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As I began taking pictures, my dream was to be a photographer. I thought that I had to quit my full-time job to be a photographer. I thought that I had to sell prints for a certain amount of money to be a photographer. I thought that I have to have a certain amount of fans on Facebook to be a photographer. I thought that so many outside elements defined what “photographer” meant that I didn’t take the time to realize the most important thing: I already was a photographer.

I hear people qualifying “photographer” in so many different ways. I have spoken to people at exhibitions of mine who call themselves “aspiring” photographers, who say that they will never become a “real” photographer unless they sell their prints for the same amount that I sell mine. And trust me, I have felt the same walking into other galleries. To this, I have a few words. That is another artist’s truth, not yours. How much they sell their prints for is based on experience and personal opinion. It does not make anyone else less of a photographer, or anyone else more of a photographer.

There are always people who will know more than you, make more money, and seem like the best of the best. What we don’t often realize is that it goes both ways. There are also people who might not be doing as well as you, who make less money than you. We are all on different paths. We are all trying to build a future for ourselves. My truth is not your truth, and yours is not mine. We need to stop seeing ourselves in the context of others; we need to see our own unique path without forcing it to intersect with another.

To the “aspiring” photographers, who perhaps have not sold a print, or booked any sessions, or feel that their numbers on Facebook aren’t good enough. Stop calling yourself an “aspiring” photographer. You are as much of a photographer as anyone else. The amount of money you make does not determine what is in your heart. To those “professional” photographers, who have sold prints or booked sessions, or have a lot of Facebook fans. The word “professional” is nothing but a label. It does not determine how great of a photographer you are. We are all equal.

We all start somewhere. If you try to take someone else’s journey, you will only achieve someone else’s dream. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. If you want to be a photographer, and you take pictures, call yourself a photographer. The sooner you drop the “aspiring” part, the sooner others will take you seriously as a professional.

Sometimes we need to all practice together: “I am a photographer.”



{ 28 } Comments

  1. Borja Merino | May 7, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Gran fotografía, gran articulo.. ¡Un saludo de otro fotógrafo! ;)

  2. jansenphoto | May 7, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I am a photographer!

  3. Marita Speen | May 7, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you Brooke for this post! That was exactly what I needed right now. I just got a letter from the university where I wanted to study photography soo bad!! They rejected me. No reasons, just some words that everybody was fobbed off with, who was not “good” enough. I didn’t had the opportunity to make money with photography so far but that’s my dream. And sometimes dreams come true, don’t they? Till then I continue dreaming.

    Thanks again!

  4. Caroline | May 7, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I completely agree with you here. It can be so daunting to try and try and try with no success- I started to think people were right when they said I could “never make it”. Once I got rejected from art school I thought that maybe I was wrong about my skills. Just that week I had an exhibition and sold four prints, and later got hired by a bag designer to shoot her upcoming series. I’m in now way bragging saying this, just I think it’s so important to never doubt yourself because others are better or perhaps because it’s taking too long to ‘become famous’ or noticed or whatever. Your break (although it may not seem big at first) will come when you least expect it, and start bulding up from there. Oh ,and also…don’t let other people tell you what you should do. You do what you want to do and unless it’s hurting them (which in no way photography can) it’s none of their business. Times are tough, but everything happens for a reason (I know how cheesy that sounds but hey ;) )

    Anyway, I’m done!
    Thanks Brooke for continually reminding us that nothing’s impossible. People underestimate what passion can really work in a life.

    xx Caroline

  5. Shasta | May 7, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this! I needed this! There is a lot of competition where I live, there is also a lot of EGO. I put down my camera a few months ago because I didn’t want to fight and compete with everyones ego. It took something away from my soul to put down my cameras… two weeks ago I got them back out, I won’t put them away again. I am me… and I won’t compete with anyone’s ego, that’s their life, not mine. :-)

  6. tina terras | May 7, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    no money, but happy… :-)

    I am so lucky to tell you:
    “I am a photographer.”

  7. Lucy | May 7, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Thank you do much. I really needed to read something like this. You Are amazing. Thank you for always writing on your blogs. I always look forward on what you are going to write next. I will never give up on my passion/dream.

  8. Libertad Leal | May 7, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    So true.

    I am a photographer!


  9. Beata Rydén | May 7, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I´m a photographer ;) Love!

  10. Elizabeth | May 7, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I’m a musician and I love reading your blog posts…they’re really inspiring for any type of creative person, not just photographers. :)

  11. Quinna B | May 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you.

  12. Sara Helwe | May 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what to call myself. All I know is that I can’t seem to know how to market myself even locally. I work hard and think very deep for new photography ideas, but no results. I hope I get feedback from you at least. You’re my all time favorite inspirational photographer :)

  13. andy teo | May 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I am a photographer, my cameras made me say it !

    It sounds like the start of an AA meeting, “My name is Andy and I’m a photographer “;-)))

  14. sarah | May 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    thank you.

  15. Jocelyne | May 7, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    You are so inspiring Brooke. Your words go straight to my heart… <3

  16. Sue | May 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you. I needed this today.

  17. Arun | May 7, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    A motivational article, like it very much. Really there are photographers who does need this cup of motivation to stay focused. Thanks a lot.


  18. Diana Debord | May 8, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    this is so motivational, Brooke.

  19. SYLVAIN-PIKE | May 8, 2013 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    You made a great job and an excellente teacher

  20. Bill | May 8, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Great post.

    I’ll tell young people “always be happy but never satisfied”


  21. Tanja | May 8, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Amen. :)

  22. James Robinson | May 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Great post and advice Brooke …. keep moving forward and best wishes.

  23. Sofia C. | May 17, 2013 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you for inspiration, Brooke!
    I’am a photographer!

  24. Tracy V | May 19, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    This post reminds me of something one of my teachers in photography school said, “You need to stop thinking of yourselves as students and start thinking of yourselves as poor (meaning no money) photographers. You might be poor and you might still be learning but make no mistake you, guys, are photographers,” Thanks for the reminder. Great post.

  25. Jenn | May 20, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I guess because I majored in English in college I am a stickler about using terms correctly. If you say you are a photographer, but it isn’t your profession, you are using the term incorrectly. If you just like to take pictures for fun as a hobby, you are not a photographer. You are simply someone who likes to take pictures. The term “photographer” in the dictionary is defined as “Someone who takes pictures professionally”, so the two terms go hand in hand and if you are going to be technical about it you can’t separate the two. But other than that I understand what you are saying. If you are a hobbyist say “I love to take pictures”. If you say “I am a photographer”, you are telling someone that is your profession.

  26. Oscar | May 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Brooke this is the most inspiring thing i ever read before. The truth is that it has happen to me before, i continue calling my selg a “aspiring” photographer, however, my vision has been changing and this message has come to me throw your written words. Thabk you!

  27. Sandra | May 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi there. I’m from Spain, right now I’m studying photography in Barcelona. Today I’ve found you, your work, your blog, your gallery, your photos and your (lovelies) ‘Behind the scenes’. Just now, I’ve read this post. I think you’re huge. My heart has found a place on your words. So thanks at all for them.
    I call myself “aspiring” photographer. Now, I’ll try to believe in me and in what I do everyday and also will try to say: ‘I am a photographer.’

  28. Deb Taylor | June 25, 2013 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this truth !
    I. Am. A. Photographer.

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