For a long time there I stopped calling myself a photographer, opting instead for some iteration of “digital photoartist.” The issue was that my work was so heavily reliant on processing that even thought it may have started as a photo, it really wasn’t one by the end. Pixels were added, subtracted, multiplied, divided, contorted and riven by various and sundry dark arts, etc.
This sort of thing bothers the purists. If there’s a continuum with journalism at one extreme and art on the other, I’m hanging ten off the art end, and occasionally I’ve been given to understand this isn’t according to Hoyle. At times it almost feels like my character is in question.
So I tried to appease the critics by distinguishing up front which was what. I even went so far as to split my work up onto two web sites – one for my more traditional photography and another for the digital fuckery.
But then a friend passed along this PetaPixel article on the six photographer types. I got to #4 and stopped cold. Wait, you mean official, establishment experts accept what I do as … photography, full stop?
The author, Michael Rubin of Neomodern, presents a taxonomy that accounts for basically everything you can do with a camera. Kinda.
That first one – the Hunter/Gatherer – a lot of folks are that, including street shooters like my friends Dan Ryan and macro-god Denny Wilkins, who’s mainly a strolling nature wizard. The folks with limitless patience who set up in a blind for three days to get a shot of a lion yawning? Sportsmen. Ansel Adams landscapists? Explorers. And so on.
I actually seem to be a bit of a hybrid, though. I’m always an Illustrator. “Pixels are manipulated,” as it says in the article. With prejudice. But, I work from original photos. Everything starts with me and the Nikon. A lot of times I start out as a Hunter/Gatherer, but more and more (especially now that I have a lightbox) I’m a Director. My recent Fleurs du Mort series, for instance, was 100% staged in a controlled studio-ish environment, etc.
So I’m either a 1-4 hybrid or a 2-4. And all my work has been reintegrated into one portfolio site.
What are you?