There are dozens of reasons not to be a photographer. It’s an expensive hobby. It’s time consuming. It’s a solitary activity that takes time away from my wife. There’s always going to be lots of people who are better at it than I am. There’s always going lots people who are more popular even though they aren’t as good as I am. The more time I spend getting my work seen, the less time I have to make images – and viceversa.
When people ask me if I do this professionally, they’re surprised when I answer “Hell No.” It seems like everyone with a DSLR and a facebook page fancies themselves a pro photographer. Why shouldn’t I adopt the moniker for myself? There are several reasons, all of them entirely selfish. Firstly, I don’t want the stress and responsibility of delivering product to paying clients. I already have millions of people’s data at my fingertips at work; my hobby doesn’t need to have that same type of “ZOMG I HOPE I DON’T FUCK THIS UP” wrapped up in it. Photography is my art therapy, and I wouldn’t be comfortable taking risks and pushing the boundaries of what I know I can accomplish if I were beholden to anyone else. Secondly, going pro involves a whole level of paperwork and accounting that I just don’t want to take the time to do – I want to spend my time creating engaging images of distinction. There just isn’t enough money in photography for me to be willing to quit my lucrative job in IT. There is a tiny percentage of photographers bringing in the kind of money I enjoy now, and each of them has spent years singlemindedly dedicated to developing their business to get there. I’m too old and too comfortable where I am to put that kind of energy into something new.
So why am I so OCD about my photography? Despite my ultrageeky leanings, or perhaps because of them, I have a head full of ideas and concepts and feelings that I want to express. I’ve done writing, to some minor acclaim, but ultimately I’m a visual person. Writing is for code. The human experience, as I understand it, is a rich tapestry best explored through the widest bandwidth channel available – our eyeballs. The visual medium is a wide open expanse that allows me to share concepts and emotions in just a few seconds. Images are easy to share, and it’s easier to get people to look at a picture than it is to get them to read a story.
And, of course, I do it for the lurv. I’m ecstatic when I see someone get excited about a photograph I’ve done. Probably the best compliment ever: “OMG, I didn’t know I was so beautiful!”. Thanks darling, you just made Q1 2012 for me! Seeing my images used as social network profile pics is a thrill every time I see it. I’m not always very good about telling people how I feel, I hope that by taking awesome photographs they can see how much I appreciate them and admire them. Being an antisocial introvert means I don’t have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, but I know people who do and watching them collect praise for work we’ve done together fills me with pride and joy.