Thursday, May 19, 2011

Photographologist or Photographer?

Sometimes I just sit, transfixed, watching my Tweetdeck columns spin like a never-ending slot machine. Tweetdeck is a Twitter app if you didn't know and, yeah, I probly need to get more of a life. My generally unexciting life aside, I usually have search columns showing on my Tweedeck feed. They search for words like "photography" and "photographer." It's amazing how many folks, world-wide, Tweet their 140 characters with those words included in their texts. So freakin' many!

What am I looking for as I stare at the spinning columns of characters keyboarded in by so many people, most of them photographers and from all over the country? (All over the world, for that matter.) Well, anything that might interest me, catch my attention, appease my appetite for photography-related information.

I also look for trends or common subjects: trends and subjects that seem to have grabbed a bunch of peoples' interests, make that photographers' interests, nearly at the same time and enough for them to Tweet about it.

I find it interesting that more photographers seem more like photographologists than, well, than photographers. Why do I think that? Because the majority of those Tweeting their 140 characters with the words "photography" or "photographer" in their texts appear more interested in the study of the tangible things related to photography, i.e., gear, equipment, and technologies, than the intangibles like craft and technique. I'm not saying there are only a few who are interested in those intangibles, many are, but the majority seem more interested in the tangibles.

And yet, so many of those who Tweet mostly about the tangibles also seem genuinely interested in improving their skills and abilities as photographers. This leads me to deduce that many people believe the tangibles, rather than the intangibles, will make them better photographers. That's exactly, of course, what those who manufacture and sell all those tangibles, things like cameras and lenses and lights and more, want people to believe.

I'm not saying many of the tangibles cannot help you become a better photographer or a photographer who snaps better photos. They certainly can. But they're not going to help you achieve your excellence-in-photography goals all on their own, contrary to what more than a few manufacturers of that stuff would have you believe.

I also find it curious that so many who often Tweet touts about all the latest gear often are the same people complaining the loudest that everyone thinks they're a "photographer" these days.

Well... why is it that? Why do so many people who know so little about photography believe they are photographers? (In a professional or accomplished sense of the word.) I'm convinced it's because too many people are constantly touting gear and relaying and replaying the notion, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that gear makes the photographer. And if gear makes the photographer, all someone needs to call themselves a "photographer" is a war chest full of the latest and greatest gear; not skill, not ability, not experience, just gear.

Anyway, just something to babble on about today while I drink my coffee.

The gratuitous eye-candy at the top is one I snapped a few months ago of a model who goes by the name Ash.


Paps said...

Why look at comments by other photographers? Shouldnt we be looking at comment by (potential) clients?

jimmyd said...

Paps: You're probably right. Altho I don't see too many of those folks tweeting, leastwise, tweeting about photography or photographers. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? (wrong search words, that is.)

M.R. said...

Thank you for posting this Jimmy; I seriously got a laugh out of this. Not because it's wrong, but because I agree 1000% and I can even relate to everything you mention too. :D

Without going too in-depth into this, I just recently tried to sell one of my camera bodies. I got zero actual interest in the camera, but instead virtually *EVERYONE* asked me what I bought to replace it instead! :D Ironically these individuals are the same ones who's work never improves because they spend more time measurebating over what the other guy's got for gear than trying to improve their craft. :/

jimmyd said...

@M.R.: That's funny... kinda pathetic but still funny. :-)

MarcWPhoto said...


MarcWPhoto said...

Sorry. Couldn't resist. (I really do have a $37 ring flash - it's the kit from DIY Lighting Kits. It actually works okay, see the review on my blog.)

So far the longest tweetstream I've done about photography involved looking for something I had that I wanted to take a picture *of.* Does that count as gear tweeting?

Photography By Joe said...

Hey Jimmy your post rings a bell for me, for a long time I was one of those that believed if I had better gear my images would magically be better... but in time I found myself looking at some of my older images and realized I didn't have all that much to create a stupendous image and using said gear just made my photography all that much more complicated... I guess the old add-age less is better...

Photography By Joe said...

@MarkWPhoto - I have that same Ring flash... I haven't used it yet... still looking for a subject to shoot... So I am looking for my next victim