Tuesday, May 11, 2010

{by any other name...}

So...my sister-in-law introduced me to someone the other day as a photographer. This was weird. I actually kind of cut her off mid-sentence and tried to throw a word or two in there to correct her. Instead, the mumbling idiot that I can be only managed to muster up something resembling "uhhh...well, not really...I mean, it's more...you know..." And on the misery went!

This prompted an interesting question afterwards though; why did I feel so uncomfortable actually being considered a photographer?

When I started running about eight years ago, I experienced the same challenge. I would run five or six times a week, trained for various races, participated in running groups and even completed a full marathon...but I never felt completely comfortable calling myself a runner. This would bother my husband to no end. "Anyone who gets up early on a Sunday morning in the middle of winter to run twenty kilometers better either call themselves a runner...or come back to bed!", he would say. He had a valid point! For me though, I always felt like I had to earn the title of being labeled a runner. As far as I was concerned, being called a runner was reserved for those who ran seriously...not someone like myself who run fifteen kilometers straight to the nearest poutine stand! Most of all, I was always waiting for that specific finish line, that specific and perfectly run race that somehow deemed me worthy of being called a runner.

Sure enough, I woke up one day and decided that I was indeed, a runner. I may not have been a good runner or a fast runner and least of all, a "serious" runner...but I was a runner! I would run through the rain, through the snow, through half marathons, through full marathons, and most of the time...I would run my way right through the front door of a Starbucks! What couldn't be disputed though was the fact that I did indeed run....and I loved it! So that became my criteria for being called a runner, once and for all!

I've been trying to apply the same logic to this new {and somewhat larger than life} title as photographer. I've been spending the past year trying to earn my way into these ranks but I never really stopped to ask myself what I considered to be the finish line. I've been continuously looking for that one photograph or that one shoot or that one moment that would carry me over through the realms of worthiness. I suppose I should be realistic enough with myself to acknowledge that my perfectionist nature may never really consider myself worthy of being called a photographer. This can be detrimental or this can be what challenges me to constantly push my creative boundaries. The choice is mine. But what can't be disputed is the fact that I do indeed take pictures...and I love it!

So by that logic...my name is Gen...and I am a photographer!


Jen Berry said...

great sincere post. i feel the exact same way.

Alexandra said...

i feel the exact same way! i think it's because if i say i'm a photographer i'm afraid that people have these expectations and i'm scared i won't meet them. also because i'm still in university so i'm not really a professional photographer yet. anyway, i liked this post. really very honest.