15: Do you call yourself a photographer?

This is something I struggle with quite often. I have never called myself a photographer and feel quite anxious when others say that I am one, or ask if I am one.

“Are you a photographer?”
“No, but I make photos.”

Maybe it is because I feel conflicted about how carelessly the label “photographer” is thrown around. It seems now-a-days anyone with a camera is a photographer. Sometimes I feel irked by this, but other times I think about how incredible it is that such an inclusive art-form exists. Folks who aren’t artistically inclined as painters, drawers, or sculptures (like me) are able to express themselves.

But why do I not see myself as a photographer? I’ve had my work in two gallery exhibitions, I work with a professional multimedia artist by taking large format stills for her, I am a teaching assistant for University level photography, and I excelled in my photography classes as a student. I’ve also done many commercial shoots. Yet, I can’t bring myself to say I am a photographer.

Perhaps it is the commodification associated with it. It’s always, “oh, you take photos? Tell me about what gear you use.” Well, my answer to that is “my eyes”. It’s about pulling personality into the photograph. It’s about capturing a moment in time. It’s about feeling something so strongly that it’s hard to catch your breath again.

Does anyone else have this problem? Perhaps it feels too elitist to be labeled. I’d rather just be seen a person who loves to see the world through a lens.

xx mvb

p.s. recent fave photog quote: “any photographer who says he is not a voyeur is either stupid or a liar.” — Helmut Newton (It’s so true! Wouldn’t it be neat to be invisible? Perhaps a TLR will do.)

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