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Old Mar 12, 2012, 6:07 PM   #1
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Default Just a little rant for discussion.

“Amateur!” Why is this an insult? I am an amateur photographer, I take pictures because I want to, I love to work in the medium, it brings me joy. Are these somehow unworthy feelings? Should I feel inferior because I am not a “professional”?

Think about it, most of the “Red carpet” shots taken at awards galas and movie premieres are from “professionals”. These hard working pros jostle for position and shout for the attention of some celebrity so that they can take a direct-flash snapshot to sell to a magazine or photo service. Yes it is hard work but the only value of the image is in its content, artistry is only a consideration in the post processing where they endeavour to make the most of these poorly lit grab images. It is their job and the good ones get paid very well, that makes them professional. It is not an easy job and it rewards perseverance and quick thinking but it is not producing art, it is recording celebrity.

I admire the work of photojournalists, portrait photographers, event photographers, landscape photographers, wildlife photographers, wedding photographers and countless other professional categories too numerous to list. I just get a little annoyed when an amateur photographer is seen as an inferior just because he or she is missing the paycheque. Being paid for something means you should be good at it, not being paid does not imply that you are not good, it just means you aren’t being paid!

I am an amateur photographer. I have sometimes been paid for my work but it will never be my main income. I enjoy it.
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Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Old Mar 12, 2012, 6:08 PM   #2
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Just to clarify, many professionals become professionals because they have talent (a good "eye") and the ability/desire to acquire the necessary skills (technical knowledge). These are true artists as are many amateurs. (I am not referring to camera geeks, of which I may sadly be one, they just like the technology but don't necessarily have the "eye" to go with it)
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http://aicphotography.blogspot.com/
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Current equipment
Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Old Mar 12, 2012, 6:34 PM   #3
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Ira,

I never consider "amateur" an insulting term, it merely distinguishes someone who makes their living as a photographer from one who does not. Additionally, I like to think of many folks on these sites as "enthusiasts," a term that conveys a positive creative and technical approach to photography rather than a rather clinical term relative to employment.

Having said that, some people do use "amateur" in a pejorative sense, and I usually just ignore them.

One enthusiast's opinion
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Old Mar 12, 2012, 6:56 PM   #4
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Well said.
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Riverview, NB, Canada
http://aicphotography.blogspot.com/
_______________________________
Current equipment
Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Old Mar 12, 2012, 8:47 PM   #5
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I think of myself as an amateur proudly - I take pictures for the love of it. I'm always learning new things and that keeps it fun.

Some people, especially those who aren't photography enthusiasts, don't understand that many times the main difference between a pro and an amateur is the paycheck - oftentimes the quality of work is just as good. Frankly, I wouldn't want to be a pro since it would take all the fun out of it (having to sell your work, deal with agents, try to create good pictures of boring topics on commission, work with jittery brides and others, etc.). Long, unsociable hours.

There's a big billboard on the way into Vegas advertising a photographer who has galleries in several casinos. I would guess he's pretty successful since he can afford a billboard advert. So I went to his website to take a look at his photos - he had quite a few taken at Antelope Canyon and there wasn't much difference between a couple of his and a couple of mine that I posted here a while ago. So while many of his pictures just blew me away, I realized that I was capable (if given the same situation) of matching his quality. That doesn't mean that I would, many of them had unique perspective that I wouldn't have thought of, but that I would be capable of it. That both gave me confidence in where I'm at with photography and made me realize that I need to practice a whole bunch more on a number of things.
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Old Mar 15, 2012, 8:09 PM   #6
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Have always heard that the derivation of the word amateur is the latin for "one who loves." So amateur must mean we love what we are doing...
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Old Mar 15, 2012, 10:14 PM   #7
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Yes, that's right. We are involved in photography for the love of it, not because we are being paid for it. Of course, many pros love what they do (or at least got into the business out of love) as well. But money can ruin things. For the lucky pros, that's not the case. No, amateur is not a bad word.
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Old Mar 16, 2012, 11:38 AM   #8
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Elitists (and some professionals) are the only ones who use "amateur" as a derogatory term, as they consider themselves superior to (or maybe threatened by?) the target of their scorn.
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 7:51 PM   #9
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I am not bumping this post, instead I think I can make this a regular event, a little philosophical rant every week or so while I live through Pentax withdrawal.

I currently find myself in an unusual photographic dichotomy. On the one hand I am seeking some degree of what is sometimes called purism in photography. As I understand it, purism involves treating the act of capturing an image as the end in itself. In simple terms, the street photographer who shot black and white film with a rangefinder camera and then printed the results without undo manipulation, was a typical example.

To be a “digital purist” one must similarly not alter the image as captured, nor interfere with the scene being captured. To this end I have been experimenting with the simple process of setting a camera in jpeg mode to its highest ISO, in black and white and with a prime lens. This form of limitation simulates the film experience I started this hobby with and forces me to view the world differently, to concentrate on composition by moving and reframing rather then standing there and zooming. Without the distraction of colour the images takes on new significance and has an atmosphere often masked by colour.

I did say there was a dichotomy here so how does this swing the other way? Aside from my delving into the purist approach I have begun to more heavily post process some of my images. Here you can see the philosophical dilemma, on the one hand the pure image, touched only by the technology built into the camera (the mark of the tool), yet on the other hand I am changing as many parameters as necessary to create an image which is so far from the purist ideal. Heavily manipulated images have an allure based on their distance from objective reality. So many modern photographic applications, especially the smart phone "apps" have gained popularity for this very reason, everything from simulated pinhole photography to HDR and beyond. Strangely the result is quite enjoyable.

Now before you write me off as a pseudo-intellectual hack who is constantly trying to sound philosophical, please keep in mind that the majority of my photography is made up of simple snapshots of friends, family and the places I have been, as I would hope most of yours are. (People who go on family vacations and try to take great “art shots” of landmarks, while missing the opportunity to include the family, should visit the local gift shop and buy a postcard since most of the great art shots have already been done. It will be the pictures that contain the people who mean something to you that will become images that mean something to you. But, I digress.) Beyond the record of my life are the images that I enjoy for their own sake because they were fun to create, whether through the purist route or the post processing route. These are the images that make photography a real hobby, and it doesn’t matter if you are using the latest iPhone app on your 4S or you just bought a roll of Tri-X for that Leica M3 you have always wanted. When you create images that you want to look at again and again while others may look once and scratch their heads, you have crossed that threshold from snapshooter to enthusiast. And who knows, Henri Cartier-Bresson had to start somewhere.
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Ira
Riverview, NB, Canada
http://aicphotography.blogspot.com/
_______________________________
Current equipment
Pentax K5, K3:
FA 35mm f2, FA 50 f1.4, FA 28-70mm f4, FA 28-80mm f3.5-5.6, F 50mm f1.7, Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di, DA 10-17 f3.5-4.5, DA 14 f2.8, DA 16-45mm f4, DA 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 WR, DA 50-200mm f4-5.6 WR, AF-540FGZ

Olympus E-P2, E-P5, OM-D E-M1: 9mm to 150mm lenses

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Last edited by Monza76; Mar 30, 2012 at 7:55 PM.
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Old Mar 30, 2012, 10:03 PM   #10
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Coincidentally, I've been using, I guess more of a purist approach given your definition, lately.

With my K10D and KM I usually do a fair amount of post processing...cropping, contrast, light, etc. as I find I'm not satisfied with my initial photo.

But I find the K-5 to be a different animal. To begin with the resolution is significantly higher than both these older Pentax's.

I've also found that as a result I'm loath to post process, then save as it cuts down the resolution.

I've also found the K-5's exposure, colour rendition is much better...as is...then the two older Pentax.

As a result I'm finding that I'm much more careful with my framing...as I don't want to post process or crop at all. The K-5 does such a great job right out of the box that I can't imagine improving on it.

Therefore the only thing left to do would be to crop...and in order to avoid much or any of that...I've been much more careful with my composition and framing.

So...inadvertently I've been more of a 'purist'....and hopefully a better photographer.... I suppose than I was before.
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