Turning Amateur - Part One

on June 12, 2016

Every working or professional photographer I have talked to - from the lowly international Magnum superstars to the most famous of the Santa Photos shooters in Boise, Idaho - secretly nurtures one supreme aspiration. They have a dream to become a full-time amateur.

All through their working lives you can see them shooting envious glances out the sides of the viewfinder at the chaps in the photo vests who are fiddling with the brown leather ever-ready cases festooned with lens hood holders. It is sad to say that if it weren't for the pressures of money and responsibility they would chuck their day job and reach for their goal.

I guess it is like a lot of things in life - they are set early onto the treadmill and there are few opportunities to get off. They get trained in photography somehow - university, technical school, or trade - and find a job and start to take pictures for money and then before they know it they are hooked. They want to eat every day and own more than one shirt and sleep in a bed. The sad slow decline into financial comfort and professional success starts and they never really see themselves slipping further and further into affluence. One day they wake up and have it all, and no where to put it, and another carton of it arriving Monday...

Then they long for the wonderful world of the amateur. No deadlines. No live lines. No lines at all.

No need to justify their camera purchases to the accountant or the ATO. No need to own the best and fastest before a competitor owns it. No need to go round and slander the other professionals in hopes of getting a client away from them. No need to sit there in a bare studio looking at a bare appointment book and whistling to keep up the spirits. Heck, when you are an amateur you can go to Dan Murphy's and buy spirits at 10:00 in the morning and no-one cares...

Oh, the siren call of the hot photographic news story...and how sweet it is when the siren goes on by their house and they don't have to get out of bed to follow it.

And the charm of attending a rustic wedding in a paddock in the wheatbelt. Amongst the grasshoppers and dust and hayseeds...and they won't have to change lenses because they're a guest instead of a worker. And they don't have to make small talk with the hayseeds unless they want to.

That wonderful dawn at 3:00 AM in summer. Not a breath of wind. Clouds glorious. The roseate fingers of light making for perfect balance between outside light and a desperate real estate agent. No need to haul three light stands and a Skylite reflector up to a third storey. No need to climb on a ladder to get verticals right. No need to spend the rest of the day spotting out the cat wee from the walls. Architecture photography as it was meant to be enjoyed...by someone else.

Well, now that I have set the glowing picture ( and it isn't all just halation ) read on in one of our next weblog columns for how to achieve this. Remember: Life was meant to be more than just getting the gravy spots off a sensor.

Uncle Dick