• josutherstphotography

Positions and Practice – Re-thinking Photographers

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

“When people ask me what equipment I use – I tell them my eyes.”

— Anonymous

When photographing events and portraits, I have come across several groups of non-photographers. The first type always look at the images I have taken and then say ‘oh, you must have a good camera’. As if having a good camera is the only thing that is going to enable anyone to take the best pictures. They assume that the equipment will somehow turn a mediocre image into a masterpiece. It always makes me think of the quote by Peter Adams at these moments.

“Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gismos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”

– Peter Adams – Sydney 1978

Another type of non-photographers are those who believe that you are over-charging for jobs because ‘anyone could do that’. Everybody wants something for nothing, or as close to it as they can get. Unfortunately, in a society where anyone can market themselves as a photographer and then offer their services for a fraction of the costs I quote to clients, there will always be the occasion where I will be questioned over my ‘over-pricing’. What the client fails to realise is that in my prices there is an element of post-processing involved in all images. They don’t see the hours that go into that side of the work. Clients do not realise that the hobbyist photographer who happens to take a few wedding photographs, may not have the skills to capture the day as they wanted. They may have the gear, but no idea.

There are also the non-photographers who believe that they can screenshot your copyrighted images and share them all over social media. These people would never go into a shop and take whatever they wanted without paying, but feel that because you took a picture of them, then they have ‘rights’ to the image.

The final group I have come across is the non-photographer who wants to learn how to take photos. They believe that you know everything about photography and different cameras. They feel that by following your tips and advice that they will be able to do exactly what you do and get the same results. Whenever I train anyone, I first get them to look at a scene and explain what they see and what they want to see. I challenge them to explain the impact of the scene in front of them and to break down the elements in what they are looking at. I get them to note down the emotion they are feeling at that point. A key point of my training is getting non-photographers to understand that they need to make sure that they portray the same emotion in the photograph as they were feeling at the time the photograph was taken. Only once they understand this, can I go on to teach them how to take the photograph. After all, as Ansel Adams said

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

― Ansel Adams


Adams, A. From Ansel Adams Quotes (Author of The Camera) . 2016. Ansel Adams Quotes (Author of The Camera) . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/12115.Ansel_Adams. [Accessed 10 October 2016].

Adams, P. From Hakon Agustsson – hakon@PhotoQuotes.comhttp://www.PhotoQuotes.cominfo@PhotoQuotes.com. 2016. Photography Quotes by Peter Adams . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.photoquotes.com/showquotes.aspx?id=456. [Accessed 10 October 2016].

Anonymous From PetaPixel. 2016. 70 Inspirational Quotes for Photographers. [ONLINE] Available at: http://petapixel.com/2014/05/29/70-inspirational-quotes-photographers/. [Accessed 10 October 2016].


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