On (Not) Being a Photographer

Once I rediscovered my desire to write in my late forties, it took me years to begin calling myself a Writer.   That had to do in part with the fact that I really meant not just a Writer, but a Professional Writer or a Published Writer.   Of course, I had been both of those in the technical world for years, but that didn’t count.   I went to an artist’s support group, worked The Artist’s Way and got a certificate in creative writing from Cal State Fullerton.  I had a short story published and was paid for it.  And I made a business card that said, Francis A. Reed – Writer.  Twenty years later, I can say it … I am a writer … without it sticking in my throat.  Yes, I know.  The title says this is On (Not) Being a Photographer.  There’s a point I want to make.  The number of people who really write is quite small so saying you are a writer doesn’t seem like it should feel so dangerous.  How much competition is there?  Who’s going to challenge you?  Well, there is that guy who says, Have you published anything? … or, Do you do it for a living?  Let’s forget him.   The same thing can be said for painting or drawing … how many people actually do it?

But everyone takes photographs, and with some decent equipment and a few excursions to beautiful places, everyone can take some fairly impressive pictures.  You might even wonder whether taking good photographs is more about equipment and locale than artistry.  But then you look at the work of Ansel Adams and Jay Maisel and Thomas Mangelsen and you know you’re wrong.   Still, with everyone creating beautiful photographs, even with their phones, there’s a lot of competition out there.  It seems to me it takes more guts to say, I’m a photographer, which is part of the reason I’ve never said it.  The other reason is that I am the quintessential snapshot taker, interested most in capturing memories.   But I’ve got an eye for beauty and with what we have at our disposal … 8 megapixel phone cameras and miniature smart cameras like my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 … even a Writer Who Paints occasionally takes a good photo.   I’m not going to sign up for anybody’s Weekly Photo Challenge or do Thirty Days of Photos, but I do occasionally need material for my Wednesday posts, which in the past have been on writing and art.  So I’m occasionally going to post one of my photos.  Like today.

This one was taken in our backyard in San Tan Valley, Arizona.   I was sitting in our family room when I noticed a Monarch butterfly fluttering around the Pala Brea tree in our backyard.  I grabbed my camera and she cooperatively settled on the end of a branch.  I think it’s about as nice a photo as I’ve ever taken … but don’t tell that to my grandkids.

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6 Comments on “On (Not) Being a Photographer”


  1. I still don’t call myself a writer.

    And I am definitely NOT a photographer. I take a lot of pictures, but only for fun.

    And that is a FABULOUS picture, Bud!

  2. Vicki Says:

    that is a great photo.. photography is in the eye.. a great camera helps but if you don’t have an eye, doesn’t matter how much your camera costs.. and I think that you should do the Weekly Photo Challenge which is open to all.

  3. cherperz Says:

    That is a great photo. I am neither a writer nor a photographer but I can appreciate others that write well or take wonderful pictures. I agree that it is getting easier to have pictures that turn out good with just the right amount of contrast, color, etc. but to find the interesting shot that is one of a kind, that is the skill.

    Same with writing…I think there are a lot of people that can write, as in using the right sentence structure, proper spelling and grammar etc. but being able illicit and keep the interest of the reader…that is the hard part. (you BTW do that REALLY well)


  4. I am a writer by profession, as you know, and so when I explain to people what I do, I don’t have to get stuck on it. But I still kind of do… because it’s a different phase of my career. While my career has always included writing, I do more of it now – albeit not the way I write for my blog. So when I say I’m a writer, it applies to my career… not to my creativity or expression. Does that make sense?

    As for photography, it’s funny you mention this. One of my plans for the house I’m buying is to use several photos I’ve taken (edited into black and white and shadowed, retouched or otherwise gussied up where appropriate) as the focal point of the spare bedroom. I’m so excited about it. It’s probably one of the things I most look forward to about actually getting the house.

    • oldereyes Says:

      Yes, it does make sense although I find it interesting that I was a writer as part of my career but completely dismissed it. I think because many literate people so discount engineers that I bought into the notion that technical writing wasn’t writing. Then too, being a “technical writer” was considered a step or two down from an engineer.

      I hope you’ll post some pictures of your pictures once you’re in the house. Or can you do that without giving away your identity. 🙂

  5. territerri Says:

    This is a beautiful shot! I’m impressed that the butterfly cooperated and sat still for you. That doesn’t happen often (at least for me!)

    I don’t call myself a writer. There’s something about saying it out loud that worries me. There are too many people who don’t know that I write and I guess I still worry too much about what people think of me and the thoughts that come out of my head.

    I don’t call myself a photographer either. I have the luxury of a decent camera. I have a friend who is a professional photographer and there is way more to it than I’m willing to put into it.


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