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Thursday, April 05, 2007

T.O.P. Ten Levels of Seriousness

You know you're a serious photographer if...

(in ascending order)

1. You own a really nice camera
2. You use your really nice camera
3. You sometimes, or often, shoot on assignment or commission for pay
4. You sometimes, or often, shoot in terms of projects
5. Your projects actually amount to something
6. You have a portfolio
7. You sell prints from your portfolio
8. You publish and exhibit your work
9. Other people publish and exhibit your work
10. Other people publish and exhibit your work—and you don't even own a really nice camera!



Blogger Frank B said...

Hey I'm up to 2 after 35 years!

9:56 AM  
Blogger Landon Whitsitt said...

What if you publish or exhibit other people's work as if it were your own? Surely that's worth some ranking, right?

tee hee

10:13 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"What if you publish or exhibit other people's work as if it were your own?"

That's on the list of levels of seriousness as a swindler.


10:17 AM  
Blogger chantal stone said...

I score 8 out of 10....not bad!

10:41 AM  
Blogger Steve Gilllette said...

Unlike the photography seminar circuit, unlike the enless portfolio review$, unlike the pay-to-play photo competions, these ten gems of wisdom are a gift from Mike. Free! And (if you wish), even in order...sort of a photo career road map. Personally, I am aiming straight at #10. (I have one of the three requirements nailed down already.)

11:11 AM  
Blogger falmanac said...

What's a "print?"

11:13 AM  
Blogger dasmb said...

How many points for being selected for Random Excellence?

I think you've made it as a photographer when people ask you to take their portrait, but you turn them down because they're too attractive.

12:07 PM  
Blogger david b said...

Guess I better sell the Hasselblad.

12:27 PM  
Blogger carpeicthus said...

Hm, I've had fairly high-profile gallery up that was just taken with an outdated camera and a kit lens. 10? 9.5?

12:43 PM  
Blogger Martin Storz said...

I am more than 25 years in "the business" - and I reach only score 4!

But I take comfort in earnig my living with it.

So score 10 must be something like the nirwana for a photographer?

1:01 PM  
Blogger lramoth said...

Thanks for validating my level of seriousness.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Albano Garcia said...

I guess I'm pretty serious (only missed point 7). Don't know if my D50 is cool or not (it is for me)

1:48 PM  
Blogger tom said...

Oh man I fail on all accounts.

1:57 PM  
Blogger david vatovec said...

I'm on 9 after 10 years!
Got to get rid of my cameras!

2:05 PM  
Blogger aizan said...

hrm, almost none of my favorite photographers make it to number 10. ;)

2:48 PM  
Blogger ShadZee said...

I guess I don't even qualify... zero... hmmm... I need to buy an M* to at least reach #1

4:30 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Well, I'm a happy owner of cheap cameras then. I can expect to get to 10, but if I don't I wont feel guilty about the sunk costs!

5:10 PM  
Blogger Awake said...

1. Yes (is a 5D a fancy camera?)
2. Yes
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. Yes
6. Yes
7. Yes
8. Yes
9. Yes
10. Yes (according to many, I should be using at least a 42 MegaPixel Back for any worthwhile photography.)

8:51 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

I hear David Hamilton uses a 40-year-old Minolta SRT-101 with a standard lens.
(Or "used", I guess he is retired now.)

11:35 PM  
Blogger erlik said...

Apropos David Hamilton, you're apparently a really serious photographer when people have to pay on a website to even see your photos.

1:28 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"you're apparently a really serious photographer when people have to pay on a website to even see your photos"

I thought that meant you're a purveyor of porn....(g)

(Or at least the prurient.)


2:40 AM  
Blogger Yanchik said...

Top stuff from Mike as always, and a good laugh at some of the comments too.

UK readers may remember the "I look down on him because of such-and-such, and I look up to him because of such-and-such." (Two Ronnies ?)

I had a print of mine hanging on the wall, and remember how thrilled I was when my tenant wanted to buy a copy of it. I own a Sony A100 (thereby bequeathing my X300 to my Dad, allowing him to trade up a little from his forty-years-continuous-use SRT 101...)

I am therefore a Frivolous Photographer, and look up to all of you.

Mike, I'd be grateful if you could outline the Ten Degrees of Frivolity for us...


3:37 AM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

Where does this one fit in: "You regularly offer unsolicited crticism of other people's photos on the web"? Maybe that one just makes some people feel like a serious photographer.

5:10 AM  
Blogger fotomannetje said...

Does 'getting the bills paid' count as amounting to something? I might just make to number 5.

Funny how this post ends up as a poll, BTW :) Seems that photographers are in dire need of some self-reassurement: 'I am a number nine, I am doing fine, really!'

5:53 AM  
Blogger Photo-essayist said...

I stumbled into 10 right out of the gate. I was shooting expired film from drugstores with a mid-1970's SLR, simply got lucky, and had a good 5-year run. I've since stepped down to about 5.

It's better working your way up because in the process you develop the professionalism, creative flow, and intense work ethic required. I had to hit the ground running and eventually ran out of steam. No regrets. I'll be content now if I can get to 7 and level off.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Loose Lens said...

What if other people publish and exhibit your work — and I did't ever shot a picture ?

Just kidding.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Westbrook said...

I think people are confused between "serious" and "successful". If you're a successful photographer, you're necessarily serious about it, but I admire the work of many photographers who don't bother with the commercial aspects of marketing/selling their work.

6:04 AM  
Blogger buckley said...

and if you use this

for sure

7:34 AM  

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