Being a photographer is a lifestyle. And whether you are a professional or an amateur, there are plenty of situations we can all relate to.
Have you ever wondered what makes you a photographer? The answer to that question might be a little more complicated than you would expect. However, as I was thinking about how to differentiate a true photographer from a random person with a camera, I realized all photographers share some habits that separate us from the rest of the world.
So, I wanted to make a different, fun post to try to fill the blank in the phrase “you know you’re a photographer when ______.” And here is what I came up with:
1. You understand lighting is more important than the camera
Photography is all about light, not the equipment. Not even the most sophisticated and expensive camera could save a poorly lit photo. Therefore, you must learn to set the proper exposure, read the histogram, and comprehend how light behaves in space so you can use it to your advantage.
2. You don’t mind getting your clothes dirty to capture the perfect angle for your photo
Every good photographer will do anything for the picture. It doesn’t matter if that means lying on the ground or perching on a wall while sweating. If you want to get the right angle, you have to master every pose of the Camera Sutra— and maybe take some risks, too.
3. When strangers ask you to take their picture, and you direct them to capture the best shot
As photographers, we can’t help but direct someone to get their most flattering angle or make them move into the best light. The same applies if we have to move a few steps or take some elements out of the way to get the perfect frame. After all, those are the details that will make those memories more beautiful.
4. You get annoyed when people say your camera takes good photos
Although you know there are no bad intentions, when someone says this phrase to you, something breaks inside you.
Most likely, your family and friends can’t imagine the hours of study and practice you have put in to become a photographer. Only you know that what defines the quality of your images is your ability to compose and illuminate, not the camera you use.
5. You start analyzing composition and lighting in every picture
Once you learn the basic lighting setups and composition rules, you start deconstructing every picture you see and wondering how they captured it. You even end up evaluating the composition in the photos of your friends on Instagram. It is madness.
Nevertheless, that is a great exercise to train your eye and grab ideas to try new stuff based on other pictures. So that is a plus!
6. You feel the urge to photograph a scene because the light is just great
This one is pretty simple: we all get excited when we see good light. It is a feeling of happiness that only photo enthusiasts can comprehend.
7. You begin to build a photo studio in your house without realizing it
Few things feel as satisfying as buying new equipment, and boy, do we photographers pay a lot for that!
As you buy cameras, lenses, and accessories, you will need more space to store and organize that gear. The next thing you know is that you have transformed a room into a small studio without noticing. It just happened.
8. You comment about the lighting instead of the plot when watching a movie
Whenever you watch a movie, you get more hooked on cinematography than everything else— and it may be distracting sometimes. There are scenes so well lit that you have to stop to think about how they did it and how many lights they used. The same happens with music videos or fashion films.
Once again, this is a good exercise to train your eye and creative thinking. Besides, you can imagine how you would have done it differently to achieve another look for the same scene. It is an opportunity to improve your photography.
9. You are always spotting good subjects and places to photograph
When you are a photographer, everything around you is a source of inspiration. Every time you leave your house and face the world, you begin to frame almost everything you see and notice intriguing subjects to photograph. A simple hike or road trip can determine the perfect location for a photoshoot or spark some ideas for a personal project.
Try to use that to be more creative and keep yourself constantly working on your photography.
10. You can see beauty in ordinary things
Photography changes the way we see life— literally. That feels like having a superpower to find beauty in the most mundane situations and make everything look aesthetic (well, almost). It is also a great advantage for starting new projects, even if you are stuck at home.
What’s more, you learn to shoot more conscientiously. You know that each picture you make takes its time and has value. It is no use pressing the shutter a hundred times if the images you capture don’t have a substance. That gives your projects strength beyond aesthetic beauty.
When Should You Call Yourself a Photographer?
Being a photographer has nothing to do with the quality of your equipment or how much money you earn with your work. Nor does it have to do with whether you know how to develop a film or handle digital data in post-processing. Photography, like any other art form, is about expression. And, once you realize this, you can call yourself a photographer.
Today, anyone can take a snapshot with their phone and post it on the web. But photographers go further. They don’t take pictures. They create images to tell stories and communicate ideas. They experiment, study, and think of photography as a universal language that goes beyond words. And this applies to fine art, commercial, and documentary photography.
Photography is not about the technical stuff; it is about how you use that to express something. It’s the content behind the image that separates us from non-photographers.
I hope this post brought a smile to your face. If you enjoyed it, feel free to share it on Facebook and Twitter! And, if you want to read other related articles on this site (plus many helpful photography tips), take a look at our Blog and join our creative community here on Cultured Kiwi.