When you think of a hobbyist photographer who do you think of ? If I asked you to name a famous photographer who would it be ?
I expect you thought of a middle aged man with a fancy digital camera. And the famous photographer, did any of these names come to mind, Vivian Maier, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz?
I was discussing with my fiancée the other day about the public image of most photographers. I was talking about the great female photographers both past and present such as those named above and I wondered why the public image of photographers were predominately middle aged men.
Wendy reminded me of a day we spent at a D-Day revival festival in Southwick and asked me to think of all the 'togs I'd seen there. The majority of photographers there were middle aged men (side note- I'm more than aware that I'm a middle aged male but please bear with me!). I asked Wendy why she thought that was and she asked me something else "Think about what cameras they all had" (she's very clever my other half and often gently leads me to answers). Sure enough there was the usual line-up of Canon, Nikkon, Sony and Pentax DSLR's. We came to the conclusion that middle age is when you can afford luxuries such as expensive hobbies with a pricey startup cost and that often it is men that have the spare income and time to indulge in such hobbies. The women we saw at this event that were taking photos were doing so on their phones, equipment that they already have in possession.
I've held the view for a long time that photography has nothing to do with the camera your using. The camera catches the light and stores the image digitally or on a piece of film but the person holding the camera takes the photo.
Everyone we saw that day was a photographer – no matter what they were taking photos with or what they were taking photos of.
Today photography is one the most accessible hobbies – 90% of phones have a camera and most phones come with photo editing facilities. With the growth of such sites as Facebook, Instagram, snapchat there are millions of ways to share your photographs quickly and easily. There's resources such as YouTube and various websites that teach you how to take a better photo for free.
If you wanted to move away from your phone, there are various levels of digital cameras available from basic "point and shoots" at around £20 to entry-level DSLR cameras which start around £250. I'll be writing another blog post about the different sorts of cameras soon.
Anyone can take a photo, a technically good photo can be taken on any kind of camera but at the end of the day the best photo is the one you're happy with. Don't let the lack of equipment stop you. Go out, take photos, have fun.