The following is a GUEST POST I did on the awesome lbobi (little blog of big ideas), which is the killer blog of photographers Jeff and Allison Rodgers. (Check them out!) The following story is ALL TRUE. And, Photographers--I KNOW you'll relate.
PREFACE: Girl falls in love with photography at age 8, spends all of high school and college with a camera at her side, and then gleefully makes it her livelyhood, career and daily source of continuing education, learning something new about it (and thus, herself) each and every day with the wholehearted understanding that her craft is a lifelong evolution, refining itself and improving itself with every single click, for the duration of an art-filled life. [or, insert similar backstory]
Fast forward to today. Phone rings (or Facebook dings) and you have the voice of your smug client/stagemom/grandma-thrice-removed on the line, and she's just seen your latest portrait sesh on the interwebz. Feels the need to weigh in. Great! Your heart soars, getting ready for the inevitable compliment on your clearly genius photographic wizardry (what other conclusion could she possibly come to!) But instead she says, "Those pictures are so nice. I really need a new camera. Please send me the name of your camera so I can buy it, I'm so excited to take pictures just like you."
wiza-wiza-HALT. (The DJ in your head that creates the soundtrack to your life-movie scratches to a stop with a Ffffft.)
UM.LADY.It 'AINT the camera!!!!
It 'aint the CAMERA who took that picture that you love! It is ME who takes that cool picture! ME who conceived of the idea, ME who sees the angle, ME who chose this time of day specifically for the perfect light, ME who sets the shutterspeed and aperture for desired effect, ME who directs the subject matter or catches it on the fly (just so), ME who knows how to process the film or file, ME who manages the color, contrast, grain and output, ME who picks the best way to honor the picture with the appropriate art/print/product/medium. It's ME! ME and MY peepers that I SEE with! But, of COURSE, you don't say that, at least not out loud.
To take offense at my Step-Aunt-Cousin-in-Law's ignorance would be to MISS THE WHOLE POINT of choosing a life as a photographer. Which (finally) brings me the POINT of my rant. When this happens, I instead quickly remember to giggle good-naturedly, and take her proverbial hand. I begin to walk her through the process of the art I love so much, and why her pictures will look differently from mine, though they'll be no less "good". I teach her that if she too embraces the process of using photography as an expression--the humblest and most beautiful yet cathartic art form--then she TOO can take pictures that make others go "WOW!" but it won't be because they look like my pictures, it will be because they look completely and utterly HER. As image-makers, it is KEY to remember this every single day.
If you can forget trying to out-do or be jealous of your peers and focus on the way your photography showcases what YOU see through YOUR unique peepers, you will be overjoyed and tremendously fulfilled by everything you produce.
This is why we COLLABORATE and inspire each other. This is why we share and gab! This is why we tweet to each other! This is why I dial in lbobi.com every day! THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT! Isn't that fantastic? I'm so grateful for every one of my fellow photographers! You guys KICK a**.