by Miserere


I bought a piano; nobody called me a pianist.

I climbed a mountain; nobody called me a mountaineer.

I caught a fish; nobody called me a fisherman.

I bought a car; nobody called me a racing pilot.

I started a blog; nobody called me a writer.

I calculated the tip at a restaurant; nobody called me a mathematician.

I made a sandwich; nobody called me a cook.

I cleaned a wound; nobody called me a doctor.

I bought a camera; and suddenly I’m a photographer.


19 Responses to “Epithets”

  1. I don’t know Miserere, I bought many cameras and lenses in my life and I still don’t consider myself a photographer in the true sense (as Professional at it). I’m in a permanent hobbyist stage and I am learning more now than when I was young and knew everything. When I make beaucoup bucks at it, maybe I will be a photographer.

  2. It completely depends on how you interpret those terms – do you tag them to the _professional_ level or merely the _activity_ level? It is often best to revert back to a dictionary to regain the definition of terms

    pianist = musician who plays a piano; not necessary one who _works_ by playing the piano

    mountaineer = one who climbs mountains; whether one gets paid for is another question

    fisherman = a person who fishes, whether for profit or pleasure

    car = driver or rider. if you use your vehicle to race, then you become a racer, regardless whether you race in a professional league or not

    writer = everybody is a writer, but not necessarily of the journalist or author scale. there is a difference

    mathematician = an expert or specialist in mathematics; this one pretty much speaks for itself. calculations in a restaurant dont require an expert.

    cleaning wounds = first aider. that is not someone _licensed_ to practice in medicine

    practising photography? you are a photographer. whether your photos can demand a sum at the end of the day is another question.

    • Icelava,

      I don’t agree with your final statement: Just because you take photographs does not make you a photographer. That was the idea behind my post: If you buy a piano, then you own a piano; owning it doesn’t make you a pianist. If you have a fishing pole and you happen to catch a fish, that still doesn’t make you a fisherman, it just makes you someone who’s caught a fish. Likewise, owning a camera does not make you a photographer; taking photographs doesn’t make you a photographer anymore than making sandwiches makes you a cook. The same for writing! Just because you know how to write does not mean you are a writer.

      And none of this has anything to do with being paid, by the way.

      Of course, this is my opinion and I share with all of you so you may tell me I’m wrong if you you think so 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to explain your opinion!

      • I definitely do not agree with your perception on those terms. I largely base my understanding on the dictionary definitions and tied most of those terms to the _activity_ level. You appear to want to tie them to the _professional_ level.

        I guess it stems from your perception of a conversation scenario?

        “what do you do for a living?”

        “i am a fisherman.”

        From that angle, certainly yes one cannot answer such unless s/he really works in the fishing business.

        However, from the angle of the observer, watching a casual football match happening at the neighbourhood field. It is absolutely ok to call them footballers because that is exactly what they are doing at the moment – playing football.

        I think context plays an important factor when or when not to apply a term.

        • Icelava wrote You appear to want to tie [those terms] to the _professional_ level.

          No! Not at all! Like I said in an earlier comment to you: And none of this has anything to do with being paid, by the way. From your example, I would not immediately call the players on the pitch “footballers”. They are playing football, yes, but they’re not necessarily footballers in my eyes.

          • Then the next level you are associating those terms with is the skill level. That still is quite unnecessary. Anybody can be a footballer or a cyclist or an inline skater. Now, whether they are good or expert in their activity or craft is _a_different_question_ 😉

            By disassociating profession or skill I do not struggle through any of the mental conflict this post is potraying.

            Again, context is key. What do i work as? What is my profession? i am a software developer, an IT consultant. If I were not, I would not answer so. Yet at the same time I do a lot of other things and I will also answer i am a World of Warcraft player, i am an inline skater, etc. Because those are the activities i do and close to my heart, what i practise regularly, spend much of my time on. These form what is my _personality_ , defines my _identity_, who I am. (watch the presentation http://identity20.com/media/OSCON2005/)

            Since i do not draw or play badminton often, I _would_not_ call myself a drawer or a badminton player then. But, at the point of time when i pick up the pencil and start sketching on paper, or accompany friends on a workout in the badminton court, I become that via virtue of activity at that moment. Whether I am good at it or choose to make it a regular hobby is another matter. If I discontinue the activity, then I essentially discontinue the title; because they are not close to my heart and I do not care.

            What do you call all those people walking around the golf course and smacking the ball with their clubs? If they are not called golfers i do not know what to call them. Now, are they _regular_ golfers? I do not know. Can they qualify for PGA tournament, I do not know.

            “Hey! This year’s D & D is asking for any musicians in the company to form a band and play during the party.”

            “Cool! I haven’t played in awhile. would love to pick up my rusting guitar before it really falls apart.”

            “Fantastic. Since Henry only knows electric guitar, Karen can you be the bassist?”

            “Fine by me.”

            “Lovely. Nicholas I know you play the keyboard better but you are the only drummer we know in the company. Have to make do with _me_ as keyboardist. We’ll play simple songs so you know how much i suck LOL”

            “So…. who’s gonna be our vocalist?”

            “Our CEO loves karaoke….”

            Now let me highlight once more my point of reference is the dictionary to tell me whether a term is tied to activity or occupation. Many terms may add “especially one who is professional, skilled, etc” but the keyword is “especially” and not “only”.

            Am i a photographer? yes i am. a _beginner_ photographer. If I am being coached by someone i could label myself a student photographer. There is nothing to suggest i am claiming expert level, or even to to claim I am “serious”. If I feel the need to boast then I’d probably describe myself a “damn good photographer who knows how to capture beautiful artistic photos”, because that would be entirely explicit and remove all doubts for everybody. Now at the same time, I know I am not a _casual_ photographer, which is probably the phrase you are looking for folks who own cameras just to capture moments without bothering what they are doing.

      • In addition, if you strictly reserve terms only for those who carry them out as a profession, then the typical habit is to prefix “amateur” or “hobbyist” so not to confuse others into believing one is actually working in that industry.

        I am a hobbyist photographer. I am a hobbyist inline skater. I am a hobbyist snowboarder. I am a hobbyist computer gamer. I am a hobbyist bike rider. I am a hobbyist drawer. I am a hobbyist wakeboarder. I am a hobbyist manga drawer.

        There, i listed some things i like to do, and differentiated myself from those who are truly professional at each activity and industry.

  3. You are so right about this. Having a tool does not equal a toolmaker or a craftman.

    Have a camera, will travel. A lot of people are no photographers.

  4. And once again yesterday I had that experience we all know so well. You take a photo and someone says “nice camera”. Nothing about the lens chosen; the ISO, aperture and shutter settings; the grouping of subjects; the framing and perspective; the use of light… just “nice camera”.

    A good conversation-starter here Mis, but it’s not just any camera that makes a photographer. Obviously it’s the fact one has an SLR that spells trouble!

  5. lol nice post Mis. Robin is right that only when you have a slr in your hands are you then “elevated” to “photographer” status, though there are plenty of talented people making great shots with a point and shoot…

  6. I beg to differ. As witnessed by In the Vernacular: Photography of the Everyday, anyone with a camera is a photographer. Frankly, we have an inflated image of ourselves.

    • Christopher, was every photograph in the book taken by a photographer…or were some just taken by a person with a camera…?

      I don’t think “we have an inflated image of ourselves” (and by “we”, you mean “me”, I presume :)); rather I think the world has a deflated view of certain artists.

  7. Owning a camera doesn’t make one a photographer but taking photographs does. I may be a bad and reluctant one but I am a cook.

    But I really don’t understand the point. What’s the significance of “photographer” as an identity–is there a photographer’s entrance to paradise?

  8. Yes, Davey, Me boy, there is! 🙂 You’re allowed to bring all your cameras, lenses with you – and there’s tripods waiting right beyond those pearley gates. 😀 By taking that special ‘photographers’ only’ door – you’ll be expected to take loads of pictures, and you’ll have plenty of time to keep up with post-processing. Thank goodness!

    Bet you’re excited about it now… almost makes you want to go?

    • That’s the best news I’ve heard all week, Rose! Now that I have an official, published photo credit I figure I can stop worrying about the afterlife (or is there a photographers entrance to…you know:, the *other* place as well? ;~)

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