We, The Photographers

We, the photographers, exist in various forms. There are different levels and types. From beginner hobbyists to the names that the world recognizes, from serious hobbyists to plain professionals, photographers who click only wildlife to ones who capture water droplets… we are a diverse lot.

Fern Leaf

Types of Photographers

From my perspective, there are a few main levels of expertise and involvement with photography, that we photographers have. I classify the photographers as –

Happy Snapshooters – They are the most common type of photographer. Give them a camera and they are happy shooting anything. From family gatherings to sceneries, while traveling in a vehicle, anything works. They don’t think twice about the various settings. If the photographs come out terrible, it is the fault of the camera. If the photographs are great, they are the best photographers out there. This was the same breed of photographers that touted the 35mm film-based compact cameras and tried clicking photographs of the moon since they could see it beautifully, only to be saddened by the prints later on. All said and done, these happy snapshooters are the ones that have created most of the albums that each household has. After decades pass by, these family snaps are what people love to see rather than the sceneries or macros that most others click.

Beginners – The fresh crop of photographers! These are new to this world and still exploring the various methods to achieve what other advanced photographers achieve. Experiments with motion blurs, macro, various rules of compositions, and mimicking works of other photographers… are some of the ways, they try to learn. Browsing through books, and pouring over user manuals, beginners are the most curious lot.

Gadgeteer – Misled by ‘Great Cameras create Great Photographs’, this breed of photographers believes that its the gear that only matters. Usually evolving from the above level, these photographers believe that buying an advanced camera is all that is required for creating great photographers. In fact, these are the ones that are fueling most of the photography economy. The maximum number of DSLRs and lenses get sold to the gadgeteers. If you happen to see one of our species, touting a big camera, but using the ‘Auto’ mode constantly, it’s most probably a gadgeteer.

Social Journalist – Reminds me of an anecdote I heard sometime back – Father brings home a family pizza overflowing with cheese for dinner. The young kid in the household, with his dirty hands and without saying grace, grabs a piece out of it, only to be slapped hard by the mother. She says, ‘how many times do I have to tell you to take a photograph of the food before grabbing a bite?’
Social journalists are the ones who click photographs for sharing on messaging apps and social media sites. These are the ones who prefer to buy a mobile phone for photography rather than a good camera. Every photograph undergoes tonnes of filters and then gets shared. Lack of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ (read as likes) is the single most demotivating factor.

XYZ Photography (copyrighted) – This is a recent crop of photographers. With the ease of sharing photos, these friends of ours, have a dedicated page for photography. Usually, it is their own name suffixed by the word photography. XYZ photography (substitute XYZ by the name of your photographer friend) along with a prominent watermark on photographs, is their hallmark. The photographs are usually average to look at and sometimes with prominent distractions. However, the likes and comments by followers is a huge boost for their ego. Most such photographers end up with stagnancy in their skills.

Photoshoppers – No, these are not shopping for photos. These are the ones who rely on photo-editing programs to enhance whatever they… ahem… click. Photoshop is one of the most commonly misused tools for this, this breed of ours is called photoshoppers. If you happen to see photographs with ghastly bright colors, dark obvious vignettes, selective coloring, or weird vintage effects like sepia, then these are the photoshoppers. (Photography getting lost to Photo-editing)

Richie Rich(s) – Photography equipment is expensive. Not everyone can afford them. (I have been longing for a Leica rangefinder for the last 20 years or so and yet have not been able to save enough for it… am I a gearhead?) There are people with really deep pockets who own some of the best photography equipment in the world. These are not usually great at photography but definitely have the equipment to be envious of. A colleague of mine uses a very expensive medium format camera to capture his family gatherings while keeping the camera always on ‘full auto’ mode. By the way, his sitting room is larger than my whole house!

Postcarders – These click the photographs most likely to be seen on the postcards. The photographs are beautiful, full of color and impact. Technical errors are few. Their photographs earn the maximum wows and likes from friends and family. Postcarders are always considered ‘photographers who somehow could not become famous’. Every great photographer passes through this phase.

Advanced Photographers – With knowledge comes power. Advanced photographers understand their equipment and know its limits. They may be professional or not, but their grasp of the medium is at par with some of the best ones. The photographs they create are similar to the ones that get printed in coffee-table books, calendars, and magazines.

Artists – These are the ones among us, who have perfected their use of the medium. The photographs speak out and express emotions. These are not just good to look at but they want us to keep on looking, exploring, all the while playing with our feelings. As humans, our emotions are easily brought out by other human elements showing poverty, suffering, compassion, happiness, etc, but the artists are those who bring out our emotions using landscapes, candid moments, portraits, and various other genres. The artists find ways to express themselves in a variety of situations and locations. No place is devoid of interest for them. Sadly, a lot of these photographs do not win any applauds or get printed in magazines and books. However, artists understand their work. Most of the artists I have met have their best creations hidden away from the public and quite frequently these photographers are the least active on social media or other popular platforms.

Barnacles on a dry branch

(Barnacles on a branch – photographed at low tide)

Diseases that affect us –

GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) – This is an advanced stage of the disease that gadgeteers suffer from. We feel like buying more and more lenses, cameras, and accessories. Maybe it is that missing item that is keeping our photography level low? Upgraditis is another version of this disease, where we long to upgrade our existing equipment.

Buyer’s regret – Similar to all others, we photographers, also face buyer’s regret from time to time. After buying a piece of expensive equipment, when the initial excitement dies down, we question ourselves if buying was the right decision? Sometimes the regret comes to haunt us in another way – maybe the other option that we were considering was after all better?

Photographer’s Block – Like the writer’s block, this affects us photographers. Do read this – Photographer’s Block

The literary addiction – The urge to browse forums and popular question-answer sites! The so-called ‘armchair photographers’ are the ones who are seriously affected by this disease.

Many of us may fit into multiple categories at times. Do you or your friends fit into what I feel about us, the photographers?

Further Reading:
Playing with Words

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