You think you are a photographer. People – even clients – may have branded you as one. Perhaps your website and your business card and your stock answer at parties all lay claim to being a “photographer”.
But I’m here to tell you that you’re not.
And to tell you what you are.
1. You are a superhero.
Spiderman is great with his web-slinging and “spidey sense”. The Fantastic Four? A little showy, but they get the job done. Batman has all these cool gadgets to capture criminals. Superheroes have these nifty outfits and masks and secret disguises. You’re not them. You’re better.
You stop time. Repeatedly. Those tender glances, those infectious giggles, those magnificent landscapes where the sun kisses the land at just the right angle? You caught them. Red-handed. And then, just like the other amazing superheroes, you give those frozen moments captured to those who will treasure them forever, displaying your bounty for all to see and admire.
There should be ticker-tape parades in your honor or a brass band celebration or… heck, a plate from the Franklin Mint. Superheroes don’t do it for the money or the glory. They do it because they feel compelled to share their gifts with the world. (Of course, the money and the glory are just added benefits, but without your gifts and talents, you wouldn’t get very far.)
2. You are an artist.
With your inner eye, you transform the random flotsam and jetsam of daily life into the eternal. You burn with an inner spark and it explodes with brilliance when you “feel” that you got the shot. Take a second and remember how you get chills up your spine when you know you nailed it.
People may describe you as a little “out there”, but really, aren’t all artists slightly mad? (Some, more than others, of course. No need to cut off your ear like Van Gogh.) But you’re a smart artist, combining your talents with a business knowhow. Artists like you seek out others for inspiration, as the great masters have done throughout the centuries. (You’re just lucky to do it in the digital age.)
And you are constantly pushing the envelope. Or the edge. Or the boundaries. Whatever you push, you don’t stop until you get it right, because you’re an artist. The earliest artists were cave painters. Artists advanced because they chose to learn and get outside of their comfort zones. You do the same.
3. You are a magician.
You make it look easy, because you know what’s inside the top hat and how the doves are supposed to magically appear. You’ve practiced and practiced and make some mistakes and you’ve learned from them. By the time you’re ready to perform, your “volunteer from the audience” is completely in awe of what you do.
Just like Houdini and David Copperfield and Penn & Teller, we know it’s all an act, but we’re still enthralled because you create the illusion and then you “presto-chango!” into a superhero and stop time. It looks like magic to us. It feels magical. Your clients want to feel the magic.
How do I know this?
I’m your Jimmy Olson. Your Catherine de’ Medici. Your breathless fan at the stage door.
I’m your client.
And because of what you do and the talents you have, you are not a photographer to me.
You are much, much more.