Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Flavors of Photographers

I've talked about types of photographers, but when a recent observation, watching the steam from the shower escape to the bathroom vent, I was struck with the different flavors of photographers. I stood there watching the steam against the light from flood lamp, the water swirling from the heat of the light and the circulation from the vent. Sometimes it's the small things in life that attracts your attention deeper than the rest of it.

So what does this have to do with photography, photographers and this image? Well, it got me into thinking about the different flavors of photographers. I'm one of those photographers who walks through life looking, and when I see something interesting, I get out the camera and try to capture what I see. That's the bulk of my photography, and the rest is my interest in the simple and minimalism.

It got me to thinking what other flavors are there? It depends on the criteria you use, but I think there are some general flavors based on their motivation, interests, personality, and experience. Some are as described below, but one major criterion is if photography is an innate motivation or an innate interest, meaning if they are driven to carry and use a camera to capture what they see, or if they look and see and then use a camera to capture it.

This sounds the same, but I think it divides when you look at the photographer's background, namely their education and experience, and how they use the camera. And this is what helps discern the flavors I see in the photos and images from the many photographes. There is a lot of overlap as some photographers move between flavors. We're like ice cream at Baskin Robbins, what flavor are we today. And they are?

There are those like me who just express photography as a part of their life, scenes I see going through life. These can run the gamut to the occasional photographer to who, like me, simply pursue photography to enjoy the craft in life. Photography doesn't drive our life but it's an element in our expression of it.

There are those who use photography to capture an image. They run the gamut from street and documentary photographers to the very creative. There are two types of these photographers. Those who use the technology to produce the images they want, usually have a literate understanding of the technology. They discuss the events, places, and times, and gloss over the technical side or issues, namely because it's an end to a goal.

And there are those who focus on the technical side and issues in photography. The ones who can tell you all about the scene, including the day, time, circumstances, etc., the camera and equipment, and the process to produce the image. Sometimes they're perceived a gearheads or techno folks, but it's not bad because they often solve a lot of the technical issues the rest of us have problems.

There are those who create images. These usually originated from other artistic venues and find photography an interesting addition or expression of their are, but some originate in photography to create some of the innovative images we see. The overlap between this flavor and the previous one is that many photographers, such as portrait, studio, product, and other applications, require knowledge and experience in the technology and art. Why?

This is because the photographer has to "see" the final image and they find the technology and application to get there and produce it. This is often seen in advertising and product photography. The images that stop you and go "Wow, that's cool!", and then "I wonder how they did that?" When you look at ads in magazines, think about them, that's the culmulation of a photographer's talent, experience and knowledge to get your attention.

There are those who use photography to report. These are the photojournalist in the world, those who often risk their life to tell a story. Their images move us, in our hearts and minds, often to act and change the world. They are driven to go to places to capture events or life, and share their experiences in their photography. We can't say enough about these photographers, they deserve our highest recognition and support for their work.

There are those who use photography to share. These photographer are engaged in photography to share their images in travel, nature, landscape, adventure, wildlife, architecture, and other types of photography, often seen in a host in magazines, photo essay books, and Websites. The images range from the ordinary to highly visual. Their images move us to want to be there, experience the same, or just feel the life.

There are the "fine art" photographers. These are the images we see at galleries, in shows and in some of the fine art or photography magazines in portfolios showing images over years, and sometimes decades, of work to capture and produce the images, and reflect a dedication by the photographer to a theme expressed in their work, something we should cherish when viewing the images.

So, that's the thought on flavors. I'm sure there's more and I'll think of them walking down the street or seeing another photographer or their work. Who knows, which is the beauty of photography. It's always new if you look.

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