What makes a good photographer?


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 21:50
Over Easter, I had some photographs taken professionally of myself and my university lecturer in connection with some work, which are going to be used for publicity. While we were on location, I took photographs using my K10 and I felt some of them were good photographs. My lecturer however, dismissed them as a student cannot possibly take a photograph as good as a professional, and my camera was far inferior to his Nikon D200.
I have had photographs published for the last 38 years and feel I know a little about the subject although I am still an enthusiastic amateur.

What does everyone think to this subject, can an amateur take good photographs or do you need to be a professional to take good ones????
What qualities make a good photographer???

I feel very strongly about this but had to leave the subject unresolved because the argument got very heated.
I am currently studying Textile Design at the University of Derby, graduating in 2009 (hopefully!)


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 21:57
What makes a good photographer?

I'd like to think Mom and Dad......

Seriously why waste energy arguing with a snob?
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:02
He isn't normally like that at all, and without him the work I did just would not have been completed and it was a very important piece for me, with the potential to launch my design career. (and he had a final say on grades!!)

But am I wrong in thinking that you don't need to be a professional to take good pictures?

I am being a bit of a devils advocate really to see if it gets under anyone elses skin like it did mine.
I am currently studying Textile Design at the University of Derby, graduating in 2009 (hopefully!)


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:02

My cousin shoots with a Canon 1D MKIII and L Lenses and has been a photojournalist for 10 years, we went on a shoot together, compared afterwards, and he said quality wise mine were just as good as his.

Personally, I think you had one of those 'I'm better than you' type snobs that could do with a slap round the face with a wet kipper. Would love to see you print off one of your best photos and shove it in his face, I'm sure the look you get would be worth a photo or two!



Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:05
Before this day, he had previously been complimentary about photos I had taken with an Optio 550, which goes everywhere with me, and which he had been happy to use for a presentation...
Perhaps it was just a bad day.
Mind you last time I caught him on camera, it did look like he was trying to murder someone with an ironing board!.
I am currently studying Textile Design at the University of Derby, graduating in 2009 (hopefully!)


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:10
laceylou wrote:

I am being a bit of a devils advocate really to see if it gets under anyone elses skin like it did mine.

Yup, it worked, was typing that before there was a reply!

Was with my cousin again last week, showed him some test shots I did with the 43 Ltd. His response? 'F*** me, that's sharp!'

Just remember that a 'Professional' is someone who does something for a living. Taxi drivers are professionals, doesn't mean their car is better than yours and they are a better driver!



Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:12
Unlocker - yes, thats just my way of thinking as well.
It wasn't as though I was saying his photos were rubbish, most of them them were pretty good, just that I had taken some good ones as well.
I am currently studying Textile Design at the University of Derby, graduating in 2009 (hopefully!)


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:21
It's best not to think about things like this too much. I've seen some bl**dy awful photographs taken by professionals & some brilliant ones by amateurs & vice versa.

Whilst camera choice is obviously important and certainly makes a difference it certainly isn't the "be all & end all" of photography - the guy (or gal) using it needs to know what they're doing !!

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Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:22
I really don't think that there is any question about it - an amateur can take a photo that is just as good if not better in terms of quality, composition, etc etc. The difference is that a professional has to do it day in day out and find a market for his/her photos. This requires very different skills to those of simply taking a good photo.



Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:24
Thanks for the comments...

This professional is being employed by the university and so doesn't need to market the photos as such, he is just asked to go along and take whatever is asked of him, in this case me and my project!
I am currently studying Textile Design at the University of Derby, graduating in 2009 (hopefully!)


Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 22:53
Thats my point, the camera is just a tool, and you have 38 years experience. I've only been shooting for about 6-7 months, and I've been told that some of my stuff is good enough to publish, even though I don't think so yet!

Just always gets to me when twerps like this act like total idiots, and do nothing to help your confidence. I used to film weddings on my own as a teenager, and the amount of obnoxious photographers I've seen, and the way they have treated me you wouldn't believe, and the only thing that worked was to give as good as you get.

To hear comments like 'excuse me, can you stop filming I'M the professional photographer' the only way to respond that actually put them in their place was to say 'I'm the professional videographer, can you stop taking photographs?'. Once whilst shooting a wedding with my dad, the photographer was such an obnoxious t*** that he was even threatened by him in the churchyard in front of the bride & groom that were paying the bill! No one said a word as it was a bit of a shock to see this kind of behaviour at a wedding.

He bit his tongue, waited till they were both out of view at the reception, put his camera down, pinned him up against the wall, one hand round his throat, the other grabbed his crotch and said with a very calm voice 'I think you owe the bride & groom an apology'. It was beautiful, with the most wonderful look of terror on his face! I watched as he took the happy couple to one side for some photos, and gave them a groveling apology for his earlier behaviour. Had never seen my dad react like that before, and it certainly made an impression!

On a different note, been out shooting a lot outside courts recently, met loads of press photographers / BBC / ITV, and without exception so far, they have been a great bunch to be with, picked up loads of tips, a lot were interested I was shooting on Pentax and were more interested in my results than the name on the front, and not one of them had a bad word to say about the quality, if anything quietly impressed.

If your grades didn't depend on this guy, I would say give him a mouthful! It's always handy to have some one-liners ready. There is an art to making some look very small, whilst not raising your voice or swearing. I'm working on it, and getting better at it all the time!

Sorry, got a bit off topic there, but some of these 'professionals' are such arrogant (place appropriate swear word here), that will continue to be like that until someone actually puts them in their place. They must presume their arrogance justifies their prices.

Rant over now, back to normal service!



Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 23:02
laceylou wrote:
Thanks for the comments...

This professional is being employed by the university and so doesn't need to market the photos as such, he is just asked to go along and take whatever is asked of him, in this case me and my project!

I recently saw an article on taking car photos in (I think) Photography Monthy written about a pro. The photo in question looked amazing, full of drama and just hit the mark. Then I turned the page and saw the shot out of the camera - distinctly average! What he had that made the difference was the experience and knowledge to carry out very effective post processing. Many amateurs don't have the time to get to this level, however, composition can easily match that of the pro.

With Pros how often do you see what comes out of the camera? You see the finished result.

Anyway, as a Pentax fan, I always get wound up by the general (and uninformed) opinion that Canon and Nikon take the best pictures, they don't - Hasselblad do! .

There has been the debate (and ever will be) that a better camera makes for better pictures. The truth really lies in the lens and the better the lens the more opportunity to get it right you should have. Better lenses cost more - sometimes out of the reach of us amateurs but essential for the image of a pro!

A pro should take better pictures - they have so much more opportunity to, however, when the opportunity comes to an amateur the picture will be indistringuishable from the Pros. Just my opinion.
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Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 23:21
Of course there is always the possibility you tutor is telling you this as some strange way of getting you to try even harder He tells you your K10D is inferior to his D200 in the hope you will try and prove him wrong.

Its the photographer that makes the image, not the camera, and no amount of experience and qualifications will make someone a better photographer than an amatuer who has a natural flair and an eye for composition.
My Names Alan, and I'm a lensaholic.
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Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 23:25
About 11 years ago, my Uncle got married. It was a big family wedding. I was quite young at the time so I'm not completely sure if there was a pro photographer or not, I know my Dad was wielding his Pentax P30 and the best glass his lens collection had to offer. A lot of photographs were taken that night with some very fine equipment.

A decade later there is one photo from that night which has been copied more times and hangs on more walls than any other. It is a beautiful candid portrait of the bride and groom laughing at some now forgotten comment or joke. Taken by the pro? no. Taken by my Dad the experienced amateur? no. So who took it?

My little sister, aged 12 with a Pentax P550 35mm fixed lens compact.

You don't have to be a pro to take a great photograph. You don't even have to be a good photographer. All you have to be is lucky. Technique, skill, equipment, practice and all the other things that go with our hobby only serve to reduce the level of luck you need.
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Link Posted 09/04/2008 - 23:46
I was shooting a wedding last summer.
Nightmarish lighting situation, wealthy clientelle.
Had one guest there who was kind enough to tell everyone within earshot, about how much better his pro (Canon) camera and (red banded) pro lenses were than my amature pentax ds2 and canon g5.

I smiled and went about my work. He went around showing off the images in the lcd screen on the back of his camera.

Later in the evening, when I started running a slideshow of my images on a digital projector, I noticed Mr. "I'm Better than the pro" put his camera back in it's bag, remained quiet, while people praised the images I was showing.

There are two factors here.

The proof is in the photos. Period.
The money goes to the person with the better business skills.

It's business skills that seperate the pro's from the amatures.
You can be a great photographer with no business skills. You just can't call yourself a pro, unless you're getting paid.
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.
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