A few things got me writing this post: Brighton Beauty photographer John Farrar’s Facebook status “I’m a photographer not a tog!“, a “I’m not a photographer, I just love my dSLR” comment from my last street photography subject, a statement on composition from Frederick Van Johnson of Shut up and Shoot and my wife commenting on the people that have helped with lighting test shoots these past months.

They all got me thinking about which category each of us camera carriers fall into.

John is not a fan of the slang Tog, he hates it. Some commenters on his status joked that a Tog was a measurement of warmth for duvets, some that a tog was a “Guy with camera” (GWC) who just used it as a means to chat up women or get them into a state of undress. I’d not want to be associated with that group, I’m a married family man with a passion for fashion looking to create some great images, not relationships. Professional relationships of course, but not personal – I’m not going to be inviting and of my photography subjects over for dinner unless they were already friends before a shoot, sorry!

I’ve met a few GWC in my early film days when I’d been introduced to a camera club. Lighting was an afterthought for these guys and I was unsatisfied with the images. Thankfully through them I got introduced to a studio that ran professional lighting classes. Before I could do many they relocated to the country in order to get more space.

Role forward a few years after the sale of the T90 and M645 and the first Canon EOS purchase.. The ability to review images immediately in the studio was brilliant. Thankfully the former manager of my local lab listened to comments about the basement going to waste, had the floor lowered a few feet and turned it into a studio. After plenty street photography and shooting with just softboxes in the studio I knew that fashion and portraits was my thing and that I also wanted to try other lighting techniques.

I’ve been handing my cards out to both men and women of various ages for my lighting test shoots, probably in a 1:2 ratio. To date only the younger ladies have responded. Quite what that says about who likes to be in front of the lens I’ll leave to the reader to decide. If you’re male and have been handed one of my cards then hopefully you’ll be the one to break the pattern!

What puts people into the other categories; Photographer and Happy Snapper?

A snapper will have the focus point set to the middle of the screen and will probably have the camera in full auto. Once focused a shot will not be recomposed, so when photographing a person the face it will be slap bang in the middle of the shot.

A photographer will think about a number of issues before pressing the shutter button:

Depth of field – Do I want the background blurred to make the foreground subject stand out or is there some background detail that’s relevant to the image?

Shutter Speed – Am I trying to freeze time or do I want to deliberately get some motion blur, for example when tracking a moving object.

Composition – Where is the best place to put the primary subject in the frame? What’s the best view point, would getting higher or lower help the image? Would being further back with a longer focal length be better than up close with a wide angle lens?

Lighting – Where is the light relative to the subject and is it soft or harsh? What colour is the light? If harsh can I put the light behind the subject and meter so that the subject is properly exposed?

If you think of any of the above but don’t consider yourself a photographer then I’ve got news for you, you are one! Admit it, enjoy it, keep clicking and try and do the other things listed.