I’m not a pro photographer, I’m not a performance cyclist.
I’m guessing the likelihood is you’re not either.
Which is important for us to remember, for two main reasons –
1. It means we stop trying to compete with others.
We shouldn’t expect to make a stunningly magnificent photograph every time we release the shutter. We needn’t try to break land speed records every time we straddle a bicycle.
Instead, we can just find our own rhythms, and go at our own pace. And delight in the experience.
2. It means we don’t need to follow the latest trends and try to keep up with the latest available kit.
We don’t need to spend hours poring over the latest catalogues, forums and reviews. Then spend hundreds on gear we can’t really afford, feel intimidated by, and are terrified of damaging.
Instead we can just use whatever we already have, whether that’s a ten year old digital camera, a beaten up 35 year old bicycle, or a well loved 50 year old vintage film camera.
Do you find yourself getting caught up in competing with the performance levels of the pros, or chasing the latest gear? Why do you think this is?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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17 thoughts on “I’m Not A Pro Photographer, I’m Not A Performance Cyclist”
I don’t think of myself as being competitive, but then sometimes I’m surprised that I am.
I’m definitely not a pro photographer. No thanks; pros have to take pictures of what others want and I’d rather photograph what I want.
The other day I was reading the Year In Review post (on Patreon) for Casual Photophile, where James Tocchio casually mentioned that his blog got two million views in 2018. GULP, two million!!! I’ve gotten 1.5 million – but it’s taken me almost 12 years! I want to have two million views in a year!
That sent me down a mental rabbit hole of things I could do to better promote my blog, make sure I’m superserving the film-photography audience, create some sort of product line, and more.
Soon I realized: then my blog becomes a job. And I’m not writing/photographing what I want.
Realistically, even if I *wanted* to go that route, I don’t see how it would ever replace the darned good salary I make in software engineering middle management.
But I really don’t want it. I don’t want to be a pro blogger. Pros have to blog about what others want and I’d rather blog about what I want.
Yes and I think it often shows in the blogs that are looking for income, and being/becoming “pro”.
I used to read pretty much every post on the site you mention with the 2 million views, but rarely do now. I just got fed up with all the links to buy stuff, either in their shop or via an eBay affiliate link. It makes me question the impartiality of the reviews too, if you’re trying to sell an example or two of a certain camera or lens, you’re not going to say it’s rubbish!
There’s another aspect to it. After a while, all the “pro” review sites tend toward Leica.
What about the camera you found in that junk store? I think that’s where my camera reviews are going. Kind of like Camera Go Camera. What wacky gear can I unearth and put film through?
I think that’s likely to have a much more enthusiastic audience. Smaller, but more devoted.
Do you know the 52cameras site? It’s not very active now, but Tony must have shot with hundreds of cameras, many of them pretty obscure!
Jim, looks like Tony is still going strong on his Flickr –
Yep. Longtime follower.
I’m totally with you. My elderly EBay purchase of a bicycle got me from the north to the south of France perfectly well! After all, there is nothing worse than having “All the gear, but no idea”.
Love that phrase Katie, ha ha!
The diversity amongst cyclists is vast, and I admit I fall into stereotyping and inverted snobbery sometimes, as I do with cameras, cars, phones and other things. My general question common to all of us this though is why spend so much on stuff that isn’t actually going to have any meaningful impact on your life? Especially when you could spend that money on something far more worthwhile, or people in far greater need.
Wise words … I think I’m probably quite mean with money and don’t be shocked, but I have a love of charity shops. I think my mother would turn in her grave! Having said that, a beautiful cashmere ‘anything-at-all’ gets me over-excited and a tad giddy! Have a lovely Christmas my friend and don’t eat too much dark chocolate 😫! Katie x
There’s a disappointing lack of the hard stuff in the house currently it’s all milk chocolate or stuff like Celebrations, or even worse, the greatest crime ever committed to chocolate – chocolate and mint products, yuck! Happy Christmas to you too Katie.
Ha! Oooh I love a crunchy Elizabeth Shaw or Bendicks Mint!
No, I do not compete … why should I … instead I try to see how/what others do, learn how I could do things and getting better … life long learning. Not to forget, having fun with all that cool stuff 😉
Yes Reinhold, it’s vital we remember the fun element!
Dan, your post came at an opportune time for me, as I’m in something of a crisis stage with my photography and wondering whether to give it all up. I’ve been looking at other people’s work and finding mine wanting. Years of sharing my images and feeling conflicted about why I do it has ended up with me losing sight of what photography is all about – that need to do something creative for oneself. I want to get back to that, but don’t know how. Maybe shooting film for a while might be a way forward? I have a lovely Canon A1 that sees no action. Anyway, have a great Christmas. I came to your blog only recently and enjoy reading your thoughts very much.
Michael, thanks for your comments, and I’m very pleased to hear you’re enjoying 35hunter.
I remember you saying a few weeks back you were in this kind of place, not sure of why you’re shooting OR sharing anymore.
Off the top of my head I would suggest a couple of things.
1. Don’t share anything you photograph for a period of time, say a month. See how that feels and how it influences what and how you’re photographing. I know there have been times when my thinking has been too far down the road of “would this image be “good enough” to post to Flickr or my blog so I can show something new” rather than “is this the absolute best image I can and want to make in these circumstances?” If the answer to the latter is no, then walk away and look for something else that will work better.
2. Shifting pace somehow, either from colour to b/w, close up to middle distance, shallow depth of field to large depth of field, street photography to nature photography – or vice versa with any of these. Making this kind of shift can give us a whole fresh challenge and boost of motivation.
Good luck, and let us know how you get on.
Happy Christmas to you too.
The most enjoyable film blogs I have found to look through are the most unassuming ones. Yes its nice to read a good review on a well established site, but there seems to be something inevitably lost, and unattractive, when someone is getting bigger in the britches and purposely striving for greater recognition. The feel of the blog is different. And the most interesting photography is amateur, considering that pretty welll everyone is that anyway versus ‘professional’. I will check a blog like casual photophile, but only occasionally. Most of the time its the smaller blogs I check and am always hoping to find new ones that are interesting.
Thanks Zoran for your thoughts. Yes I agree, there are a couple of blogs I can think of which started out very much from the perspective of enthusiastic amateur, but then obviously went down a route of monetisation and selling, to their detriment.
The one you mention still has some very interestingly written posts in my view, but just always offering links to buy the kit they’re reviewing within the post can’t help but make me question the impartiality of the review. You’re not going to say something is rubbish if you have a few of them to sell!