Once upon a time I was a photographer.
I bought the fancy camera. I had the lenses, the filters, the lighting. I set up a professional studio. I spent a fortune on editing software and printers. Business cards were created, scrapped, and recreated. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent to make a name for myself.
After three failed portrait sessions, I realized clients were too high maintenance for the little pay they would reluctantly offer. It was no great loss. My passion was nature anyway.
I had a photo picked up by CNN. There were a few published in magazines, and one in a book. I won half a dozen awards or so. My photos were starting to sell.
The more people who saw my photos, however, the more I started to hate them. As I spent more time at art shows and in galleries with my work and the work of others, I came to a haunting realization. Any person with a digital camera could take a photo just like mine.
It didn’t matter that I had spent years honing my craft. It didn’t matter that I had spent countless hours in classes and in darkrooms to learn the technical aspect of photography. It didn’t matter that I had spent a small fortune to reach my goals. It mattered least that I could consistently produce good work.
I learned quickly the true meaning of the proverb that claims even a blind pig kicks an apple once in a while. No one wants to spend $150 on professional work when they can reproduce the work on their own time. Suddenly, everybody and their brother was a fauxtographer. Suddenly, I couldn’t bear to pick up my camera.
Perhaps I am jealous. Maybe I am bitter. I am, without a doubt, pissed off.
I trained myself as a photographer. I taught myself how to consistently produce quality work. A fauxtographer picks up a camera and might snap a “quality” shot every 100 images or so. Yet, they can turn around and sell that one photo for the same price as my well thought out one.
I can pick up my camera no longer. It sits discarded in a corner of my office. Occasionally I will come across it and I look at it in disgust before pushing it aside once more. Sometimes I think I should sell it. Other times I want to slam it into the concrete and watch it explode into the broken shards of a million dreams.
More often than not, though, I just try to forget.