Friday, March 18, 2016

5 Photographer Types

Another bit light topic for today - but make no mistake, it's 100% founded on my observations and experience. We are all unique, and of course I don't claim we can all fit neatly into merely 5 categories. Having said that, keep reading and you just might recognize yourself in one of those ;)

Also do keep in mind that more often than not, we might jump from one category to the next depending on the context. But if more than 50% of your photos fall into one of the categories below, then you should start considering if this is, indeed, what you think of yourself (and also whether the tools you use are appropriate).

What kind of a photographer you are is defined not by how "good" your photos are (which is not quantifiable anyway) but by what you try to achieve and how progressively better you are at succeeding in that

So, without further delay, here are *drumroll* (or rather, 10 fps *shutter firing*) the 5 Photographer Types

5) The Egomaniac 

You know this one very well. S/he's the one that stands in front of the Parthenon, the Eiffel Tower, or the Colosseum, and takes a photo of - yep, you guessed it - him/herself. It's all about me, me, me. The monument or landscape serves no other purpose but to show how great, rich, or cool s/he is. Their photography skills are very poor, with barely any knowledge regarding technique, composition, or even basic exposure properties.

Favorite Phrase: "I'm so photogenic, look at me"
Favorite Tools: An expensive camera phone and a selfie stick

4) The Soccer Mom/Dad

A great number of people are in that category. The term is sometimes used derogatorily, but it shouldn't; there's no shame in trying to master a camera and some basic skills to capture nice photos of your kids (although, sometimes a soccer mom/dad might slip into the "Egomaniac" category by proxy, if s/he becomes too preoccupied with how much better his/her kids look compared to those of Johnny-from-the-block). People in this photographer type (whether actually parents or not) usually can't or won't dedicate enough time to properly learn about photography, but they like to experiment with all kinds of things. It's a reinvent-the-wheel kind of thing, which results in lengthy but rather fruitless sessions. They can have expensive tools, but they don't feel too comfortable considering any major changes.

Favorite Phrase: "Can I take sports photos with my Nikon D5500 and the Nikkor 18-300?"
Favorite Tools: A middle-level camera and a super zoom.

3) The Advanced Amateur

Probably the second largest group. Photographers in this category are usually at the optimal curve between knowing enough to make great images but not feeling too bored or distracted to stop learning. Many great images you see on the Internet come from people in this category. Those slipping lower might become too preoccupied with equipment or with arcane and rather pointless information ("Are CCD sensors better for skin tones?") while those slipping higher become too lazy and bored and take photos that are repetitive and lackluster.

Favorite Phrase: "What's the buffer depth for 14-bit RAW?"
Favorite Tools: Too many to list. At least a high-end DX body (unless they're FX users; then they have a Nikon D750 or Nikon D810) and several lenses, speedlights, and all kinds of filters, tripods, and accessories.

2) The Professional

Although s/he is the "pro", it doesn't mean their photos are any better than those an advanced amateur makes. That is especially the case if they're a wedding/event photographer (I suppose a wildlife photographer must remain original in order to stay competitive). The problem with professionals is that they don't need to make the best photo, but the photo that will sell (see step 3 here). Often the professional doesn't take the photos s/he likes, but the photos s/he has to. That can be a problem, especially if you're both a professional photographer, taking photos for other people, and someone who takes photos for their own enjoyment. It can really sap your creativity, it's a plague (trust me, I know what I'm talking about).

Favorite Phrase: "They want the pics ready by when?!"
Favorite Tools: Again, too many to list. Serious professionals have more than one body. I know a couple who use DX, but the overwhelming majority has gone the full-frame path.

1) The Lunatic

Last but not least, we have the Lunatic. More often than not, they're simply hipsters who think they're doing something great and artsy just because they use a Holga. In most cases the results are mediocre at best. In case you're wondering, the Lunatic is different than the Egomaniac because s/he focuses on subjects other than her/his own self - unless if it's an artsy shot of a toenail, a blurred image of a wrist, or things like that. In some exceedingly rare cases, utter Lunatics might be in fact hidden geniuses. In those cases, you just know it when you see the image - and you don't care the least bit whether it was taken with a high-end DSLR, a cell phone, or a 60s film camera.

Favorite Phrase: "I can't meet tonight, I have some film to cook".
Favorite Tools: It can vary a lot. Most prefer anything older than themselves, preferably worn. There are some who might use Leicas.

And that concludes the list. As I said, this isn't meant to be comprehensive - and it's definitely tongue-in-cheek - but this doesn't mean it's not something based on reality. These are people you know and you talk to. Egomaniacs and Lunatics, Soccer Dads and Pros, are your neighbors, your friends, your colleagues.
They are us! ;)

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