Are you a photographer?

It seems like everyone is calling himself a photographer these days. This got me wondering if this really is true.

What is a photographer?

The first question we should ask ourselves is: “What is it that makes you a photographer?”. The answer to this is pretty simple, we can split up the word in two parts. First of we have “photo” which is directly derived from the Greek word “φῶς” (phos), which means “light”. Secondly we have “grapher”, which is derived from the Greek word “γραφή” (graphê), meaning “drawing”. This would mean that anyone who is “drawing with light” is a photographer.

Controversy.

Let’s use an analogy here. Let’s say you buy a guitar and start practicing, does this make you a guitarist? Or better, when do you start to call yourself a “guitarist”? Maybe never, even after years of practicing and becoming pretty good at it.

This is where the controversy comes in. This is why some people would argue that you should only call yourself a photographer if it is something you’re doing to earn money and not just as a hobby like playing the guitar.

Call yourself what you want to be!

It’s all about the mindset. You can call yourself whatever you want to be. It is proven that calling yourself what you want to be has positive effect on your own abilities. If you don’t believe that you are a photographer, how would anyone else believe you are?

If you want to start earning money by taking pictures you’ll probably have to call yourself a photographer because that’s what people will search for if they need pictures taken. This is another reason to call yourself one.

But after all it is all about you, do what you feel best about and don’t let others take you down!

Amsterdam

Last week my girlfriend and I went on a trip to Amsterdam for her birthday. Since  it was meant to be about her birthday and not about photography I decided to only bring my Fujifilm x100s, I knew that this would really limit me but after all it was a great experience.

Since I really hadn’t planned anything photography related I just took pictures while we roamed around in this beautiful city. I just wanted to capture the atmosphere and document our trip.

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How I rediscovered my love for photography.

Last year I got really fed up with photography because of several reasons. I just didn’t feel like going out there. It’s like I had lost all interest in photography. Here are some tips to help you guys get past this stage in your own photographic career.

Go back to the essence of photography.

A camera with a single focal length lens and your eyes. Those are the only things you need to capture those amazing moments. Stop wondering what you could do with this new lens or with that new body with amazing high-iso capabilities. Just shoot with the basics!

A good exercise would be to take your camera lock the ISO and mount a prime lens. You’ll see that you’ll stop thinking about what you could have shot and start focusing on creative solutions because you’re more restricted.

Document your life.

Did you ever sit at home all day thinking about what you want to shoot and you just can’t come up with the perfect idea? Here’s my solution…

It might not sound as the most exciting thing to do but it’ll make you think about what place photography has taken in your life. Bring your camera everywhere you go and you’ll never again have the problem of looking at an amazing sight and wishing you had your camera with you.

A walk with the dog is a perfect opportunity to take it slow and inspect your surroundings a little bit beter than you usually do. Even if you’ve been a thousand times to that place, you’ll find that if you take the time to look around you‘ll still find interesting compositions you’ve never thought about because the place is just so ordinary to you.

Furthermore you’ll have an amazing collection of memories you can pass on to your children and grandchildren.

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(Don’t) look for inspiration.

This is something I struggle a lot with. While sitting at home and looking at thousands of gorgeous pictures I just can’t help feeling jealous. I didn’t find the courage anymore to go shoot myself because of the amazing things others had already captured, I felt like my pictures would just end up in the heap of photos which are just allright.

On the other hand, looking at others peoples work can motivate you to go shoot and try to make their concept better. It can also motivate you to recreate master photographers’ work. No, you won’t make your pictures this way but it’s still a good way to start shooting and to learn more about how the masters work.

If I could go back to being a beginner…

A few days ago I was looking through all of my old pictures and realized that I’ve come a really long way since I first started shooting, even though it took me years to be where I am now. Then I started to think about what would’ve made my life easier when I just started out and so I decided to leave you guys some tips so you wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made.

It’s NOT about the gear.

First of, don’t fall in the trap of the GA-syndrome (Gear Acquisition). When I began shooting more seriously I was always making up excuses why my pictures didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I used to make myself believe that with that new peace of gear I would’ve done a better job at it. This is a big lie because some of my favorite shots nowadays are pictures I shot with a really old DSLR with just a piece of junk kitlens. So just get any camera you can use in a full manual setting and don’t worry about the gear and just think about the composition because that’s what you’re really trying to improve.

Get out there and shoot.

I also let myself believe that I couldn’t go out and shoot because of a million of reasons like: the weather isn’t good, the light isn’t interesting, there’s just nothing to shoot, … All those things don’t matter, at any time of the day or in any weather or light still can still find some interesting compositions. Shooting a lot – and I really mean a hell of a lot – is the only way to improve what you’re doing! Remember, practice does make perfect.

You are good at what you’re doing, don’t let anyone discourage you! 

When I first started I got really discouraged because of the feedback I got, then I stopped for a few weeks and finally picked my camera back up only to get negative feedback again. You really do need a lot of confidence, because there’ll always be people out there that don’t like what you’re doing. In fact that doesn’t even matter, the only person that has to like your work is yourself since that’s the reason you’re shooting. If you keep believing in yourself you’ll eventually make it even though the way to greatness is long and far from easy.