Focus on the story

Hobby photography vs. professional

As technology improves, great photography becomes more accessible. When a sizable chunk of the population carries a camera around in their pockets, what makes a professional photographer special?

“Shoot First, Ask Questions Later,” an upcoming live taping of an episode of the podcast Witchpolice Radio, will look at how many concert goers take photos with their phones then “barf ‘em up onto Instagram without giving it a second thought.”

Witchpolice host Sam Thompson says he respects pro photographers in the music scene, because they contribute to the experience of seeing live music.

“Anyone can take a picture of something that’s happening, but to take a picture that actually tells a story is a bit of a different skill,” he says.

Thompson is hosting the event because he wants to explore the art of capturing the right image for the right musician.

Growing up, he says he admired album cover art and started to recognize the distinct styles of certain photographers.

“I feel that photos really contribute to the identity of a record label or a band in a way that many people don’t give enough credit.”

Jenny Ramone – one of the photographers who will be featured at Witchpolice Radio’s live taping on Oct. 16 – spent years teaching herself the ins and outs of photography before attending PrairieView School of Photography to refine her skills.

She has seen a smartphone or two get in the way of a good shot and notes that stopping to take a photo can take a person out of the moment. Ramone, however, says she mostly enjoys seeing photographers of all levels enjoy their cameras.

“It’s super inspiring, because I think that’s where any professional starts, as just the amateur with the love of doing it,” she says.

Elizabeth Spence, a hobby photographer turned viral sensation, is an example of someone who translated that joy of doing it into something more.

After putting a doctorate in English literature on hold to have children, Spence was looking for a creative outlet.

“Discovering photography and the knowledge that I could be creative with it and be at home with my kids at the same time was definitely a saving grace,” she says.

Some professional photographers don’t mind sharing the stage with amateurs, because everyone has to start somewhere.

Spence feels that as photography and technology move forward together, there is room for everyone to work together.

“Best-case scenario, I hope both teams can happily coexist, inspire and challenge each other to make the profession even better and more exciting than ever,” she says.

Gio Navarro, an advanced selfie artist turned event photographer, says he has definitely found excitement in his ongoing transition from hobbyist to pro.

“If I could travel back in time, I’d high-five the ’90s version of me,” he says.

Published in Volume 71, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 12, 2016)

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