Tag Archives: Susan Sontag

On becoming a photographer

“Buying a Nikon and a roll of Kodachrome does not make you a pohtographer [snip]… Just like buying groceries does not make you a chef” (Al Weber)

I just have come across this little quote in the signature of a forum posting. Obviously, any practitioner of any discipline, especially those who have done so for quite some time, would like to think that a newcomer would be unable to work to the same standards.

However, in the medium of photography, nothing could be further off the truth, simply because of the element of chance. As a novice, it is by far more unlikely to cook a delicious meal that is on par with a trained and experienced chef. As opposed to the chances of taking a good quality photograph (or one in thirty six for that matter).

Photography is the only major art in which professional training and years of experience do not confer an insuperable advantage over the untrained and unexperienced – this for many reasons, among them the large role that chance (or luck) plays in the taking of pictures, and the bias toward the spontaneous, the rough, the imperfect.

Susan Sontag in Regarding the Pain of Others

Accepting this truth will have at least two major benefits: first, you are one step closer in taking yourself less seriously and as a consequence stand in your own way when trying to make good pictures. Secondly, you feel less bad about the next best person who you think has little skill or artistic ability showing you a photo that seems more interesting than what you have been producing for the last few months – which is really the same as the first point.

Other than that I highly recommend to read the Sontag book. I have just borrowed it from the library for a re-read once more.