Essay–You Know You’re a Photographer When…

reading for Agnes 022

I like just blending into my surroundings like a fox in foliage.

Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture. That doesn’t make someone a photographer because photography is a way of life and a way of seeing the world. You know when you’re a photographer when you gaze like a lens at the world–whether that’s a macro or wide-angle lens. You see the world through colored filters and you find photo opportunities literally everywhere.

So how do you know if you have a photographer’s soul?

  • If someone stole your camera, you would deeply mourn the loss
  • You’re often late for appointments because you had to stop several times along the way to take photographs
  • You see beauty, humor, or drama in situations ignored by others
  • You deeply enjoy gazing at other photographers’ work
  • You adapt to a camera like a duck to a pond
  • You see the world in vibrant color or in black & white
  • Everyone’s face interest you
  • You tell a visual story
  • You also love cinema and always comment on the photography
  • You swoon when exposed to photographs you adore
  • You regret leaving your camera at home (feels like torture when you don’t have it)

I grew up with an amateur photography father. And at the age of ten my mother gave me her Kodak Instamatic camera which then led to an interest in photography. By the time I was in high school, I studied photography and was a photographer for the school paper. I continued studying photography in college and this was back when photographs developed in a dark room filled with sulfur smelling chemicals, which stuck to your skin and clothing. Later, I also modeled for student photographers and I enjoyed being on the other side of the camera too at that time.

When digital photography came along, I resisted like a true Luddite. Then later I felt in awe of people who knew their way around a digital camera. I laugh now. And I leave you with the question, are you a photographer or just someone who enjoys taking selfies or preserving memories? Not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, it’s just that a true photographer is an artist with a mission for sharing beauty or visual stories with the world. Photographers communicate with us through the photographic medium.