Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Evel Knievel made me a photographer/Everything Changes

I remember the day I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I was probably in 2nd grade, maybe 1st, and my father had just come home from taking pictures at a golf tournament his company was sponsoring. He went down into his darkroom and let me come in to watch him develop the film and the prints from the past week. He had already chosen a few images to print and I watched as he got started. As he exposed the paper and then put it into the developing tray, I watched as a picture of Evel Knievel magically appeared! At that moment, I was hooked! I wanted to be a photographer.

I didn't really start taking pictures though until I reached 7th grade. That was when I started shooting for the yearbook. I loved it! I was taking pictures of cheerleaders, football games, other students, and everyone knew who I was and wanted me to take their picture. I continued to do this all through High School and college. I added weddings and local rock bands to the mix and eventually models. All this was shot on film. The Black and White, I processed myself and printed, the color I sent out to a photolab. I was shooting on 35mm cameras and medium format cameras. I would finish a shoot and rush to the lab or the darkroom, so I could see the finished product as soon as possible. If someone had a pimple on their face or there was some distraction in the background, you either had to live with it, trash the image or pay someone else to fix it, usually by painting on the negative or occasionally on the print.

Very few people were "professional" photographers back then. It just wasn't as easy to do. You couldn't tell if your shot was over or under exposed until you got your film back, and by then, if you had screwed it up, it was too late, you lost the shot and possibly cost yourself and your client a lot of money. Luckily that never happened on any of my shoots. My father taught me well and my exposures were always within the proper range. Thank you God!

Now, with digital, you can see immediately if you screwed up and you can fix it before you shoot another frame. This has opened up the door of photography to a much larger crowd. Almost anyone can say they are a "professional" photographer now. Anything you can't fix in the camera, you can probably fix with Photoshop. And because the pool of "professional" photographers has gotten so large and the technical side of photography is no longer as great a mystery, people who never would have thought it possible to be a photographer are giving it a try. Some clients are even trying it themselves. Looking for ways to save money, they try to do the photography in-house, turning a Marketing Director or an Art Director into their new photographer.

Many photographers complain about this, and I'll admit, I have complained once or twice myself, but it's not going to go back to the way it was. And now, more and more people everyday are getting to experience what I have loved since I was a very young child. Digital has been great for the art of photography. More people are able to take better pictures and different pictures and show the world completely different styles. Some are great and inspiring, others, probably should never have been made public, but that's a personal opinion.

If you want to be a "professional" photographer, right now, or in the future, or if you have been one for years, you better step up your game! Stop complaining about things you can't change and make better images, be a better marketer, embrace the changes and work with them instead of fighting them. Look around you and see what works, then do it and do it better.

Now with digital photography and Photoshop, everyone can be a photographer. If you truly want to be a PROFESSIONAL, be better, don't just be EVERYONE!