Photographic Memory

419463_3023884438639_405342396_nOnce upon a time I was a photographer.
Semi-professional.

I bought the fancy camera.  I had the lenses, the filters, the lighting.  I set up a professional studio.  I spent a fortune on editing software and printers.  Business cards were created, scraped, and recreated.  Tens of thousands of dollars spent to make a name for myself.

301000_2262599526992_1384118705_nAfter three failed portrait sessions I realized clients were too high maintenance for the little pay they would reluctantly offer.  It was no great loss my passion was nature anyway.

I had a photo picked up by CNN.  There were a few published in magazines, one in a book.  I won half a dozen awards or so.  My photos were starting to sell.215_1016401412818_2687_n

The more people who saw my photos, however, the more I started to hate them.  As I spent more time at art shows and in galleries with my work and the work of others I came to a haunting realization.  Any person with a digital camera could take a photo just like mine.

6092_1162238178646_8039652_nIt didn’t matter that I had spent years honing my craft.  It didn’t matter that I had spent countless hours in classes and in darkrooms to learn the technical aspect of photography.  It didn’t matter that I had spent a small fortune to reach my goals.  It mattered least that I could consistently produce good work.

I learned quickly the true meaning of the proverb that claims even a blind pig kicks an apple once in a while.  No one wants to spend $150 on professional work when they can reproduce the work on their own time.  Suddenly, everybody and their brother was a fauxtographer.  Suddenly, I couldn’t bear to pick up my camera.376289_2430607327082_373775149_n

Perhaps I am jealous.  Maybe I am bitter.  I am, without a doubt, pissed off.

I trained myself as a photographer.  I taught myself how to consistently produce quality work.  A fauxtographer picks up a camera and might snap a “quality” shot every 100 images or so.  Yet, they can turn around and sell that one photo for the same price as my well thought out one.

394967_2578457463243_1795760573_nI can pick up my camera no longer.  It sits discarded in a corner of my office.  Occasionally I will come across it and I look at it in disgust before pushing it aside once more.  Sometimes I think I should sell it.  Other times I want to slam it into the concrete and watch it explode into the broken shards of a million dreams.

More often than not, though, I just try to forget.

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4 comments

  1. I ignore the fauxtograhers. Who cares if they get lucky? Photography is my passion, as is my writing, and I’m not going to let amateurs ruin something I love.

    1. I hope to be able to touch on it again one day. I am pursuing other passions at the moment but I still have faith that I will be able to return to my original love one day in the future.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I will keep them in mind next time I pick up my camera!

  2. Congratulations on the realization – but please don’t put the camera down.

    I have been into photography since high-school; which I hate to say was over 40-years ago. It is still my one expensive hobby and (in addition to blogging) creative outlet. I’ve got all kinds of fancy professional equipment too. I do a lot of “commissions”, mostly for local non-profit groups, and my stuff is published and displayed publicly on a regular basis because of this.

    The thing is though; I am strictly an amateur and proud of it. I NEVER ask for money for anything that I do and I will turn it down if offered. I have enormous respect for the true full-time professionals, and when someone offers me money I say; if this job is worth money to you, hire a “real” photographer, not me.

    I have no respect for those you call the fauxtographers however, who have nothing but a slick web page with crappy work, and ugly watermark over the middle of their crappy work and the balls to ask people for money for their crappy work. I still get a kick out of my hobby though, and I am happy to do my volunteer commissions to exercise that hobby, and a lot of places are happy with both my results and the price too. It also amuses me to see that my stuff can be better than much of what comes from those “semi-professionals”. I consider it my mission to promote the value of the real pros and shame the fauxtographers.

    1. Thank you for your kind words!

      I am hoping that once things calm down for me I will once again have the time and the patience to dedicate myself to my hobby again. I do often miss the experience and the “high” I used to get from practicing.

      Right now, I am just too bitter and have so little time that I only frustrate myself further.

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