Monday, February 15, 2010

Guilty pleasures

They are known as MWAC (Mom with a Camera). Or AWAC (Amateurs with a Camera). In our very small town there are 35 businesses listed as "Photography". THIRTYFIVE! This last week I took a 6 hour class in which I learned that our wonderful state of Utah is the second from the bottom in the likelihood to succeed as a professional photographer. Soon it is expected to be at the bottom.

I've always loved taking photographs and sharing them with others. I remember clearly snapping a 35mm frame of Jubee playing with some balloons when she was just a toddler. It came out blurry and I was terribly disappointed. The lab tech kindly explained that my nice point-and-shoot camera would not focus at a close distance. About five years ago I sweet-talked Zeus into getting my first DSLR. I was hooked from the first time I held that massive Nikon in my hands and started shooting everything I could. That camera has since been upgraded and additional equipment has gradually been acquired that allows wider experiences in my chosen hobby.

The questions have been swirling in my head for quite some time. I have long considered myself to be an amateur/hobbyist and have had no desire to take that next step to professional. There are many reasons for this, the biggest being that I don't want my playtime to become a job. There is plenty of self-imposed stress involved at my current level without having to worry about deadlines, legal issues, taxes, advertising, etc. etc. etc. I never want to replace the unlimited enjoyment with a 40 (or more) hour work week.

So why the guilt trip? Several times and in various forums I have heard professional photographers express contempt for amateur photographers. It seems that MWACs and AWACs have deeply cut into the pros' earnings potential. Most are struggling with lagging incomes and fewer clients. Equipment, insurance and other business expenses quickly eat up any profits that might come their way. The Internet has made it possible to share images with distant loved ones, no need for prints. The once-lucrative photography profession has taken a hit in the pocketbook by rapidly changing technology.

With the advancement of digital cameras and the ever-improving computer technology even a first-grader has the ability to produce nice photographs. On the flip side, I have invested countless hours in classrooms, books, research and practice to get to where I am currently. As I blogged recently, there is so much more to learn.

Finally, I have come to terms. I am comfortable with my position. I am a GWAC. And I do not feel guilty.


(The camera once belonged to my father in the late 40's. It took wonderful candid photos of my parents and probably would still work if I could find film for it.)


Casi the Great said...

And you are amazing.

Eris said...

You have a gift for it and should use it.

Muriel said...

Idaho must be at the bottom then. I swear everyone thinks they can be a professional. I'll have to bring proof of the lady that really wasn't as good as she thought.

JW said...

Guilty pleasures are one of lifes greatest gifs. Enjoy it especially since you are wonderful at it!

The Numismatist said...

Muriel, I would love to see them! Zeus and I had the opportunity to be photographed by one the top pros in our state a few years ago. It was obvious by the quality (I looked fabulous!). His prices reflected his status.

I have also seen some pretty attrocious claims of "pros". Some that make my monitor cringe.

Thank you all for your comments and for being good sports when I point the camera at you.

The camera is packed and I'm wearing my GWAC badge. Going to go take photos of my favorite little bowlers.