I did a talk a few days ago at Sheffield Hallam University about being a photographer and I though I would share a few of the thoughts here.
Over the last couple of years I have been questioning the idea of the “Professional Photographer” and it has become a frustrating idea to me. The idea of Professional Photographer has almost become something sell able, selling the idea of being the a “Professional”. Even educational institutions sell this idea of the “Professional” and i think in some ways it misses the point of photography. I am in no way dismissing the need to understand and learn how to do photography professionally, but in selling this idea you encourage people to focus on being a “Professional”.
In my own experience over the last ten years I have often focused so much on being a “Professional” that my practice, and life, have suffered. Forsaking my passions in a bid to make money and a career. I personally feel that I have not developed as much as if I had just followed my passion from the get go. The pressure to make this a career almost left me with a dislike for photography.
During my talk I posited the idea of being A Photographer and NOT a Professional Photographer. Many of my photographic inspirations, Joel Meyerowitz, David Alan Harvey, Thomas Dowrzak all started of by just being photographers. Using photography as a way to tell stories, explore the world and to document issue that they were passionate about. Their careers as “Professional Photographers” ended up being a by-product of their photography.
My realisation over the last few years is that I would rather full-fill my potential as a photographer than have a successful professional career.
Be the best photographer you can be and the rest will follow.
If this blog post has made any sense and you have any thoughts on the matter send me an email or leave a comment.