What’s in the frame of the photograph matters artistically, to be sure, but what’s outside the frame can destroy it. ~Philip Hyde
One of the most pervasive problems facing creative photographers, and especially those of us working with natural aesthetics, is that many assume we all do the same thing—spend our days in pursuit of anything photogenic, hoping to get lucky enough to “get the shot.”
Over the years I had to explain many times that my brand of photography is aimed at creative expression, rather than chasing after fortuitous phenomena. Also, I often have to explain that just because I’m a photographer, doesn’t mean I know, or care about, everything having to do with photography. I am not a commercial photographer or a stock photographer; I know little about photographing people or products or events; and I do not pursue “decisive moments” on city streets. With few exceptions, I have little interest in traveling to exotic places outside my home in the American West; and I am unable to offer much help with studio lighting, video, time lapse or other techniques I don’t use in my own work. Which is not to say I don’t enjoy such photography when done well by others.
These days, thankfully, most people interested in photography recognize that some of us specialize in particular styles and subject matter, and that there is more to being a photographer than having general expertise in operating photographic equipment or hopping from one “must see” place to another. Today, when I present myself to fellow photographers as an artist, or a fine-art photographer, most of them understand what my work is, and is not.
It is with great regret that on some recent occasions I felt the need to distinguish myself yet further from others who, like me, also work with natural subjects; and even from some who proclaim themselves to be artists. I am referring in particular to those photographers who consider “getting the shot” as their primary motivation, and who, in the course of their work, are willing to bend or break laws and regulations, disregard the sanctity of places and the dignity of people, shamelessly plagiarize the works of others for profit or bragging rights, operate commercially without required insurance or permits, lead clients to places where such guiding is prohibited, and compromise the experience of others. I am not that kind of photographer, either.
As I said in other times: if I need to compromise my experience, the experience of others, or the welfare of the places, life and things I photograph in order to “get the shot,” then to hell with the shot.