What makes a photographer?

What makes someone a photographer? Is it owning a professional camera? Or a standalone camera at all? Is it registering with the state and obtaining the proper licensing? Is it having a certain number of shutter clicks under your belt? It is attending workshops? Is it having some sort of degree or certificate?

I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think the answer is much simpler. Those things might make the difference of whether you’re a professional photographer or a certified photographer or an amateur photographer, or even whether you’re a good photographer. Dictionary.com defines “photographer” this way:

1. a person who takes photographs

You see, it doesn’t matter what type of camera you use or even how often you use it. If you invest the time to take the photo, you’re a photographer. In this digital age of smartphones (my current iPhone has more megapixels than my first two pro level DSLRs), I would venture to say we’re all photographers.

Everyone I know loves to take pictures, even if they consist almost entirely of selfies. We are all documenting our lives visually these days and photography has never been more alive. Are all of those images worthy of framing and hanging on a wall? They are if you love them.

Like all art, there’s no such thing as good or bad. It’s simply a matter of perspective. Some art speaks to me and some doesn’t.

I’ve been using my iPhone exclusively for the past month as my “pro” camera was sent off to Fujifilm for servicing just before Thanksgiving. This year’s Christmas photos will be shot on my phone. That won’t make them any less meaningful to my family.

So, whether you’re using a film camera, DSLR, mirrorless, or your phone, take the picture. Enjoy photography.

Images shot with my iPhone 8+.

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