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What makes a photographer serious about photography?
Old 07-20-2016   #1
tunalegs
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What makes a photographer serious about photography?

Some people have rather interesting ideas about what makes a photographer "serious", and I think it might make an interesting conversation. I'm wondering if there will be a general consensus or if people will get hung up on petty details about what constitutes serious photography.

Rather than ask some leading questions, I think I'll leave this open ended. What makes a photograph, or a photographer, serious to you?
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Old 07-20-2016   #2
Larry Cloetta
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Boy, this is an invitation to a food fight if there ever was one, LOL.

I anxiously await the mayhem from the self serious.
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Old 07-20-2016   #3
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One who gets noticed and published.
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Old 07-20-2016   #4
Bill Clark
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Because humans are social creatures and have the desire to express themselves, some with photography.
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Old 07-20-2016   #5
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if you're serious about photography, you think it's important to do what you're doing for some reason or another. not sure what else you're driving at.
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What makes a photographer serious about photography?
Old 07-20-2016   #6
giganova
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What makes a photographer serious about photography?

That's easy:
  1. You have a Leica. The more collectable, the more serious you are as a photographer.
  2. You take photos of your Leica all the time, preferably with a vintage watch, a fountain pen, and a cup of espresso.
  3. You rub into everyone's face that the Leica has the softest shutter release ("music to my ears!") and that your Noctilux gives the best bokeh.
  4. You sigh and walk away if someone asks what bokeh is.
  5. You tell everyone that you see in black & white.
  6. You lie to everyone that you have a wet dark room and only enlarge on fiber paper.
  7. You consider buying a salt mine to store your photos for eternity.
  8. You cry when you see someone take an iPhone selfie.
  9. You wear a "Shoot film not bullets" button.
  10. You sport a tan photographer's vest and have dark rimmed glasses.
  11. You tell party guests anecdotes about your best friend Henri Cartier-Bresson and how you inspired him "to get our more and shoot".
  12. You tell people that you only flip burgers as research for your next photo project.
  13. When asked "What's your best photo?" you tell a story how your photo has saved the life of a poor Afghan girl.
  14. You constantly complain about your (imaginary) editor.
  15. You scream at people "Act naturally!"
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Old 07-20-2016   #7
zian
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Seriously?
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Old 07-20-2016   #8
brennanphotoguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
That's easy:
  1. You have a Leica. The more collectable, the more serious you are as a photographer.
  2. You take photos of your Leica all the time, preferably with a vintage watch, a fountain pen, and a cup of espresso.
  3. You rub into everyone's face that the Leica has the softest shutter release ("music to my ears!") and that your Noctilux gives the best bokeh.
  4. You sigh and walk away if someone asks what bokeh is.
  5. You tell everyone that you see in black & white.
  6. You lie to everyone that you have a wet dark room and only enlarge on fiber paper.
  7. You consider buying a salt mine to store your photos for eternity.
  8. You cry when you see someone take an iPhone selfie.
  9. You wear a "Shoot film not bullets" button.
  10. You sport a tan photographer's vest and have dark rimmed glasses.
  11. You tell party guests anecdotes about your best friend Henri Cartier-Bresson and how you inspired him "to get our more and shoot".
  12. You tell people that you only flip burgers as research for your next photo project.
  13. When asked "What's your best photo?" you tell a story how your photo has saved the life of a poor Afghan girl.
  14. You constantly complain about your (imaginary) editor.
  15. You scream at people "Act naturally!"
16. You like to refer to the (few) marks on your camera as battle scars and insist they all have a story.
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Old 07-20-2016   #9
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nice list but no.

I'd argue that serious photographers are photographing all the time, even when their camera is at home. Can't be helped really. Bitten by the bug in the truest sense of the word.

This ongoing internal deliberation on contrast, perspective, composition, focus, OOF, decisive moments and what have you, that never can be stopped even if you want to, in my opinion is a prerequisite for any photographer to be considered 'serious'.

By that time you eat, sleep and breathe photography. Wear it like a suit.
I know of a few folks like that only. Myself, I dabble in photography, like most of us here. That's fine though.
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Old 07-20-2016   #10
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You are serious when you go into debt to buy a Leica
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Old 07-20-2016   #11
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You are serious when Leica has alienated you
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Old 07-20-2016   #12
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It depends, film or digital.?
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Old 07-20-2016   #13
giganova
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If you're serious about photography, you won't be reading this because you'd either be out shooting or editing your photos.
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Old 07-20-2016   #14
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Not a clue. If you viewed my photos you would know that for sure.
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Old 07-20-2016   #15
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I don't think I know how to be serious?
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Old 07-20-2016   #16
Godfrey
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You are a serious photographer when you study and practice the technology, craft, and aesthetics of making photographs with the full intensity of will, depth of focus, and passionate emotion that you are capable of applying to any endeavor.

You are an accomplished serious photographer when your finished photographs meet the standards that such study and practice implies, and meet whatever goals you have in making them on a consistent basis.

G
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Old 07-20-2016   #17
Richard G
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Your light meter app is on the fist page of your home screen.
You forget that your phone also has a camera.
Your wife is overheard to say "Couldn't you come out just once without a camera?"
You have an external finder.
You have a lens hood on all your lenses.
You have no case for the camera.
Your camera strap is not the same brand as the camera.
You have a hand held light meter.
You have more than one hand held light meter.
You finally bought a Baranck with a collapsible 50 to put in your coat pocket when leaving the house with your wife.
You have nearly been run over taking a photograph.
You take photos in the rain.
Your friends don't expect to see an easy electronic version of one of your photos.
You know more of the neighbours than your wife, even though neither of you walks a dog.
Your wife discovers that you have all these pals who don't seem to know what your day job is.
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Old 07-20-2016   #18
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Who cares what anyone else thinks.

For those who arent making a living from it, if you enjoy it that should be enough, just like any other hobby or activity.
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Old 07-20-2016   #19
emraphoto
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When you realize that the hustle involved with making money from photography is getting in the way of your photography
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Old 07-20-2016   #20
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Giganova, wonderful list.
But to modify KoFe's idea, and to extend Grumpypants Roger Hicks's notion, serious photographers WANT to get noticed and published/exhibited.
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Last edited by pyeh : 07-20-2016 at 16:08. Reason: spelling mainly
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Old 07-20-2016   #21
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No checklists required!

Everyone on RFF is serious about photography in their own way.

Chris
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Old 07-20-2016   #22
Larry Cloetta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
Your light meter app is on the fist page of your home screen.
You forget that your phone also has a camera.
Your wife is overheard to say "Couldn't you come out just once without a camera?"
You have an external finder.
You have a lens hood on all your lenses.
You have no case for the camera.
Your camera strap is not the same brand as the camera.
You have a hand held light meter.
You have more than one hand held light meter.
You finally bought a Baranck with a collapsible 50 to put in your coat pocket when leaving the house with your wife.
You have nearly been run over taking a photograph.
You take photos in the rain.
Your friends don't expect to see an easy electronic version of one of your photos.
You know more of the neighbours than your wife, even though neither of you walks a dog.
Your wife discovers that you have all these pals who don't seem to know what your day job is.
That's funny. Thanks!
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Old 07-20-2016   #23
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
Some people have rather interesting ideas about what makes a photographer "serious", and I think it might make an interesting conversation. I'm wondering if there will be a general consensus or if people will get hung up on petty details about what constitutes serious photography.

Rather than ask some leading questions, I think I'll leave this open ended. What makes a photograph, or a photographer, serious to you?

You've posted this in response to Roger Hicks's comment about the seriousness of a photographer being related to how much he spends on gear.

The thing is most professionals don't have top of the line gear. We can't afford it.

If I were judged by the equipment I use, which is all mid-priced stuff, I would not be judged to be a 'serious' photographer. That despite being published and exhibited over a 20 year period and earning my living selling prints, licensing photos, and teaching photo lessons.

My whole life is photography. My house is filled with stacks of framed photos, I have hundreds of photo books lining my walls, I carry a camera EVERYWHERE at all times, and I spend most of my free income on film and travel costs to work on my long-term documentary projects. I think I'm pretty serious, even without a single camera made by Leica.
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Old 07-20-2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
That's easy:
  1. You have a Leica. The more collectable, the more serious you are as a photographer.
  2. You take photos of your Leica all the time, preferably with a vintage watch, a fountain pen, and a cup of espresso.
  3. You rub into everyone's face that the Leica has the softest shutter release ("music to my ears!") and that your Noctilux gives the best bokeh.
  4. You sigh and walk away if someone asks what bokeh is.
  5. You tell everyone that you see in black & white.
  6. You lie to everyone that you have a wet dark room and only enlarge on fiber paper.
  7. You consider buying a salt mine to store your photos for eternity.
  8. You cry when you see someone take an iPhone selfie.
  9. You wear a "Shoot film not bullets" button.
  10. You sport a tan photographer's vest and have dark rimmed glasses.
  11. You tell party guests anecdotes about your best friend Henri Cartier-Bresson and how you inspired him "to get our more and shoot".
  12. You tell people that you only flip burgers as research for your next photo project.
  13. When asked "What's your best photo?" you tell a story how your photo has saved the life of a poor Afghan girl.
  14. You constantly complain about your (imaginary) editor.
  15. You scream at people "Act naturally!"
.....You wear socks with them sandals that use velcro to hold on........my apologies to my German/Austrian friends
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Old 07-20-2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
You've posted this in response to Roger Hicks's comment about the seriousness of a photographer being related to how much he spends on gear.

The thing is most professionals don't have top of the line gear. We can't afford it.

If I were judged by the equipment I use, which is all mid-priced stuff, I would not be judged to be a 'serious' photographer. That despite being published and exhibited over a 20 year period and earning my living selling prints, licensing photos, and teaching photo lessons.

My whole life is photography. My house is filled with stacks of framed photos, I have hundreds of photo books lining my walls, I carry a camera EVERYWHERE at all times, and I spend most of my free income on film and travel costs to work on my long-term documentary projects. I think I'm pretty serious, even without a single camera made by Leica.
+100
I admire your photos too!
Thanks!
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Old 07-20-2016   #26
Erik van Straten
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A serious photographer takes his camera to bed.

Erik.
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Old 07-20-2016   #27
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Guess I might want to know what you mean by "serious." Have not thought much about this before, but on consideration I think a serious photographer is one who looks critically at his final product and discards it if it does not measure up, even if all the relatives are in the frame and no heads or feet are cut off. I do not think it is someone who wants to wear a cap that says "serious photographer" hoping those looking on will believe it. That said I don't think a serious photographer is necessarily a good, or talented, or gifted photographer, but nevertheless should be appreciated for the careful attention he gives to his craft.
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Old 07-20-2016   #28
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I'll pose a tangential question, can one be serious about photography, if they don't take photographs? For example those who specialize in darkroom work - creating prints for other photographers? Surely they can be just as serious about the craft of photography as anybody else, or so I would think.

I'll add my personal opinion that I often see amateurs (in various crafts, not just photography) who are not only far more talented and skilled than professionals, but also take their art more seriously than professionals. I might even argue that an amateur is more likely to be serious because unlike a professional they have fewer constraints in their work, as well as the freedom to have unregulated pride in the work they choose to produce.
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Old 07-20-2016   #29
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I've noticed that all serious photographers have very tolerant wives/partners/family.

Serious photographers are always seeing things. Without the use of substances. Apart from coffee.

When you ask a serious photographer "what's it like out today" their answer will be about the light.

Serious photographers learn to edit.

Serious photographers value a camera as a tool even if it's the prettiest thing Leica ever invented.
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Old 07-20-2016   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
I'll pose a tangential question, can one be serious about photography, if they don't take photographs? For example those who specialize in darkroom work - creating prints for other photographers? Surely they can be just as serious about the craft of photography as anybody else, or so I would think.

I'll add my personal opinion that I often see amateurs (in various crafts, not just photography) who are not only far more talented and skilled than professionals, but also take their art more seriously than professionals. I might even argue that an amateur is more likely to be serious because unlike a professional they have fewer constraints in their work, as well as the freedom to have unregulated pride in the work they choose to produce.
Gallery curators are very serious about photography, even if they're not photographers themselves. I have a friend who collects photobooks and he's very serious about photography. I agree with you about printers who work to make the most of pictures in printed form.

Professionals who aren't serious risk losing their livelihood, but there are many amateurs who have a professional, serious attitude towards their photography. A professional has to be serious about the business of photography more than anything else. There's a difference between the business of photography, and photography.
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Old 07-20-2016   #31
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I don't know if I'm serious about photography, but my late father was as serious as they come.


He worked as a photographer for a company for 30 years and was a photography teacher on the afternoon. On his spare, time he sold cameras to his students and friends.

On weekdays nights, he was either at the coffee shop talking about photography with his buddies or at home reading the latest Popular photography or Shutterbug issue.

He liked his equipment but he wasn't obsessed about them. For him, they were tools (event though he had about 8 M Leica's he never bragged about them with his pals). For him, the photo was more important than the equipment itself. He wasn't in love with any of his cameras, and you will see him using a Leica as much as a Nikon (digital or film), 35mm as much as MF, polaroid as LF.


For 60 years, He read, thought, saw and touched photography most of his waking hours.

I suppose that for me, that's what it means to be serious about photography.
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Old 07-20-2016   #32
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RichardG, I resemble your remarks, 100%. I must be TOTALLY serious.
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Old 07-20-2016   #33
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Someone who just keeps taking photographs no matter what anyone else says.
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Old 07-20-2016   #34
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Quote:
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I've noticed that all serious photographers have very tolerant wives/partners/family
No, it's the opposite: they are so sick of their horrible partner that they spend as much time taking random pictures in the streets as possible.
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Old 07-20-2016   #35
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Well, it's not their ideas, that's for sure. It's their work. Ideas are a dime a dozen, great images are rare. Michelangelo said “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.”The work does the talking, and the BS walks.
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Old 07-20-2016   #36
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Some people seem to think that the more brick walls you photograph and the more you talk about MTF performance, aberrations and corner resolution then the more serious you are. Said (and sad) pixel peepers are almost invariably the most serious (and least talented) photographers.

In my book a "serious" photographer is someone who (a) carries a camera and (b) uses it at every opportunity. Of course this does not necessarily mean they are highly talented but that's another story.

A serious artistic photographer is one who is creative. As in any other field of art.
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Old 07-20-2016   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
You've posted this in response to Roger Hicks's comment about the seriousness of a photographer being related to how much he spends on gear.

The thing is most professionals don't have top of the line gear. We can't afford it.

If I were judged by the equipment I use, which is all mid-priced stuff, I would not be judged to be a 'serious' photographer. That despite being published and exhibited over a 20 year period and earning my living selling prints, licensing photos, and teaching photo lessons.

My whole life is photography. My house is filled with stacks of framed photos, I have hundreds of photo books lining my walls, I carry a camera EVERYWHERE at all times, and I spend most of my free income on film and travel costs to work on my long-term documentary projects. I think I'm pretty serious, even without a single camera made by Leica.
Dear Chris,

It's nothing to do with Leicas. It's nothing to do with being a professional or amateur, either. Your last paragraph sums it up. Serious is as serious does.

Like your house, mine is "filled with stacks of framed photos, I have hundreds of photo books lining my walls". I have a weekly column in the oldest photo magazine in the world in which I can choose any picture I like and discuss it: something which would have been quite hard to achieve from a position of complete ignorance. Every year I go to Arles: twice I have exhibited there.

Filter out the comments about Leicas in this thread and look at those who talk about photography, not cameras. That will give you a number of useful takes on "serious".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-20-2016   #38
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Hmmm, well I don't know about serious but a lot of us are happy photographers but as no one has mentioned fun I'll say no more...

Regards, David
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Old 07-21-2016   #39
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I don't believe a photographer has to seek the satisfaction of others to be serious about photography.
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Old 07-21-2016   #40
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The only serious thing about photography, is if YOU treat it seriously.
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