Sometimes I think people don’t take me seriously when I tell them I’m a photographer. Hell, I always had a hard time telling people I was a writer too. Add photographer to the mix and it’s a double whammy. For some reason, people tend to think that writers and photographers don’t really work for a living. I mean, how hard is it to write stories and snap photos, right?
Most people imagine photography to be a cushy, work-when-you-want kind of job where you can set your own flexible hours and make tons of money for doing very little actual work. After all, this is the digital age. You should be able to spend some money on a fancy DSLR camera and automatically take better photos, right?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about photography is that it is as easy as just snapping a photo and printing it to hang on the wall. Most people don’t know that after the actual session is over, the photographer’s real work begins. The photos must be uploaded, catalogued and sorted. A professional photographer is only going to use the absolute best images, so all the photos are scrutinized and narrowed down to the very best for post processing and editing.
Before digital cameras and computer editing software like Photoshop, photographers spent their time in the darkroom processing images to achieve their desired results. These days, programs like Photoshop are essentially a computerized darkroom, allowing photographers to make their images reflect their own personal style. It also allows photographers to “fix” things in photos that detract from the shot. Of course, most professional photographers try to take the best possible photos during the actual photo shoot to help cut down on the processing time later, but sometimes you just can’t control all the variables, and you end up having to spend a little extra time cleaning things up in the digital darkroom.
For instance, I recently photographed a friend of mine as she got ready to attend her first high school prom. She and her friends headed outside to take a large group photo on the lawn. It was mid-afternoon, so the sun was bright and the shadows harsh. With such a large group, there weren’t a lot of options of where to stand to get a great shot without a lot of distracting clutter in the background. I settled for this angle, and fired off a few shots while the kids were goofing around. I ended up loving their expressions in this shot, but absolutely hated the big bare trees and the cars in the background. When I decided to get rid of all the “stuff” that was ruining the shot, I knew it was going to be a painstakingly slow process to get it just right, but boy was it worth it!
Just like working in the the old darkroom, digitally processing and editing photos is often long, tedious, and sometimes very frustrating work. Photographers spend hours poring over the images from every session so they can present the best possible product for their clients. We want every single one of our images to reflect our own unique, artistic vision, and we won’t settle for anything less than perfection. So, is photography a great profession? Absolutely. I love it almost as much as I love writing. Is it the ultra cushy, nobrainer job that many people think it is? Why don’t you give a try for yourself and tell me.
Today’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to the the professional writers, photographers and artists out there who make it all look so easy. Keep up the good work!