Journal of a photographer
When I first started doing photography I took pictures of everything. I practiced the fundamentals (I still do) of sunsets, lighthouse sunrises, sea smoke, landscape, action, wildlife, and people. You name it I played with my camera in many environments just to learn. ( I still do) Eventually I started paying attention to myself so that I could “be in touch” with what I really enjoyed, what was I passionate about, what did I get excited about? I began to narrow that down and ...today I mostly do only what I love to do. I have found that it is important for me to be excited about the process. It’s personal… I try never to lose sight of that. I am a loner to extremes. Networking is not my “thing” although I am told over and over again how important that is??? I spend a tremendous amount of time outside. It is not an exaggeration to say I am outside 4-5 days a week in all weather for 5-10 hours at a stretch. I track in the woods and on rivers sitting quietly and observing for hours. I’ve been chased by fisher cats and carry pepper spray, especially in the spring. (I am quite concerned about bears right now.) When I need a break I head to a city to “get away” from everything and play with my version of street photography. Yesterday I traveled west and ended up in the woods and river quite some distance from our house. It was a great day. I was in solitude, I was surprised by nature, I observed, learned, and captured images that fuel my love for photography and the lifestyle I’m so blessed to enjoy.
Photography, Lyme disease and thoughts...
I’ve had many thoughts reeling around in my mind which I’ve wanted to write about. Photography, Christianity, despair, ongoing grief, life, marriage, and a new grandchild en route are only some of the things I’ve been thinking about. In my mind I’ve written full blogs, complete with sarcasm, honesty, and humor. But alas, my Lyme disease has gotten the better part of me causing tiredness, confusion, and procrastination. As a result I’ve done plenty of contemplating and had time for personal evaluation of my past year.
Having Lyme disease feels, at times, like depression...or worse yet, (my Achilles’ heel), having Alzheimer’s. Not prone to whining or seeking a doctor, I have found it to be a bit crippling and downright annoying! I have bursts of energy and work steady for a few hours only to have that followed by days of sitting, resting, and diminished focus. I don’t nessecarily think of myself as having chronic Lyme but since being diagnosed last July I have times that I just hit a wall for days or weeks. I am learning to adjust… but I refuse to get overly analytical or neurotic.
I have had good days. I’ve been able to go out and find eagles. I’ve observed waterfowl. I’ve walked new paths and come across big cat paws. I’ve met some wonderful people in the past weeks. They have told me stories about themselves and have been encouraging towards me and my lifestyle of photography. They’ve told me about places they’ve discovered “along the beaten paths.”
I often run into people who pull out their smart phones and start to show me all of their pictures. I hardly ever show people my pictures. Most don’t ask to see them, but they see my camera and assume that I want to see their pictures, which I find interesting. I am a study of character, personalities, and a person’s peculiar estimation of themselves. I do at times have to pull myself away from some “longwinded” grandiosity.
Pictures, pictures, and more pictures. “Are you a photographer?” This is a question, not only asked of me but one that I have given considerable thought to. What is a photographer? Who calls themselves a photographer and why? What makes a person a photographer? It’s not a good time to “be” a photographer, as the world is full of pictures. Iphones, smart phones, social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Audubon, National Geographic, magazines, and the list goes on ad nauseam. Everybody, or at least 1 in 5 people, is a photographer. The word itself as found in the dictionary doesn’t help to define the matter; a person who takes photographs, especially one who practices photography professionally.
Wikipedia offers a better explanation or one that better describes the word photographer:
“A photographer (the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning “light” and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”, together meaning “drawing with light” is a person who takes photographs.”
An artist of sorts… Pure, edited, manipulated, or not photography is more than a hobby and more than just a picture. It is an obsession and a way of life. Photographers think about photography all the time. When we see something, when we travel, when we plan, when we read a magazine or watch TV our minds are pondering how, what, where, when, and capturing a scene. Many, like me, consider what speed or iso was used to capture a picture that we may admire. Photography is more than simply taking a picture; it is a focused, practiced, and disciplined craft/art.
Yet in this day and age, with just about everyone being a photographer, it is competitive, cut throat, and snarky. It is veneered with “niceness,” pride, and clicks that in some ways reminds me of adult high school. "Are you published?" "What equipment are you using?" "How did you edit that?" "Have you met so and so?" Once I was on a beach photographing and was asked, “who do you represent?” as though my credentials meant something. To me nobodies’ credentials mean much. Once a photographer is deemed as popular, they're always popular. Even when a new photograph is not very good, critics continue to hand out positive feedback, while the social media world of validation give out mindless thumbs up and “likes.”
Many so called photographers want handouts on others work and edits. They see something they like, they follow crowds of favored photographers, and they flood landscapes for sunsets, sunrises, and established preferred in demand pictures. I appreciate that for gaining understanding on how our own camera works and advancing personal knowledge, but let’s face it... learning how to photograph requires perseverance, growth, and blood, sweat and tears. As my husband can attest to it is not without meltdowns and disappointment.
I am a photographer, I am a book publisher, and I am a writer. Good, bad, indifferent, or rejected it has to be a passion. It cannot be about seeking others' approval. It is art. It is intimate. It is sincerity shared.
SIDE NOTE: This is not meant against my FB friends who share their wonderful pictures of family, kids, and animals. I love to see your life! This is about a different segment of people.