What Makes a Photographer?

It’s funny how everyone tries to tell what you are or aren’t. I spend a lot of time on the internet talking and working with other photographers and artists and every once in awhile I’ll run into a situation where somone is telling another that they are or aren’t this or that. For example some will say you’re not a photographer if you use instagram or if you shoot all your shots with a cell phone. I’ve even heard you’re not a photographer until you’ve shot film. Is there any credence to these claims? What really makes a photographer, after all?

what makes a real photographer

Photo by 55Laney69; ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/320-second exposure.

Ultimately it comes down to who you believe you are. It doesn’t take a certain amount of equipment, prints-sold, clients, or even experience to make you a photographer. Whether you shoot with an iPhone, Nikon F6, or D4 it doesn’t matter — though if you’re shooting with a Nikon D4 I’m very envious of you. If you’re constantly taking pictures and capturing your world then you are a photographer.

If instagram is your medium or if you’re shooting weddings for clients all across the country, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is your drive and love for the art. Being a photographer means sharing your world in your own way.

Do you process your photos or take them and share them straight to your friends via Facebook or Twitter? Either way you’re a photographer. The beauty about photography is that each person who holds a camera has the ability to uniquely capture the world around them. It’s all about sharing and loving the art.

what makes a true photographer

Photo by Wendelin Jacober; ISO 50, f/5.0, 1/125-second exposure.

Chances are if you’re reading this article you’re a photographer, or at least well on your way to becoming one. Happy Shooting.

About the Author:
James Elliott is an award winning photographer and creator of Through the Lens – the art and tech blog curated by himself and others. The site offers more tips, inspiring art, and featured artists.

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12 responses to “What Makes a Photographer?”

  1. Rob-L says:

    What makes a photographer? Easy – A mommy and daddy photographer!

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  3. Marci says:

    I disagree with this. Anyone can take pictures. Not everyone can be a photographer. Not just anyone has the ability to take something mundane and make it magnificent. You’re not a photographer just because you own a DSLR.

  4. Jonathon says:

    I liked your article and I completely agree.

  5. Simon says:

    I completely agree since this isn’t an article about what makes a GOOD photographer.
    Anyone who takes photos is doing exactly what a photographer does… photography.
    The division between those who can make magnificent pictures and those who simply take pictures is another debate about what makes ‘good’ photography.

  6. Christine says:

    I enjoyed this article and I agree. I also agree with Simon that what makes a GOOD photographer is another debate. I am currently taking online courses for photography but have been taking pictures since I was 14 years old. I get extremely offended when people say “just because you own a DSLR doesn’t make you a photographer”. It has nothing to do with the camera! Did I consider myself less of a photographer BEFORE I owned a DSLR? No.

  7. Ray says:

    Marci: disagree entirely, Simon: agree entirely and would go even further, a ‘good’ photograph is also heavily subjective, in fact ‘subjectiveness’ is what makes the art world so diverse and unpredictable. If an individual ‘likes’ an image and thinks it is ‘good’ then it is (that simple) and vice-versa.

  8. Damon says:

    One of many interesting questions with no answer to discuss over a glass of wine and a joint. Also: What is Art? Is photography Art? Should anyone with a camera be allowed to call themselves a Professional Photographer? Oh wait. That one has an easy answer.

  9. Richard says:

    Photography is an art form that lets people choce what they like to take photos of. The camera is JUST
    a tool to help you get that shot you wanted. It don’t mattter if your useing an old browny hawkeye or a $3,000 camera. IT”S THE GUY BEHIND THAT camera and how he can use HIS skill to the best advanage of the camera he is useing. LEARN HOW TO REALLY SEE THE SUBJECT that everyone else
    see’s, but you can SEE it different and make it an eye grabber. Train your EYES and use your sliil, learn
    to use your camera and it’s functions. Thats a true photogrpher to me, Always try for learning new ways to show your work. Mr. Wilson

  10. Good article James. It goes along with the FACT that the camera does NOT make the photograph. The PHOTOGRAPHER makes the photograph. Whether it is a “good” photograph or not is subjective to the viewer. [unless of course the light is bad {or not there} or if there is no composition or focal point…you get what I’m saying…that is if “you’re a photographer” ] I see a lot of photos that I don’t care for but that are technically great… there is a lot of art I personally don’t like; yet it is to some great art. The same with music…To the naysayers, who just have to voice their negative opinion [ because they live a negative life…] A photographer is a person who has an interest in creating a photograph of something they’ve seen…and the desire to pick up the camera of their choice, that is w/in their financial means, and create this photograph.
    btw James, I tried to go to the blog “through the lens” and was unable to access it by way of not having permission to view?
    Good article though.

  11. Bob Gancio says:

    Thanks so much for the article. A few months ago I took my cameras out of my car and put them in my office due to ridicule and comments about me not being a photographer or not having the nerve to go pro.
    This evening they are back in my car and if anyone has a comment I will ask them to show me their work,or simple recording of a day out shooting.
    Thank you very much, Sincerely Bob Gancio

  12. Frankie Cruz says:

    Well said and thank you, to me photography is a hobby something I do to relax and unstress my life I’m not in it for the money fame or anything else my mistakes will be mine to make and with the help of this website and a few others I will improve.

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