does this for the love of it, and the idea of professionals being better, or creating better work, has to go. I discourage non-professionals from saying, “I’m just an amateur” but I cringe as much when I hear people throw the term “professional” around as though it means something more than it does."



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