What Makes a Photographer in the Age of Mass Photography?

As part of if its Brief But Spectacular series, PBS News Hour published this short three-minute video of photographer Ken Van Sickle explaining what his thoughts are on the question, what makes a photographer when everyone is taking pictures?:

Van Sickle started his journey in photography more than six decades ago, documenting the bohemian life of New York and Paris in the 1950s and ’60s. Interestingly, he says,

“When I was in Paris, I was 23 I think and I wanted to shoot everything I saw. But I didn’t have enough money to buy like more than like a roll of film every two weeks.”

Ken Van Sickle explaining what makes a photographer

Ken Van Sickle captured this image of the Jazz great Chet Baker at the American Club

“I am not a concerned photographer. I am not trying to prove anything in any way politically or otherwise. I am interested in beauty and sort of the subtle moments of everyday life.”

Ken Van Sickle interview

Another of Van Sickle’s captures

“There are a lot of things that make a good photograph. You have to think about texture and gesture and composition—all the things that painting has in it.”

“Technology doesn’t change the way photography is. It makes it available to more people which means there going to be much much more really terrible pictures taken or pictures that are totally dependent on subject which is all all right.”

Ken Van Sickle speaking to PBS News Hour

‘The Regular’

“I mean if you there when the Hindenburg caught on fire and you took a picture – that’s a great photograph. But you are not a great photographer because you can’t repeat that in everyday things. What a great photographer does is that they are consistently able to make something in a style that’s personal to themselves.

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