Confessions of a So-Called PRO.

In Pep Talks, Rants and Sermons, Vision Is Better by David242 Comments

Shot in Senegal. Long shutter speed. Dawn. Through the windshield. Moments before driver drove off the road, through the ditch and stalled in the bushes.

A while back I wrote a piece about the “I’m only an amateur” mentality. In brief it was an unashamed rally call to photographers everywhere to stop seeing themselves as merely an enthusiast, not yet in the hallowed halls of the professional, and therefore not “really” a photographer. Rubbish. But this is not that pep talk. This is the reverse, the one that, I hope will remind you that this status to which so many aspire, this notion of a higher echelon occupied by the Professional, is equally rubbish. I am an unabashed champion of the amateur, the one who does this for the love of it, and the idea of professionals being better, or creating better work, has to go. I discourage non-professionals from saying, “I’m just an amateur” but I cringe as much when I hear people throw the term “professional” around as though it means something more than it does.

So to disabuse you of the notion, let me be as transparent as possible.

I make a living as a photographer and a photography teacher. I create work I love, and work that my clients love. Sometimes I get paid well for it, sometimes I get paid nothing. That paycheque doesn’t necessarily mean my work is good, and it sure as Kodak doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better work than anything my non-professional friends create. But it gets worse, folks:

I don’t clean my sensor as much as I ought to, and I fear the times I have to. So I blow the damn thing out with canned air. It works, but I don’t recommend it.

I often leave my ISO dangerously high. I get more email about why I shot something at ISO 800 than anything else and that tells me (a) I should get my act together and (b) y’all need to lighten up on the whole ISO issue.

I rarely use lens caps, often lose filters, and am known for throwing a lens in a bag without an end cap. I have other friends who change lenses with one under the arm, another between the knees and a camera body flailing wildly about in order to catch as much dust as possible.

I have more confidence in my ability to hand-hold a shot at 1/30 than I ought to have and still have yet to learn from this. You’d think with my ridiculously high ISOs and my total unwillingness to close my aperture, I’d have plenty of latitude with this, but you’d be wrong.

I get emails about colour-calibration and printing methods and am forced to reply with a vague, “go ask Vincent Versace” because I do one of two things, I give the clients the files and their own pre-press guys do the work, or I send it to mPix (for prints) or Artistic Photo Canvas (for canvas) and they just make it look great.

People ask me about how to use their flash in two groups balanced with ambient and I stare awkwardly at them and give them Joe McNally’s email address or home phone number and beg them to (a) never tell Joe I sent them and (b) never to speak of this ever again.

I have long forgotten everything I knew about the zone system and now expose purely in reverse. Shoot first, look at the histogram, then get it right, instead of the way I learn which was the more sensible “meter twice, shoot once.”

My eyes gloss over when people start talking about channel-specific curves adjustments in Photoshop or Keywording in Lightroom. I should know this stuff. But I just want to make images, man.

I’ve never used a tilt/shift lens and while I aim to change that it seems a pro ought to be able to do that. Same for the 4×5 field camera I recently bought. Took me a day to figure out how to load the film. Then I got distracted. For now it just looks cool. Last time it was used in a shoot it was only a prop.

I carry my tripod. An expensive one at that. And while I am really get much better at using it when I ought to, I still prefer to shoot blurry images than set the darn thing up. Might as well leave it at home half the time, but a “pro” wouldn’t do that.

I love shallow depth of field. The shallower the better, even if that means losing important stuff to the blur. Of course I think about that afterwards, and then regret that 1.2 aperture, but I get greedy with my bokeh.

I hate the word bokeh. A pro ought to be able to use that word with a straight face, I just feel like I’m trying too hard. My images don’t so much have bokeh as large sections of fuzzy bits.

I still shoot twenty frames before realizing that the EV compensation I cranked up is still cranked up and I’ve hopelessly lost good images to the blinkies.

And really, a so-called pro should know better. Except we don’t and the ones that say they do are lying. Thing is, I’d rather get so distracted by the things I am shooting, and lose the odd shot to my distraction and crappy exposure, or, God forbid, a high ISO, than get distracted by the tech-stuff and those things a pro “ought” to be doing, and never see the moments, never experience the wonder. Does it have to be one or the other? Of course not, but then I’ve only been shooting for 20 years so I’m still new at this, easily distracted, still in love with images more than gear (and man, do I love my gear!). I’m still learning, and the best photographers – pro or otherwise –  are too. And more to the point, I’m making images that I love. Craft matters,  with apologies to Ansel Adams, who said there’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept, there is:  a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept. Then it’s just total crap.

Folks, confession is good for the soul. Who cares if you’re a pro or not? We’re all learning, all getting better at this. As my friend Sabrina Henry wrote recently, it might just be that defining moments are more important than decisive ones.

So to the amateur out there, I’m reminding you, you aren’t “just an amateur.” To the pro, you’re still “just a photographer.” And to all of us, an invitation to let the bad air out. Got a photographic confession? The comments are open.


  1. Guilty myself and it is refreshing to hear from so many similar stories I shot the inside shots of the bride then went outside into bright sunlight – ISO still at 1600!!! Thanks goodness only took about a dozen shots before I realised

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  3. I just keep on lovin’ you, David! Your previous post about “just an amateur” rang home for me, and this one ties it up nicely. Another step towards my positive attitude adjustment.

    I. Am. A. Photographer. 😀

  4. thank you. I can relate to everything, it just depends on the day.

  5. Thank you so much for your honesty, David! I have been a do-it-yourselfer all my photography life and my greatest joy is still creating an image that “I” like….no matter how it happened.

  6. Well, well… I didn’t realize I had a twin out there. I’d say I’m probably guilty of all of those things you’ve listed and I’ve been shooting 35 years at least in one form or another. (but really, I’m only 39. Honest!). The only time I ever calibrate my monitor is when X-Rite does it for free at a photo seminar I’m attending!
    And speaking of photo seminars, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that most of the photographers I was learning from would ‘chimp’ their shot to make sure their setting were right. I thought I was the only one that did that because I was an “amateur”!!
    I remember the first time I shot a college football game alongside the “pros” in the business when I was a budding new sports photographer. I thought I’d never measure up. They HAD to be getting all those perfect images right out of the camera. At halftime, as I sheepishly peeked at them working away to upload images, I notices that they had the same shots up on the screen that required the same crops and the same adjustments that mine did in order to make them usable as those “perfect shots”.
    It’s nice to know that there are so many of us out there doing the same things to get the images we want. And, I’ve become pretty good at “post-visualization” 😉

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  9. Oh I can so relate to so many of these things! Shot a bride inside at ISO 1600 and did I change back when we went outside??? Ahhh NO!
    Great article!

  10. I laughed so hard at this it made me cry! Thank you!

    My confession: I’ve dropped my camera down rocky slopes and dented more UV filters than I’d like to say. I’ve had it five years taken it up dusty mountains, on boats and through the Sahara and still have ‘get camera cleaned’ on my to do list 😉

  11. Folks ask me if I am a professional when they see my gear…I tell them I am a photographer and I don’t get paid.

    Fritz Geil…great statement ’cause I feel many confuse the terms or think the term Professional means better than….

    Great Blog. I think I will follow it.

  12. Surprisingly, you never mentioned that the term “amateur” comes from the Latin “amator” by way of the French, and means “lover of,” and nothing more. The term “professional” merely means that you get paid to do [whatever], and nothing more. So, I suspect that you, like I, are both an amateur and a professional photographer… God help us both!

  13. Thanks for this great article. I need to read it back from time to time and don’t punish myself too much for little mistakes like the ones you’ve mentioned!

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  15. Thank you! Thank you for saying so well what so many of us feel as photographers, and revealing how we really work. The entire issue of professional and amateur is in the end a meaningless distinction since one is left with the photograph. It is either compelling or not. It succeeds or it fails on its merits–no matter if the photographer was paid to do it or not.

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  17. Hi David,

    Been reading your blog and your books for a while now and still feeling you actually help me developping my professional identity as a travel photographer; 1000 thanks for that! 🙂
    Now, the question! I happen to follow Stephan Alvarez Blog as well and found this image in his portfolio: There/Getting There Gallery/17

    How do you explain the similiraty of inspiration and technology usage among travel photographers in such different places (The Senegal and Australia)?

  18. Thank you for this post David. I always forget to put the flash card in the camera, shooting and checking my exposure to get the perfect image. Only to realize that all of them have just been sent off into that blackhole the camera has if there is no “film”. Not much of a pro if I don’t create anything to look at!

  19. Great “reality” Post David-

    pro, amateur…sometimes I don’t like the word photographer. let’s just take pictures and enjoy what we do!


  20. love your confessions! 🙂 found myself in some of them. got the shivers at some others (no back cap).

    i think the core of all this is – we all are humans.

    well, and as a human i have to make a confession myself: i often compare the pictures of other “photographying humans” to my own and rank myself (“i’m better as this.” or “wow! will i ever be as good as that?”). even though i know it’s pointless.

  21. You are a god! 🙂 really, this was perfect and timely. Thanks for putting it out there.

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  23. Really great post, David. From an amateur who is still unsure even what my passion is–those flubs to which you admit make me feel like even more of a poser. So great to hear they still happen to the best.

  24. That is the most reassuring and inspiring thing i have ever read or heard. Also, i’m with you on the wide open aperture, can’t get enough of it..

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  27. came by because I was following the swarm of red herrings to north sea. nice to know some folks are human. get tired of being bashed for my humanity and ignorance which is rather different than ignorance of humanity.

    hate tripods as much as I hate umbrellas. There’s something impersonal about the things, something so deadly tedious like jacking a car with flat tire. Have one– it was foisted on me, so I took it to the kitchen, spread it’s legs, thumped it down properly to make sure it was stable, fiddled with it and then rakishly screwed on the camera. It rather skidded off on one leg and then looked like a derelict lorry with all the tires shot out on one side or more pathetically like a freighter that I once saw keel over in the bay.

    this elicited a rather gleeful response because it answered both questions at one time– yes, I have a tripod to those who insist I buy one and to my own joy, a lopsided one.

    But to be honest I can’t see much use in it other than a backache and fumbling with one for insect shoots is good subject for Bugs Bunny cartoon or roadrunner, whichever you prefer.

    and all the other stuff, like post-processing is a bit of arcane mystery of unmask or subglossian blur or caucasian filter–

    So I tell the world, I don’t know nuthin” because it alleviates me the burden of pomposity and pretense both.

  28. I’m so glad I decided to get caught up on your posts David, shame on me for ignoring them for a couple of weeks.

    I love photography, I have considered myself a “photographer for the past 2+ years. I still have a full time “other” job. I get confused on how to make money at this. I have plans but not enough time. I make excuses just like I am doing now. I have to change my thinking even more. In my heart I know I will be successful because I love this craft so much. So in a since I already am successful. I must continue to grow as a photographer but more importantly right now a business person. That sucks, it takes away from what I love about this, but it is a necessary evil I know. I refuse to give up or take a step back without running forward first. I must take risks and be willing to except the results.

    I confess, I want almost need to be successful or I will feel like I have wasted this time in my life, that scares me. But I also understand true success has nothing to to with money, and everything to do with how people think, and will remember you.

    Thanks David for helping put those mixed up thoughts into typed words. It is always healing to get things out.


  29. Whatever it means, I just read through practically all those responses and I have never been more riveted on a subject. This has been a fantastic learning experience for me. Not that it means I will ever remember to change the ISO, my WB, or that I shut off the AF to set my white balance. Things like that continually haunt me in my photography experience. I do, for the most part keep my lens caps on except during the odd rush, and but especially, when I am done shooting. Although many time I don’t know where I put them.
    I suffer a lot of conflictions, but I love taking pictures. And Davids “confession” goes a long way in explaining where I stand in the photographers community. I am, plain and simple, a photographer.
    I thank you David and all the others that wrote and spilled their guts helping me to gain that insight.

  30. Honest, funny and well written—congratulations, David. Your writing’s as good as your photography, and that’s quite an achievement.

  31. Confession is good and you’re great at it. Thanks for the honesty and humility — I’m encouraged and more motivated now. My confession: I recently shot a wedding with the flash angled up instead of straight on and couldn’t figure out why I had to keep pushing the ISO to get enough light for the shots. Fortunately I shot in RAW and knew someone who could show me how to do some simple editing to salvage the shots, the bride was mature and a friend who was happy with everything and I confirmed that weddings are not for me. Flash is such a mystery!
    You are such an inspiration.

  32. Really wonderfully put. I feel much the same as you. I hate carrying/using a tripod, shoot for the joy of shooting and couldn’t care less about all that technical stuff. In fact, if you want a confession – I really don’t understand what is wrong with shooting jpeg over raw. I understand there are more options for manipulation when shooting in raw and that your original image stays pure, but for me, it’s more hassle than it’s worth. I SHOOT IN JPEG. There, I’ve said it. I doubt very seriously anyone can tell in outcome what the origin of the file was. I just wanna shoot.

  33. Thank you! You’ve released me from my guilt! I’ve won contests and have gotten in to some pretty big juried shows feeling like a fraud because I couldn’t speak the speak and lived in fear of too many questions. Now I can say, “I don’t remember” and move ahead with the truth as I see it.

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  35. I’m so with you on the exposure correction and a few months ago I went from shooting a concert for one buisness to shooting a wedding the next morning. I had shot the whole wedding at 1600. I felt like an awesome human being that day! lol

  36. I am really only beginning this photography thing, but I really love it, and just being able to understand most of things you talked about and know why they are so funny made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thank you for the great work, and keep it up!

  37. I know it’s time to get my sensor cleaned when I start spending more time cleaning up dust spots in one single picture than it takes downloading the hole 32GB of CF cards to the hard drive

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  39. This is hilarious and so encouraging! (You were very clearly a comedian before you were a photographer!) I’m not an amateur, but I don’t think of myself as a pro (though I suppose, by definition, I am, since I make money off it). I will admit that I love the word bokeh, or rather, I guiltily love explaining what it is to non-photographer friends… hehe… 🙂

  40. Ok, so this is like the best post ever! Ha! There are so many confessions I have and much to learn. Thanks for being so open and honest and this is really inspiring to me! 🙂

  41. “I’ve never been really interested in the technical side of, well, of anything for that matter, but particularly photography. I know enough about the camera, I know enough about the craft to do my work, but it’s not something I really dwell on. I use a simple camera and a couple of lenses. To light things and all that nonsense, that becomes more like work.”

    ~Steve McCurry

  42. That was the best thing I have read in a long time. I loved it!!

    … This made me feel so warm and bokeh inside.

  43. David,

    Nice article David.

    Having been a professional in a few fields it is nice to see someone taking the term to task. It is well acknowledged, but never spoken aloud in my current profession that the “amateurs” do the ground breaking work being unconstrained by the expectations of their workplace and public opinion. We, as “professionals”, hoe the narrow row except where our budgets allow us freedoms otherwise unobtainable to the “amateur”. Their passion is no less, neither is their skill nor their dedication – a paycheck is the only “official” distinction.

    As North Americans we seem to need labels; we, as a culture, crave to be defined by one term or another and to define others by labels of our choosing. These are handy placeholders, sometimes limiting, sometimes wrong, but pure fabrications of linguistic history. Language evolves, as do attitudes, as do vocations (see, I do listen).

    Not that it matters – but in my opinion your pieces speaks more as a call to evolve our language and our understanding; to release ourselves from unnecessary labels that do nothing but bind us to some preconceived notion of quality and entitlement.

    Let our work and our passion stand as testament to our ability – something no label could ever contain.

  44. Ha HA! this is awesome.
    I was forced through the front door after a layoff last year. This would be lay off number 5 in one decade. I went to Art college for Photography in the 90’s. Digital imaging was an *ahem* elective. All I ever wanted to do was work for National Geographic. I even tried to get an internship there. HAHAHHAHAHA! wasn’t I funny?!?!?

    Fast forward 10 years from finishing school and I’m living in a home with a darkroom that remains untouched, working a souless job in finance and wondering if I’ll ever pick up the camera again. I did–because I had a chance to travel to southeast asia. I went digital (in 2008–No, really) Man, Did I catch the bug again. 2009 I’m laid off and looking for a job in finance that simply doesn’t exist…..I got a job as a wedding photographers assistant. I lied and said that I had been constantly shooting for ten years, when in reality–I hadn’t picked up the camera from 2001 to 2008.(I had a four hour commute) One thing I did know is how to run a business and I realized that not only were my photos better, but I could run a business better, too. I am. I am still learning the virtues of Photoshop. I can’t recall a damn thing from my school days about OCL–It involved Polaroids to check light..No really. I got most of my OCL from Strobist. I bought a beat up old D200 knowing full well it had been discontinued some years ago–gear? I can take a picture–I just needed more settings.
    I can manage a business quite well. But when I shoot a client…I am moving my OCL’s around, leaving my lens cap on, arguing with my husband on the composition…. (he was forced through the front door as well–about three months ago)

    When did I consider myself a pro? When someone offered to pay me for a picture. However, I’m still learning. I learn something new every day. I deconstruct my competitions photos, I watch photoshop tuts, I tweek my pics, I shoot with a fixed length lens—all just to see what I will get and what i can do with it. So, while I’m asking people to pay for my work I am also living each day trying to learn something new.

    I loved the darkroom and everything about working in it. I’m starting to feel the same way about Photoshop. (I was scared and hateful about it for years) It’s a different kind of love, but I do like what it can dooooooo….

    Now…can someone please help me with marketing? uhg!

  45. Author

    Paul, I think we’re at an end to this discussion. I think if you read over the last 5 years of my archived articles that you’ll find we’re not in complete disagreement over many of these things, only the path it takes to get there. I appreciate your comments, but as this is not a discussion forum per se, it might be better to have this talk sometime over a beer.

  46. See the message people get from the article…
    comment number 181 by: Dorian
    March 10th, 2010 at 9:16 am

    “A possible solution to the professional/amateur dichotomy:
    get a friend to go thru your photos and pay you $1.00 for their favorite photo. Voila! instant professional.”

    You are actually loosing money for it cost you more to take the photo… gas, gear, computer, electricity etc…
    Yes selling a bunch of photos seems like great… but unless you are willing to chase down the pirated copies or those given away online they become valueless quickly… or some person comes along and sells images for 0.50 or 0.05 just so they can feel like a pro…

  47. That lumped in feeling your getting is from David’s statements themselves…

    “I discourage non-professionals from saying, “I’m just an amateur” but I cringe as much when I hear people throw the term “professional” around as though it means something more than it does.”

    “And really, a so-called pro should know better. Except we don’t and the ones that say they do are lying.”

    “So to the amateur out there, I’m reminding you, you aren’t “just an amateur.” To the pro, you’re still “just a photographer.” And to all of us, an invitation to let the bad air out. Got a photographic confession? The comments are open.”

    Because he devalues someone who actually knows the tools of their craft/trade (no matter the value) who studies what those tools do how they work and why they do what they do. This is sad because it treats the operator and those who do it for a living as if it something even a monkey can do if they just point the camera in a direction and shoot… Something that is not true.

    You can take photos because you are passionate about photography then you are a photographer by operating a camera but the professional part comes from the actual work and effort of learning and knowing and executing. Yes the pro will make mistakes but far less likely to do so than someone is new. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes they are great for learning… BUT there is VALUE in those who know what they are doing.

    Another quote that seems so inspiring to a person who is new to photography… but really hurts them in the long run…

    “Thing is, I’d rather get so distracted by the things I am shooting, and lose the odd shot to my distraction and crappy exposure,”

    Well if you knew the tools of your trade you would more than likely be able to operate them at a rate where you would not miss out on photos and end up with the results you wanted.
    Knowing how your equipment works will get you more quality photos than not knowing it… unless you wish to be stuck in front of the computer for hours editing and not able to do what you want and love to do which is taking photos.

    Going to make a guess…
    My guess is David started selling stock images about 20 years ago. Back then you got paid big money for images… today you do not get so much and it is harder and harder to sell photos for a rate that is worthy of your efforts if you decide to dedicate your life to taking images. So now it is just a numbers game… He admits he does not care about the images he is trying to create because he does not bother to be assured the tool of his craft is ready to take the image as he wants.
    Something that simply know that gear he loves would remedy.

    There are so many contradictions in his statement it is no wonder you start off with and continue with…
    “I really don’t believe David meant it quite like…”
    “I think the point that David is making is…”
    Because he does not clearly state something here… it is ambiguous enough that people can take out of it what they wish but the clear message is that… Ohh it does not matter what you know you’re a photographer from the day you pick up the camera just as much as twenty years later and despite years of study and knowledge obtained it has not value professionally.

    The tools themselves while these days are getting to be more important, as digital improves (still not as great as film), yet there is still a need to know how they work even if they can seemingly do all the figuring for you…

    There is not a real need to have the most expensive gear yet sadly the consumers who hire photographers have started placing value on those with more expensive gear because there are so many out there who don’t know what they are doing and don’t know how to operate their equipment who charge people for services as a photographer and produce crap…
    So the consumers thoughts go to well the value/cost of the gear and how fancy the site is must matter… Because people like David say ohh there is no difference between a pro and an amateur…

    Well there is it is.
    That difference is the person who takes the time to know what they are doing and why they get what they get not just hoping they are going to get lucky on someone else’s dime.

  48. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU….I dont call myself an amateur I call myself a “green pea” and it is so nice to read the confessions of a “non green pea” and that those confessions are about all the things I worry about and what it boils down to is as long as it looks good and feels good….it is GOOD!!!!!!!

  49. I loved this piece! I enjoy taking pictures…some are O.K. and a few good. My camera is an old model, but does everything I need.The words “histogram” and “bokah” make me feel insecure.What am I doing wrong.LOL

  50. A possible solution to the professional/amateur dichotomy:
    get a friend to go thru your photos and pay you $1.00 for their favorite photo. Voila! instant professional.

    And if someone gives you a hard time, start talking about the importance of micro-payments to the evolving economy. By that time their eyes should glaze over and you can get back to looking at the world.

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  52. Brilliant. I think I’m in love with you. My poor, ego-in-the-toilet-I’ll-never-be-as-good-as-those-guys self just breathed a giant sigh of relief. This post was a gift. I nodded in agreement, I smiled, I think I blushed in embarrassment a time or two because I’d done the same things. Thank you for writing it.

  53. Paul ~

    I truly appreciate your arguments and I absolutely understand the angle you’re taking this from, but I really don’t believe David meant it quite like you’ve taken it. You make a series of excellent points, from an entirely different perspective and really on a different level than what seems to me to be the intent here.

    I can relate to the message in this post in a very big way. I live in a rural area where professional photography businesses have started popping up like WEEDS. I didn’t notice it until I decided that I would like to move my passion for photography to a different level and try to earn money at it (mostly to fund more lenses and other “toys”).

    Now I find myself lumped in with a group where supposed professional photographers who have no eye for composition, whose post-processing skills are just sad, whose images consistently look flat and lifeless are getting business from people who say (they may be lying to make me feel better, but they say it anyway) that they would have hired me, BUT… BUT the other photographers have more expensive equipment than I have, BUT they have more toys than I have, BUT they found somebody to set up a Flash-based website of their work. They’re perceived as being more established so they get work that I would have done differently, and in my opinion would have been done better.

    Not all of my work is great, but a lot of it is GOOD. I can consistently provide quality images. I’m working to develop the art AS WELL AS the science of my photography, so I’m seeing an increase in the good and the better. And not all of the competition in the area is bad. There are quite a few photographers who have the same goal as I have who are hands-down better than I am.

    On the other hand, I know hobbyist or amateur photographers who turn out a high ratio of wonderful images but who pale and stammer when referred to as “a photographer.”

    I think the point that David is making is that being new, not having the newest or most expensive equipment, just shooting in the evenings or on the weekends, never getting paid, or making mistakes that you think are just stupid and you should be beyond already DOESN’T MAKE YOU *NOT* A PHOTOGRAPHER. They just mean you’ve still got stuff to learn and room to grow. On the other hand, having equipment a lot of us would drool over, being paid thousands of dollars for your work, being able to write a dissertation on the technical workings of your camera, lens or Photoshop, or having been in the field longer DOESN’T MAKE YOU A FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHER. I think he’s saying that it’s possible to make mistakes and still be good. It’s possible to not know something and still be good. And if you look at this post in the context of the larger set of work, I think you’ll find that it’s truly meant to be encouragement, not a blanket endorsement of treating your equipment poorly.

    I think the field is being devalued because people who do take care of their expensive equipment and think they know photography because they can speak in photocode are impressive to people who don’t know better. But I guess if the client is satisfied with lifeless non-art, then I shouldn’t complain about not being able to provide art? Because I don’t always know where my lens caps are? (I do keep my cameras stowed away safely… 98 of the time.) I’m really asking, it’s a question I ask myself daily. Sometimes 200 times a day.

    I’ll stop there with my expanded sob story. Am I a professional? Amateur? I don’t know. I’m just glad that someone who makes a living at writing about, lecturing on, and working at photography said “lost to the blinkies” and I know EXACTLY what he means.

    I would have messaged you privately about this, but you have no contact information available.

  54. To take it another direction…
    An actor is just an actor and anyone can get up on stage and perform Shakespeare as intended… no need to rehearse no need to work on enunciation or to worry about the pattern composed in the manner which it has been written. They can simply walk on stage and start talking jibberish… That will be enough to satisfy all the audience who paid their hard earned money to see Shakespeare performed as it is written with the words he wrote… why because according to your logic… there is no one who is better than anyone else when it comes to doing something.

    Now if someone wanted to alter that and take Shakespeare and adapt it and work it… and charge money to have people see it… No matter what it still has to be good and that will take some research and understanding of Shakespeare in order to actually have it relate.
    There is a need for intent and there is reward in talent and a whole lot of luck being in the right place at the right time.
    The photo you have at the top… it is ONE photo worked a bit I am sure and if it were a different condition of lighting in that moment I am sure it would not have come out.. and we would have never seen it… then again you have admitted you put work out there even when you do not like it… is that for the pride and passion of what you love? Or the need to replace gear you do not take care of.
    Canned air use on a sensor is a void of warranty just an FYI to all the newbies in the photography field.

  55. Professional – Adjective (being an adjective it makes it something more than “just a” )
    Date: 1606
    1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace_2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs b : having a particular profession as a permanent career c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return _3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession

    It is not about elitism it is about ensuring that there is understanding that not everyone can take great photos on a regular consistency and not everyone who buys gear and sets it on auto is prepared to enter the world of a paid photographer providing a service… A pro is not “just a photographer” and it is a true shame you would take years of dedication and limit it to that. This lack of distinction is where you lack to see the error of your message.

    I am guessing you do stock photography and travel many places… Great… I encourage people to take photos and travel and enjoy. Yet the part you glaringly forget is that your words are also encouraging people to take on things like weddings and other assigned gigs because you do not define the need to be consistent or knowledgeable.

    Back when film was king and digital had yet to be I can tell you of horror stories where so called “pros” who got a taste of stock photography on one or two photos out of thousands they took started taking wedding photos because they were not making much in stock for they could not consistently get quality images without spending a fortune in film and processing. I cannot tell you how many times I heard how film was not loaded in the camera, the images were thin or just a mess… why because someone did not have the Pro Skill Set to actually know how to consistently take photos and how their equipment worked.
    Digital can be just as bad because of just poor composition and images that just lack the ability to capture the beauty the moment is intended to be, among the many other things that can go array too.

    You see to encourage everyone to be on the same level from someone who has made a living in a particular field by WORKING and LEARNING is like telling a student hey you passed 2nd grade now you can teach 2nd grade. Sorry but simply not true.

    The industry is being devalued, as I am sure you have seen. It is because people like yourself are doing so by apparently not taking pride in your craft.

    A lumberjack sharpens his ax and knows how his chainsaw tends to react under given conditions as well as calculates how the tree will fall.
    The pro tree cutters more often than not will have the tree land safely in a yard if not they will go out of business but not without discouraging those dependent on the service and leading them to try it themselves before calling a pro. We all have seen the youtube videos of what an inexperience person can do when cutting down trees.

    “I make a living as a photographer and a photography teacher. I create work I love, and work that my clients love. Sometimes I get paid well for it, sometimes I get paid nothing. That paycheque doesn’t necessarily mean my work is good”
    This here is an a very sad statement… It shows a like of pride… If you are willing to put out there what you do not even like… It also admits you take enough photos that eventually you get lucky and sell them.

    The list of things you do not do or know… well a guitarist who does not replace his strings will not be able to play… The person walking into photography for the first time reads about not using a lens cap may end up not able to take pictures because their lens was damaged because you are saying hey it is OK… Well you apparently have money to spend to replace damaged gear and lenses but more often than not most people don’t. That is a true disservice to those who are entering into photography.

    I am sorry but articles like this are what hurt the people you are supposed to provide a service to and the craft as a profession itself.

    YES EVERYONE TAKE PHOTOS! I encourage you to do so and am happy to help them do so… I have taught at the college, high school, privately and for groups… but I remind people you need to know the tools of your profession as well as truly work at something before you get good at it… I do not see an athlete who does not work at his talents or maintain their equipment ever make it beyond the rec leagues… Nor does telling people to not bother taking PRIDE in what you do help them get better at what they love doing. You must continue learning about the passion you are pursuing in order to achieve getting better. Otherwise you just get lucky and depend on others to clean up on your mistakes or you devalue the very thing you love by every once in a while selling an image or having to sell thousands of the image for a pittance.

    To say a comment by Ansel Adams is crap… well how is it he has sold more photos had more exhibits than you could dream of… there is obviously something about that. It is called a well honed skill that took practice, pride, and some god given talent.

  56. David – Thank you for sharing this! The best people share all aspects of their craft and know that sharing truth contributes to many facets of real teaching and learning. I never understood people who keep secrets.

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  58. Hello,

    first, thanks for the article, I really liked reading it. Now to some comments, esp. the ones by Mr Steve Perks und Mr Paul (to the latter’s comment Mr DuChemin has also commented on).
    I consider myself an amateur photographer. But I use this term not in the sense as discussed in the article (which is, as I have understood, about the quality of the photographs taken) but in the sense of not earning money to make a living with it.
    I know that I can make decent photographs and I’ve even gotten a handfull that I’m seriously proud of and show to people (whether they want it or not ;)). I do shoot on weddings for friends and family, even the odd portrait session. But if asked whether I’d do it for other people for free also I decline or name a price respectively.
    Why? Because I know how it feels to not get jobs because “I know someone who can do it for free” (I’m a professional software and web developer) and I can understand the frustration this brings up in people like Mr. Paul who want/need to make a living out off photography.

    Just wanted to emphasize this.

    But what I’m surprised (and glad) about is the fact that out of almost 170 there is not more discussion along those lines. I consider this a compliment to your writing and your audience Mr. DuChemin 🙂

  59. My confessions?

    I scratch my head in confusion when people ask me about the aperture and f/stop.

    I don’t know half the functions on my camera and after 8 months in business I’m still learning them.

    Most of the time I use auto-focus. I know right…such a crime against photography.

    I also disagree with the idea that you have to have a diploma or degree in photography to be called a professional or even be good. The amount of praise I’ve received for my own work says otherwise, at least to me. And even then I can always be better.

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  61. This made me smile the entire way through…and as a student, I really appreciated it after a very good instructor’s critique of what I thought was a pretty decent photo, but ended up being only “B” worthy..which is ok…This was a good reminder and put it all in perspective 🙂 ….PS – The word bokeh always makes me laugh…not pronounced the same way, but the Turkish word bok means $h*t ….no way in the world I can ever use bokeh with a straight face …its like saying $h*t, eh?

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  63. Check my camera settings each time that I use it?
    What a novel idea!
    I have a rather large group of photographer friends that I meet and have lunch with every week. After we break bread, we go out and shoot, laugh, laugh and crack jokes and shoot some more. Loving the art and having fun doing it, isn’t that the point?

  64. Funny, I’ve been shooting for 42 years, love iso 800 on low light days, hand hold my 400 all the time, still forget to check my exposure compensation until after I blew the 1st burst of shots. I’m still learning, and I still love my job as a photographer, and my hobby as a wildlife photographer.

  65. @Paul (159) – You missed the point completely. I’m not saying anyoneor everyone can do this professionally, I’m saying you don’t need to be a “pro” in order to love being a photographer, for that matter, to do it well. The labels are irrelevant and mediocrity permeates this field because of those labels, not because I’m suggesting a pro can make mistakes and still crank out great images. My experience tells me that the people trying to build these walls and make so-called professional photography an elitist thing are the very ones threatened because they spend more time polishing their PPA membership and less time creating compelling work. Tell me, do you think the people who commented above ate going to do better, and potentially create better work, because of it, or worse? Do you think they’re all going to rush out and try to be working photographers and steal your work? Render a little love, man. As for my motives, I do it to keep the little people in place so there’s more room for me at the top 🙂 Seriously? My motives? For encouraging people? Wow.

  66. Im new to photography and went to a workshop lately and the instructor asked “How many stops between f8 and f22?”…all 15 of us (most were ‘Pro’ just looked at each other, the real ‘Pros’ just looked at their IDs MkII’s pretending they were too busy to hear the question; no one was game enough to answer it. One person eventually answered “One!” -completely incorrect. I was horrified that these ‘Pros’ didnt know the answer. Just shows that we all have much to learn, and that some people are just full of crap.
    Love your honesty David. Refreshing.

  67. This is so refreshing to read. I have earned money as a photographer, and intend to do so in bigger quantities in the future (when I abandon the day job), however I am “guilty” of almost all of the “sins” you talk about in this article. The way I see it; as long as I get images I’m happy with, and my clients are happy with, then everyone is happy!

  68. You’re my hero. 🙂 All kidding aside, I spend waaayy too much time obsessing over technical details and not enough time capturing and expressing my vision. Your attitude is wonderful, and I can only hope I can learn that as well as I can learn the histogram.

  69. I’ve been shooting for nearly two years with a point and click and just recently got an slr and I’m terrified of it, lol. But I’m still learning the same way I always have…flying by the seat of my pants and just pushing buttons wondering what will happen! I rely on Photoshop to fix my screw ups far more often than I should.

    And I don’t know what half that stuff you talked about even is!

  70. Having read through what you wrote I must question the motive behind why you have written it as someone who has a skill set that they have worked on and obviously some form of an education in photography if only years of experience and effort.
    The very fact your bio says you specialize indicates you work at it.
    Anyone can take a photo and anyone after taking enough photos can get a good photo once in a while… just as anyone shooting at a target will hit the bullseye once in a while.
    The issue is that people are encouraged to go out and claim to be a photographer and honestly are not experienced enough to start doing this for a living. The whole art form and business suffers because of it. The reason is that people devalue the work and effort put into it by someone who has dedicated their life and depends upon the income as a photographer.
    I have seen how people who say ohh I am going to be a photographer go out buy the highest price gear they can and start charging for services but yet do not even know what an F-stop is. This does happen in many other ways… Not everyone is suited to be a photographer. Anyone is suited to enjoy taking photos and if they are happy that is great. The issue is when they are claiming a service. For those who are trained and or have worked for decades are faced with masses of people buying gear that is less costly to take photos with, while our work may be better technically, aesthetically, and have that gifted eye are lessened.
    I may enjoy building things like model boats but that does not make me a boat builder… nor does hitting the bullseye every once in a while make me a marksman… but it can make me an enthusiast.
    You encourage people to take photos but what you also do is make a living off a honed skill set.
    Something that not everyone can provide or do… you seem to forget this.
    Being a professional takes a higher level of dedication and life or classroom education. It does not mean simply buying a bunch of gear and simply setting up shop and the next week you are pro even if you have never taken photos before and depend solely on the camera to take the photos. There is more to it than that and it would be appreciated if you would not give people a sense of hope beyond truly enjoying taking photos…
    I can hit a baseball, shoot a basketball and I love doing so… but I do not have the skills to be a pro in either. Photography is no different.

  71. David, this is one of the best pieces of writing that I have ever read. It is honest, passionate, and increadibly relevant. I applaud your a ability to get to the heart of an issue and, in a dissarming manner, spread the seeds of change. Not only is everything that you said true, but it is the Zen Mind (beginner’s mind where everything is fresh and exciting) that we must all maintain in order to be the best that we can be–amateur or pro.

  72. Hey, David!
    I have to blame you for loosing interest in 75% of the blogs and websites about photography I used to visit frequently as most of them are about gear and techniques to make pictures and not about the process to do so.
    I’ve read once from a “pro’s” blog how upsetting is to compete in an industry where “weekend warriors” and “amateurs” are doing cheaper bussiness and taking out of the picture those ones that got a degree and are dedicated full time to photography as a way of living, so it comes to my mind that this person should be more occupied in improving his craft and eventually his images and make a real difference between his pro work and amateurs’.

  73. I am also guilty of all that and so much more, but it is good to know that one of my favorite photographers is far from perfect and bold enough to admit it!

  74. I find this post to be rather encouraging. My only technical knowledge comes from a semester of photography class in high school, so I’m rather limited in the things I know and understand. Sure I know what ISO and aperture are, but that’s about it. Everything else is just knowing what buttons do what and things I’ve learned from experience.

  75. Hey David,
    This is exactly what I needed to read. I love making great images and many times get caught up in the tech stuff like those mentioned in your article. Thank You! For some reason, I still consider myself an amateur, but also “just a photographer.”

  76. lewls. totally man, those pseudo-intellectual self-proclaimed professionals just tick the hell out of me. Especially those ones who keep talking technical but when you see them on field action they have their built-in flash popped out while using telephoto lens.

    my confession; i always forget to change the ISO setting on my camera when i switch film rolls of different ISO’s, but thanks to that error I discovered that when I left my camera ISO setting on 400 and used a 100 ISO film the results had an old-faded photo effect. Yup, we just keep learning.

  77. Amen brother! Some of my best shots were when I didn’t do something I should have. As you said I think it should be more about the moment, the experience, not about always being so technical or about the gear.

  78. Thank you, thank you for writing this. Really. It took a lot for me to get over being embarrassed for asking “stupid” questions, or admitting that I didn’t know something when everyone else was shaking their heads. But if you ever want to learn anything, at some point you’ve gotta man up and admit you don’t understand.

    I’m so mean to my poor lenses. Half have no lens caps, or end caps (what happened to all of my end caps?!), or filters. My sensor – I’m terrified to clean that thing. So you’d think I wouldn’t do things like the lens change juggle anymore (or if that didn’t do it, you’d think dropping a lens DURING a wedding would… you’d be wrong).

    I’m always learning, and I’m no longer embarrassed to admit that.

  79. Pingback: DWF » Blog Archive » Are you a So-Called Pro?

  80. Thank you for writing this blog entry! You make me feel a whole lot better about being “just” a hobbyist of a photographer and make me want to do more.

    I too just want to make images!

  81. “I just want to make images, man.” FTW!! 🙂

    Doesn’t “PRO” only mean that you make a living from photography?

    Vision vision vision, who cares if it’s a little blurry or noisy if it tells a story or captures something interesting, beautiful…

    Don’t let them get to your core DD! They don’t know the half of it!

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  83. I can relate to pretty much everything you’ve said…

    I often find myself creating the same image over again, to my watchers each image is completely different, but I’m following the same recepie and not pushing my boundaries like I did when I was studying…

    When I’m shooting street, I sometimes whip my camera out to take a shot then afterwards realise the ISO was on 1600 and it’s a brighter than hell day…

    The first thing I do when I get a new lens is chuck the lens cap in a drawer and whack a UV filter on it… The UV filter on my main lens has a massive chip in it, people always point it out to me, but it’s never been noticeable on any of the shots…

    I always put myself below that of my peers in respect to the quality of my work, but when I look back a lot of the time (no disrespect to my peers) I have created work that stands out above theirs, (And obviously they have created work that stands way above mine)

    I find I am way to modest about my work, people tell me I’ve created something amazing, but the majority of the time I think only of the mistakes and put myself down too much…

  84. Fabulous! Thank you David. I had been sulking for the last few days over a missed image due to my carelessness. Now I feel much better – time to move on and seek another opportunity instead.

  85. How do you say Bokeh anyway? I used to think it was a dictionary revision of bouquet.

  86. Myself and 2 others were the only Canon shooters at the Joe McNally workshop I recently went to. I think he said something along the lines of Syl Arena being the only person in history who knows how to set a Canon flash. 🙂

  87. Thanks so much for being so honest. I myself was ashamed sometimes of calling myself merely a photographer, being an amateur. The thing only confuses you, better to forget about all adjectives and concentrate on enjoying at whatever step of the learning curve you are!

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  89. I am only an amateur but I do all the things that you listed. Am I a pro now? 🙂

    Good read to keep the feet on the ground and focus on what you’re supposed to focus.

  90. I’m never getting projects done, cause it has to be perfect.. And I never advertise for my self to get jobs, cause I don’t feel I have what it takes to get good enough results, yet I do see others doing it and putting out stuff I don’t think is very good at all. How do they have the conscience to take money for that?

    Anywho, good article 🙂 A different perspective is good ones in a while, for photographs and photographers alike!

  91. Thanks for the fantastic post. Reading through it I couldn’t help but laugh. You are so right when you say we have to knock the word ‘professional’ of the pedestal and re-instill the notion that a photographer is a photographer, pro or not. It doesn’t take fancy equipment and years of learning for someone to whip out a camera and shoot a $1000 picture, only a sense of what a picture should be and what they want to show. Keep up the good work.

  92. David,

    I want to thank you for this post, and for every other one you have written… I have to say… you are my creative habit… i start my day reading your words and I am able to face the excitement and challenges of being a photographer with more wisdom, renewed energy and lasting inspiration… what you have given the community is so invaluable… and I am so thankful that you continue to do so. This confession is so right on the dot — because I am in so many ways the same. It’s reassuring to know that despite these traits.. that I’m perhaps going the right path? and I am not stuck on my current abilities and aspire to always be better… but in the mean time… i can happily say that i’m an inspired photographer, ready to take on so much creative challenge.

    I’m a Vancouver local and hope that one day you will have a workshop for us locals… or if you ever find the time to mentor… i would love to be considered.

    Thank you so much!

  93. I owned a tripod once, it was broken at the neck, and I’d bought it at a yard sale for $1.00. I find that tripods (though useful when its windy, or I’m shivering and I can’t hold still), allow too much of a false feeling to a photo. I’d rather prop my camera on the fence post with the strap tucked under the front so it angles just slightly, or hang it from a tree branch with the strap wrapped around a twig to level it out in the air! Unless the photographer always props their tripod at eye-height, I can tell when there’s a tripod being used in the photo shoot about 90% of the time.

  94. You’ve obviously struck a chord 🙂
    Thanks for opening a window and letting some fresh air in.

  95. This hobbyist will no longer berate himself for not buying a tripod. It’s enough of a pain to hike with the SLR strung across my shoulder. I can’t imagine ever bringing a tripod with me. A monopod, maybe, in my dreams, of course.

    Thank you!

  96. Great post! LOL I feel that so many people get wrapped up in “appearing” to be professional rather than just doing their craft for the love and passion of it. If you can not admit the fact you make mistakes, then you are misleading. Me personally I have more respect for those who can say, “I messed up…”, rather than trying to tell me they didn’t and give an elaborate speech around the matter. People forget too often that is okay to mess up, then fix it, LOL. That’s the beauty of life.

  97. Almost didn’t comment because of how many comments there are! Like everyone else has said, I REALLY related to this post. Thanks, David.

    Oh, and sorry I’ve asked you about calibrating and monitor colors a time or two! :o)

  98. Being in awe of you and what you do, it is great to hear you are human.

  99. i’ve learned so much about that over the weekend. funny how much one can learn in a couple of days. i was shooting for my first company here in vancouver, at a fashion show. and have met two ‘working’ photographers i should say. and it was pretty much what i’ve read here. makes me wonder what would be instore for me down the road in the future if you know what i mean.

  100. You’re supposed to clean the sensor?

    And I too shot far too many photos at an event forgetting that I had changed the white balance the previous time I shot. 309 blue tinted photos anyone? Three cheers for Photoshop. And a couple glasses of wine.

    Thank you for your post, it is one I will save to remind me that no matter what kind of photographer we consider oursleves to be, we are all human.

  101. This confession sounds suspiciously familiar. I’m a professional writer, meaning I write stuff and people pay me for it. I have my own confessions of neglect and expedience. I’ve always felt this way. Thanks for an insightful article.

  102. This artivcal is fantastic and honest. I’ve taken a few photography classes and while I’ve always had what I deemed nice shots to show to my instructors, they seem to lord over us students because they know all the tech talk. I don’t remember to check my iso, I don’t even think I know how to set my apeture, but to me, it doesn’t matter. I am hidiously guilty of all the ‘crimes’ you’ve stated, and I’m kinda proud of it. It’s my love for it that counts to me in the end.

  103. THANK YOU!! Felt like I was the only one out there with those same habits. Getting lost in what you’re shooting is far more satisfying than getting bogged down w/ all the technical stuff. Awesome article!

  104. You’ve just defined the way I always feel. I’ve been taking photos and selling them for three years now with moderate success (to me) but I have learned by doing and reading, from how to control exposure to using F-stop and ISO and I get so caught up in the moment of capturing a wonderful shot that all I know goes out the window. It’s a heartening feeling to know that even those I would consider far above me in skill can’t always get it right the first time every time and that they too get overwhelmed sometimes to dot their I’s and cross their T’s. This really makes me feel much better about myself and my skill level. Well written and well said.

  105. Thought it wouldn’t hurt to know that one more person loved this post enough to take the time to put it in writing. 🙂

  106. Well after reading those wonderful words I guess I am WELL on the way to being a PRO! lol
    So many of those ‘errors’ come very naturally to me! it’s a wonder my gear is still intact and an even bigger wonder that I ever get a decent image! Thanks for the ego boost 😀

  107. Nice! It really is all about capturing the “feel” of a scene/moment and enjoying what you are doing. I don’t hesitate going as high as ISO 2500 with my 50D and I also avoid using the “b***h” word as much as I can. I prefer substituting that with “blur from shallow depth of field” even if it means I have to type out more words!

  108. Oh thank you for writing this today. Last night I downloaded the free chapter from Within the Frame and practically had to call for the smelling salts. “Well that’s it for me,” I thought. “I might just as well forget this photography hobby of mine, because I’ll NEVER, EVER be able to do all this stuff or carry all this stuff or remember all this stuff.” But today I read this and I laugh and think maybe there is hope after all that I can just do what I want and enjoy it.

  109. Great stuff – my favourite one is grabbing the camera to discover the CF card is still next to my computer. Or forgetting that the exposure compensation is still set from the night shoot the night before. I have to try very hard not to trip myself up more than I do. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  110. David, this is the best post I have read in a long time. I too am guilty of most of the things you listed, but that’s fine by me. It is experiencing our amazing world and capturing its wonder that matters most to me. Thanks, Wenata.

  111. Fan-freaking-tastic! I’ve done the ISO too high oh crap dance several times myself. I have no idea how to do a channel adjustment and even though it’s been explained several times, I really just don’t care, I routinely lose/misplace my memory cards cuz they’ve been jammed in various jeans pockets, and my lens caps aren’t usually on my lenses either…how am I supposed to take a picture if they are!? I finally got over the half a juiced battery by setting up a charging station right in my camera bag so I just have to plug in my bag when I get home…. Anyone who can’t claim several photographic sins is just fooling themselves. 🙂

  112. Umm – we’re not supposed to hold the camera between our knees to change the lense? Glad I’m not the only one who is guilty of doing this – it’s often hard, especially when outside, to find a convenient, dustfree place to do otherwise! BTW – almost had my camera stolen while in Ha Noi, VN because the camera was between my knees while changing the dead battery! Cheers David – thanks for a wonderful, truthful post!

  113. Wow, I just exhaled – after holding my breath for the last 15 years! Its nice to know we all share the same foibles and these human traits are universal no matter what skill level. Thanks for the honest dialogue!

  114. I just feel so much better now. Nice to see I’m not alone. Monitor calibration, sensor cleaning, the list is long….

  115. Quite the list of sound off’s! Well for all the feel good it does me…
    I would rather shoot than post process, and use 2x the memory because of it. If it looks good on my monitor that’s good for me.

    Fer cryin out lout- it’s about emotion not curves/megapixels/aperture or iso. Love the hi iso by the way. It’s like crack.

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  117. Wow, did you ever just make me feel better. So many of the things you raised I certainly am “guilty” of as well.

    confession is an amazing thing and you certainly helped me both professionally and personally with this post. Thank you.

  118. Thank you David for this timely post.
    This ‘amateur’ returned home tonight to an ear bashing comment on my blog from a ‘professional’ because I shot a concert for free and undermined the whole photographic industry and caused starvation for hundreds of pros.
    In amongst my reply, I used the phrase ‘the line between amateur and professional is blurring’…I’m sure that is one of your lines 😉
    I’ve been told to ‘act like a professional’
    Now I’m going to have to find out what a lens cap is :/

  119. I love this!! I’ve decided to go active with a photography business, so to non-photographers I call myself a professional while to photographers I say “I’ve decided to try to make money at this!” It’s totally simplified the conversations that ensue. hahaha

  120. Great post. All this anal attention to the “rules” really takes the fun out of it. So hard to be creative when your actions are dictated.

  121. Recently, in a shoot with a model in Barbados, I was working quickly to get as much time in the quickly setting sun as possible. I had cracked off over 70 images, occasionally checking the histogram to ensure that everything was in the right range. I noticed sometime after that, that I had shoot all 70 images in sRGB JPG …. slapped my head (mentally) before resetting the camera to RAW. I told the model that I wasn’t keen on this set of images and wanted to do the whole series again … fortunately I had enough sun still to do that series and then another in a slightly different nearby location … but man did I feel dumb. How the settings got changed to sRGB I still don’t know.

    Next time I’ll check my settings twice and shoot once 🙂

  122. I’m anal. I know where my caps are, I always put them on when done, my filters have nice little bags and when I spend that much of my personal money on gear, I clean my own damn sensor. No cans of air here!
    Photography is a hobby, I can be good at it. It’s nice to know that even the “pros” screw up. You’d never know it…

  123. Thanks for posting this. I ticked nearly every one of your points, especially the one about throwing lenses into the bag with no covers. I don’t want to lose shots because I’m fiddling about with plastic caps.

    I would add that I use Bracketing modes a lot. I figure that at least one will be rightly exposed and can never calculate the right f-whatever.

  124. Great post by a professional-amateur photographer-writer, or is it the other way around? My most recent proof of incompetency: leaving white balance set to indoors artificial light for an entire outdoors shoot. Interesting colors. Who wants to look at all those camera controls and displays, anyway?

  125. SO refreshing, genuine, and honest. I learn so much from you David.

    I have three flashes and wireless triggers that I am clueless about.
    I have expensive lenses that I rarely take out of my bag.
    I loathe setting up my tripod.
    I suck at post processing.
    I am unhealthily aware of my technical shortcomings.
    I still can’t remember which way to spin the dial to close down or open up.
    I suck at focusing on the eyes.
    I make maybe one or two images a year I am truly proud of.

    I keep shooting because…
    Clicking the shutter feels good.
    I want to remember my family and my life.
    Every day I care less about good I am compared to someone else.
    The out of focus, fully automatic, point and shoot picture I took of my 3 day old son still makes me happy 1,572 days later…and counting.

  126. Great article! A refreshing reminder that none of us are “perfect,” even those who may be considered “pro’s”

    I, too, have noticed myself shooting with high ISO’s more often than I should. More often now that I use a Nikon D300S where it’s so easy to change the ISO, I often forget I did. That, in contrast to my previous D40 where I had to press half a dozen buttons in the menu to do so, it was a little easier to remember to change back.

    As far as shooting wide open too often, I feel the opposite. As a scapes photographer, I probably close the aperture more than I need to. In recent months, I have tried hard not to stop down past f/16 to avoid diffraction, but somehow I always seem to slip down to f/22 when I feel I could use the longer stop in shutter speed.

    While I have only been shooting for a couple years, I have definitely seen an improvement in my work, yet at the same time realize I have a very long way to go. For me, photography is an ever-lasting learning experience. However, I feel that getting caught up the moment is often more of a reward than actually getting some good shots at the end of the day. I love nature and everything it has to offer, so even when I come home with nothing but scraps, I’m more than happy to do it all over again.

    Thanks for sharing your confessions. I bookmarked this page for later reference.

  127. If i didn’t htink it was too pompous a word, I’d call this post “empowering”.

  128. I wonder how many “serious” Pro’s out there would even be humble enough to agree with everything you’ve stated here. I sure do. I’ve experienced every item you have described and the funny thing is I’ll probably repeat these in years to come. After all I’ only “human”.

    Thanks for this article Dave!

  129. Amen to the sensor cleaning/filter/lens cap abuse! I believe that camera equipment is made to be used. I don’t think that you should intentionally destory your gear but come on now, if you’re moving and following the moment there is gonna be the time you look down into your bag and to great discomfort see a lens fron laing against a tripod mount.

    My confession is…. (although I really don’t see it as being so bad) what’s wrong with a little saturation? Is +10-15 really such a crime. Am i supposed to leave my colors dull because that’s how the camera recorded a moment but at the time my eyes viewed a much more powerful and colorful event!

    Thanks David, I think these are the posts that allow us all to breathe a little sigh of relief.


  130. It is the second time I read this, and I still enjoyed it as much the second time. I totally agree with the post and the underlying philosophy.
    My confession is that I actually love high ISO…: Better have a photo in a golden creamy high ISO capturing a beautiful moment than no photo at all.

  131. hahaha… what an awesome way to start a Monday. I do pretty much every single thing on your confession list. I especially identify with the tripod – 1/30?? I can so totally do that! (but not really). why am I always shocked when i get the photos up on the screen and they’re blurry?

    I am constantly being teased by friends for trying to take photos with the lens cap on and I have end caps in my bag and no idea what they belong to.

    Flashes confuse me so I “shoot natural light” photos. heh.

    Awesome post.

  132. David, you are my hero :-). I just love your photos and the way you take them.

  133. Wonderful! I’m “guilty” of nearly everything you listed. I can now consider it a badge of honor. I’ve often wondered what I look like changing lenses while standing in the middle of a stream — nice to know we’re all in the same boat. And seriously, your writing is as good as your photography. I’m dripping with envy.

  134. Thank you first for the venue to confess … for I too am guilty …

    I would put on my lens cap, if I knew where I tossed it in the moment of reckless abandon created by the shot that had to be taken “right then.” I have ignored the little inkling that whispered ever so softly .. take the camera today … I (God) have something great in store for you … only to weep at missing the most amazing sunrise birthed through thick, rolling fog. I thought for a while that it was all about my eye … but have realized lately that it is all about His creation … and that I am simply a humble recorder of His creativity. I shoot on instinct, but could not tell you why I do what I do if I tried. I dream of going abroad to capture the depths of people’s stories in the split second it takes to press and release the shutter of my camera … but take solace that there are miraculous opportunities to capture “the essence of life” wherever you are.

  135. Wow, how insightful, how wonderful to read what your thoughts are so candidly. Like others, this really made me feel better about being a VERY green newbie amateur aspiring pro.

    Seriously wonderful post. Thank you.

  136. SOOO……

    You’re the reason why I get all the color management questions….

  137. Loved this post David! This in particular has put a little spring in my step: “I’ve only been shooting for 20 years so I’m still new at this, easily distracted, still in love with images more than gear (and man, do I love my gear!)”.

    Thanks for the mention too 🙂 Your openess to bare your photographic soul is surpassed not only by your generosity to this community but also to individuals like me who are more than a few years behind and realizing that it’s ok to just call ourselves a “photographer”.

  138. This is so true. Nobody is perfect and when we try to be we more than likely forget the heart of the image to get the tech perfect. My confession:
    My Wife and I shoot together and I always ride her about her always cranking up the ISO unnecessarily. Inevitably the other day I shot a wedding where half of my photos were blurry because of my low ISO and 1/30 speed.

  139. Wonderful post – really made me smile reading it. So easy to get caught up in all the technical stuff – should I be doing this, what if I change this, and so on – can almost get anxious to just darn shoot! Great post.

  140. Great words for a Monday morning as us “non pros” go off to our steady work-a-day jobs that have regular cheques as we aspire to shooting all day.

  141. I took Kelby’s advice a long time ago. Leave the cap off! It helped tremendously. Yes, I sometimes forget to put it back on before putting the camera back in it’s home.

  142. This is awesome…being pretty much a complete nOoB to all of this, I’m pretty certain this post just saved me years of warped thinking and the need to say “Bless me, David, for I have sinned (too)…”

    Great stuff and thanks for sharing!!

  143. This is definitely a post about being a HUMAN who gets caught up in crafting an image. I am glad I am not the only one, and judging from the comments there are quite a few others, who probably feel that much better about being closer to “professional” (I also don’t like that word). I would rather use “master.” You are definitely a master of your craft and it shows through your willingness to open up and share. Thank you.

  144. Pingback: A few Monday thoughts « Central Illinois Photoblog

  145. David…Your words really inspire me…The reason I read your blog and following you on FB, is the fact your not one of those “PRO’s” that think their better than everyone else…Thank You!

  146. We can’t all remember everything; every time.

    “a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept. Then it’s just total crap.” – That was just funny.

    Thanks, Tom

  147. Pingback: Confessions of a So-Called PRO - PhotoCamel - Your Friendly Photo Forum

  148. I have finally got to the point that I can call myself a photographer. My primary income source is from programming, but now when asked I say, “Photographer, and I do some computer consulting as well.” If someone asks if I am a photographer I just say yes and hand them a card. If someone asks if I am a computer programmer I say, to pay the bills, and hand them my photography business card.

    I have never thought of myself as a professional programmer, and never consider the scores of people that code for no pay to be amateurs. They are coders. And I am a photographer. There I said it. It must be true 🙂

  149. Holy cow, fantastic stuff, man. I could echo a lot of what you’ve written, but here are a few of my own:

    As a wedding photographer …

    – I will, much too often, leave the dark interior of a church and walk into a brightly lit room (or outside) and leave my ISO much higher (3200ish) than it needs to be, and only notice much later.

    – I wish I could shoot JPEG but I’m too careless/inefficient/unpolished to nail my exposures that perfectly, so I shoot RAW to leave myself latitude for some error.

    – I leave my D3 in auto WB – it seems like a “pro” would challenge themselves to be better, but Lightroom just makes it too easy to forget about it and correct later.

    – I too hate the word “bokeh” LOL

    I try to shoot in such a way that I can best focus on capturing the image – esp with weddings, there are no re-dos, missed moments are gone forever and I have probably missed more than I capture – so it’s really comforting to know that I am not alone!

  150. Great post Dave! Always nice to feel a little less humble when compared to the “professionals” 😉

  151. pfffft, i think I love you. 😀

    I surely have too many sins to confess, but as a creative atheist I’m ok with that…what a great read David.

  152. I don’t have photoshop in my computer, and I don’t think I will ever have it. And as much as I use my digital camera, I have a secret love affair with a film one :o)

    Wonderful entry!!

  153. I’m not a photographer, pro or amateur, but I loved your thoughts on amateur. The words comes from “amotor” lover. It is someone who does something for the love of it, not the money.

  154. I have a Chinese Tattoo and I don’t know what it means… wait… photographic confessions…

    I throw memory cards around like they are indestructible, My lenses go days without seeing their good friend, Mr. Lens C. Ap, I currently have no clue what the charge is on my batteries, I leave my camera on for days without knowing it, I once selective colored something, I’ve done entire shoots and not realized that “M” was switched on the lens.

    The only think I was joking about here is the Chinese Tat… or was I.


  155. David, you are always a breath of fresh air! Thank you, thank you, thank you. (although I do confess to being fairly obsessive about lens caps and switching lenses, but that’s just my personality type) 🙂

  156. Wow. Ditto on the ISO, flash, tripod and EV compensation for sure. That’s a big encouragement.

    My confession: When people ask me to pose and shoot a portrait containing more than 2 people, I kind of want to go hide under the bed. I prefer to be a fly on the wall anyway, but enough senior and engagement shoots have gotten me fairly comfortable with arranging ones and twos.

    But this wedding coming up? I’m freaking out a little about not only arranging that many people, but also adding one off-camera Speedlite (with umbrella? Help!) for the formals since there’s no window light in the sanctuary and they probably don’t want me to shoot at 6400 ISO. Should be easy, but flash scares me.

    Whew! Thanks for listening!

  157. How pleasant to read a piece by someone whose images blow me away, and yet retains enough humility to show his flaws. I am guilty of several of the same “errors” – especially carrying a tripod but not using it (just gets in the way when you get “in the flow”), and I am embarrassed by the times I find I have forgotten about the exposure compensation I used last time. Phew! Now I feel better!

  158. Here Bokeh, here Bokeh. Ahhh – that’s a good Bokeh, good boy. Thanks for playing nice.

    Bad Bokeh! Down, stay down! Don’t jump up on those nice images there. Oh, I’m so sorry – my Bokeh isn’t normally this bad.

  159. Word.

    I can’t believe you throw lenses into your bag without end caps, or leave the covers off. I baby my lenses as much as possible with no apologies.

    And I vividly remember the time I was changing a lens on my new 5D and a fly flew inside the sensor box. I thought, “Aaaack!”

  160. Thank you, David. This just proves, to me, that the most talented are also the most humble and generously share their own “shortcomings” to encourage others. You have a big heart and a small ego and I like it. 🙂

  161. Me too! Me too! I lose lens caps every time I go out, so why bother with them. I shoot without lens hoods or filters more than I care to admit. I rarely clean my sensor. I change lenses in the worst conditions. I’ve lost a few should-have-been incredible photos because of EV or ISO or some other setting I should have checked.

    But my big confession is RAW post-processing. I shoot RAW because professionals are “supposed to”. But I really haven’t learned to properly process them so I process them just like I process jpg’s. So really it’s no different than shooting jpg since I’m not processing right. :::: sigh ::::: I *should* learn how. I’m planning to learn how. But for the moment I keep trying to shoot it right the first time so I don’t need much post-processing hoping this inadequacy won’t affect my ability to earn a living. I’m actually considering using shoot dot edit until I learn. I feel like such a fraud!

    It’s nice to know that even the big well paid pros have some little secret.

  162. Thanks David for voicing what so many of us do and feel. Your confession made me laugh so much, because so much of what you say applies! It’s so utterly validating! Its a great encouragement.

  163. I know two “professional” photographers well…one a portrait photographer and one the photo editor for a major newspaper. Both suffer from “pro” syndrome, but the portrait photographer takes the cake. How? Showing disdain for the photojournalist style of portraiture that, I admit, I love. Show me a photo “about” a person or a wedding, not a photo “of” the same. (Do I get some kudos here for making references to “Within the Frame”? Loved it!)

    Don’t get me wrong, his technique is excellent, providing some beautiful portraits “of” people. But that’s all they are. I don’t know anything about the folks in the photos. Oh, and the open disdain for the “amateur with their new digital SLR” is quite annoying.

  164. Dude! My thumb hits the dial and changes it from Aperture Priority to Shutter Priority, either that or I forget to switch it… still a mystery to me.

    2 weeks ago, I saw a boy with an umbrella in the rain wiping clean the windows on an old beater car in his front yard. Excited for an image with such irony, I quickly zoomed my 70-200 to about 180mm and snapped 5 ‘life-changing’ shots. As I walked away, I noticed my dial was on Tv. doh!

    I had shot them at 1/15th, the setting I had been using previously for motion shots of people walking w-a different lens. They looked horrible. But I still got the rush in making the image of an ironic moment.

  165. Hi, my name is Gerry and I am an amateur photographer. (Everybody together) Hi Gerry!!

    Fan-bloody-tastic post!! Absolutely love the honesty and humor in this one.

    Thanks for keeping it real David!!

  166. wonderful. glad to know you’re like the rest of us. I once did a full day shoot at 3200 ISO in a studio environment. Couldn’t for the life of me work out why my strobes were so powerful.


  167. David,

    You’re blog has become the “Chicken Soup for Photographers Soul.”

    Warm Regards,

  168. David,
    The comedian inside of you got exposed!
    This is not a call to be mediocre but an encouraging call to keep growing.

  169. This and the other post are two of the best things i have EVER read in regards to photography.
    I thoroughly enjoy getting out there and taking photos with my bridge camera (An Olympus SP570-UZ). I have been out shooting with other photographers in the past who use gear worth so much more than what my camera cost me, but at the end of the day- it’s not always them who ends up with the “better” shots.
    It’s not what you have, it’s how you use it. I have seen some great photos taken with home=made pinhole cameras as well as some darn good shots taken with the newest most expensive there is.
    Also, sometimes the mistakes we make can turn out to be some of the best photos we may take for a long time.

    Thank you very much for helping me realise that me not making a living off my photography does not make me any less a photographer than the next person.

  170. Perhaps this is already on the very top end cameras …but a big feature request on my camera is for a “nuclear option” button – a button that when pressed, all my camera settings return to a default preset that I’ve created.

    No more discovering in the rush of the moment (after it’s too late) that I forgot to change back the 1600 ISO, Raw/jpg, etc. settings from the shoot before.

  171. Fun post. We all make mistakes. We can all enjoy them, if we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I take my work seriously, not myself. I love the work I do … that’s serious … even if how I do it is often laughable.

    btw, I do know how to set up and work with color management, if you ever need a hand at that. 😉

  172. Excellent post. Thank you for sharing this. As a self-proclaimed “amateur photographer” this is a very encouraging read. There’s so much I don’t know, although I’m able to pull off some good pictures at times. At other times, they’re just lame. My biggest faux pas? Setting the white balance for tungsten and leaving it there, only to shoot blue pictures outdoors the next day. I’ve done this so many times now it’s almost comical.

    Off to read the other post you reference, since I seem to fall into that category. 🙂

  173. I don’t even know what to say….but, I am still blubbering like a child over this post. Trying to tap out an articulate response through the droplets oozing from my sockets is proving difficult. But, I am compelled to respond because the feeling of validation is so overwhelming. Every day I doubt myself because I feel unworthy of being considered a “professional” because I’m constantly bombarded with being dictated to that to be a pro I need to have $20k in invested in the best camera an computer gear and charging metric crap tons of money and never take out my gear unless I’m getting paid. Many times I feel like I have to lurk in the shadows like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for fear of being tarred and feathered for just wanting to make pictures! Ans to confess…I hate, despise Photoshop or most image manipulation software and have avoided being forced to become an automaton of the marketing or drinking the kool-aid per se. But, I caved and feel I’ve lost a bit more of my sole and passion every time I have to sit at a computer to learn aoftware when all my heart wants to do is go out and make pictures. I rarely care about what happens after the picture is made. I just want to print them or put them on Facebook…o just want to share them…..THAT’S what I’m passionate about! And that’s the truth I am going to work at perpetuating. That’s the voice I want to listen to and I am so glad to have someone like you remind me that it’s okay to that and to be driven by my vision and my passion and NOT keeping up with the “Jonses”. Thank you!

  174. You are on fire lately! Great post again and so true.
    My confession, I like to troubleshoot in the moment! I know that I should plan my settings before, but that would make my interaction with people robotic and not humanize! I like it when I forgot those settings from last evening on. Then my morning shots looks like Angels on my blown out screen!!! Then, I could use “I’m in the present of an Angel!” “Look at this!” Then I get the real smiles and the real moments. Or, I get the “Dark Force his strong with him!”

    From your previous post, I wish that I would have enough passion to make this my full time job. Confession again, enough business knowledge to start it!

    Question, hope you have time to answer. You mention Mpix and I always wondered how are they with Canadian orders? I’m in Alberta!


  175. First of all, this was an awesome post. I laughed outloud a couple times, chuckled a few more and held my head in shame upon realizing that I’ve done several of these myself.

    Here are my confessions:

    I so hate to clean my sensor that I don’t. I send it off twice a year & let someone else do it. The last time I tried to do it myself I scratched the sensor.

    I have absolutely no idea how to properly sharpen for printing.

    Flash photography is a complete mystery to me. It’s voodoo magic.

    I have a hard time getting out of bed for sunrise. I enjoy it when I do, but I’m usually too lazy and so comfy that I just turn off the alarm, roll over & go back to sleep.

    All for now. Great post, and I hope lots of people read it. Thanks for the chuckle.

  176. Yes dude, another transparent photographer out there! Love it!! We need more guys like you out there to balance out us out!

  177. David, Thanks for this confession. I can really relate! I have seen many friends get so lost in the technical that they lose sight of the image.
    How many times have I not looked at the AF/MF switch on the lens, shutter speed or ISO. I’m sure that I will do it again, but won’t kick myself as much knowing that I am not alone.
    Thanks for your insight and inspariation.

  178. thanks for this enlightening and inspiring confession, David. I’ll remember this when some “professional” is mouthing off about how great he/she is.

    My own confession, I’m too comfy with “safe images”. I typically forget to take chances with different angles and compositions. I think I need to take more risks to find out what images reflect my own vision as well.

    the point that i’m taking away from this is to focus on creating images that inspire you and others.

  179. Dude-you are so good at speaking to my soul. I imagine that’s true for many others. Ohh, you also take some pictures? Wow, how cool… :D. Keep writing like you do David. Much obliged.

  180. very nice list… I’ve identified with almost all of those… many multiple times, and some on purpose.

  181. I love it. I am currently pushing myself to go further into the “business” of photography. I have a confession as well.

    I’ve lost a solid 20 minutes and 50 or so shots to the ether. At least three times. I never leave the “Shoot without card” option checked anymore.

  182. Amen to the whole bokeh crap.

    I was amused reading comments on another popular site where 3 people were going at it referring to the collective bokehes (?) of Nikon, Canon, and Zeiss 85 1.4’s. They were actually comparing the perceived esthetics at 1.4, 1.8, 2, 2.8 and so on.

    Jeeez. I usually just say “blur the background!

    In the studio I shoot f11 & f16 a la Marc Hauser, outside, I’d rather shoot wide open to blur or compress when I can.

  183. Great post! I think us relative newbies who aspire to the “professional” level get scared because all we see are the best of your work when in reality I’m sure if we saw all the raw photos straight out of camera we would be surprised to see how much they look like the majority of photos we take. It just proves once again that in the end it is all about your vision and what you do with it rather then your equipment or fancy lighting skill.

  184. Awesome piece David. Couldn’t agree more.

    I also hate tripods and am completely with you on 1/30 confidence (however ill inspired)

    I have a bunch of medium format gear that I can’t figure out how to load (and haven’t tried very hard)

    I never use exposure compensation. Well, maybe once or twice. I’m better at photoshop than I am with compensation.

    I am terrible at keeping batteries charged. I started shooting natural light only. I now have enough strobes to do whatever I want and I hardly use them because the batteries are never charged.

    Keep up the good work, love reading your posts!

  185. Really good things to keep in mind, David. All knowledge ends up being ‘context specific’, eh?

    Being a musician I think of it in musical terms, too. I can read drumset notation but know that digging a groove is always the most importnat thing to guide my over all playing. Some grooves are big, fat and simple… some latin grooves can be very fast and complex or intricate. And some experimental types of music can appear to be non-groove oriented. But ultimately they all move the human heart in their respective contexts.

    I think of great pictures like great music: they make people want to dance… and people can vary in their dance skills… but in no way should that detract from the pleasure they get from participating in something bigger than themselves. Colour, tone, composition, and selective blurring in photos all allow the mind to dance about.

    Many of us enjoy ‘dancing’ to your pics and to your ideas, David.

  186. Um, the word histogram still creates question marks in my head….and my images are just fine.

    Such an awesome piece, thank you for writing this.

  187. I’ve only been a ‘photographer’ for one year. I make a little money at it but the real reason I do it is for all the little ‘ah-haa’ moments. So much of what you say resonates with my own experience. It’s the moment, the glance, the flicker of hope I can sometimes capture that makes me want to go on. The image inspires me, not the ISO or the f stop settings.

  188. Great post! I earn my wages from photography, do I consider myself a pro, not really. I always feel I have so much to learn (just 10 minutes ago your Within the Frame and Chris Orwig’s Visual Poetry arrived at my door) I am always reading someones blog or watching a tutorial to try and improve what I do and get better at this craft. I am out shooting when ever I can be it for work or play. I don’t think we ever stop learning and I don’t want to, I love it and as well as my job photography is also my greatest hobby. I too regularly shoot wide open, probably too wide and also very often at high ISOs but what the hell… Someone said once (could have been Joe McNally) that you should always remember to zero your camera before every shoot to ensure you are in the correct setting, aperture, WB, ISO etc – now I just need something to remind me to do that!!

  189. Well now I don’t feel so bad about my lack of formal training, or that I am shooting with ‘digital dinosaurs’, or that when I ‘get it right’, it’s still a wonderful RUSH…! Actually, I don’t REALLY feel bad about those things, It’s what the hell you do with what the hell you’ve got! Equipment, ISO, lenses….all icing.

  190. David, this post is so full of win, I feel like a complete loser. Well said, brother. Well said.

  191. I loved this post! It made me laugh because I can relate on SO many levels… not the least of which a very dusty sensor from slinging my camera around without a lens – because where were they? Under both arms and between my knees:) I haven’t seen an end cap in so long, I forget what they look like. And, unlike you, I am afraid to clean my own sensor, so I just shoot with a dirty one. Also, I’ve owned a tripod for 10 years and have used it once (I find squatting low with elbows perched on knees especially effective). Oh – and I took what I thought were awesome lion photos on my second last day in Kenya recently, but because of my EV setting, all of the photos are unsalvageable. Lastly, thanks to Wikipedia, I now know what “bokeh” means.

    You are so right; regardless of our level of expertise, there will always be someone who knows more technically, always someone who sees things more creatively, and always someone with more and better gear. Just because a person is lucky enough to get paid for taking pictures, it doesn’t make him the top of the food chain in knowledge or creativity.

  192. A wonderfully witty, honest and well written post! Thanks for the honesty and for making me feel better about all my own (very similar) mistakes.

  193. I love reading your blog and rarely comment but this whole article just made me smile.

    my confession. I have people say they love my work yet I say well its ok not great I should have done this or that. I judge my work on what I see of others and I don’t think it is that good but I guess it is getting better and really that;s the whole point of the hobby.

  194. I make money at photography and I lose money at it, I still make every mistake you mentioned and in most cases for the same reasons, to lost in what I am seeing and trying to say to think tech. But the moments that do come together make it all worthwhile

  195. Thank you, David. For confirming what I’ve suspected all along, for showing me that I’m not alone, and (most importantly) that I am on the right track after all.

  196. “My images don’t so much have bokeh as large sections of fuzzy bits.” Hahaha!

    I identified with…all of those.

  197. I only do photography as a hobby but my confession is I shot an entire outdoor wedding in bright sunlight at ISO 400. I forgot to double check. Thank god it was my cousin’s wedding and my Dad has wicked skills in Photoshop so no one noticed. Phew!

  198. This is fantastic. I’m guilty of a few of these as well. Here’s my confession for the night:

    *I’ve never calibrated my monitor. I don’t know how many lumens it gives off. Although i know what I need to do get it done, I probably won’t do it any time soon.

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