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When does “taking pictures” become a photo session?

[flickr id=”6135319777″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”medium” group=”” align=”centre”] ┬áThis post was inspired by a comment made by Kyla on one of her pictures she took of her twins and then posted to Facebook. The comment was “Did a photo session with the kids – trying out some high-key”, it got me thinking about when does simply “I took some pictures of my kids” become “I did a photo session”? Is it going in to the exercise with a set outcome in mind? Or is it having a certain level of equipment? Or a certain level of experience? Or some mystical combination of all of them? Or is it just an attitudinal thing “I believe I’ve reached a point where I can call this a shoot”. I’ve not asked, but I would guess that Kyla’s comment was made without any real thought about the words she was using.

Bribery is the key

I’ve done lots and lots of pictures of my kids, some of them have been multi strobe setups that wouldn’t have been out of place in a proper studio, but at no point have I ever thought about them as photo shoots, in my head I have just been taking pictures of the kids. Each of these times have been with a theme or a result in mind, something I’ve wanted to achieve or a technique that I have wanted to try and I’ve managed to convince them to play along(mainly using that favourite parental weapon – bribery). I’ve built up a reasonable set of lighting gear and I *think* I know how to use it at a little bit beyond the basic level, I’m not David Hobby, but I can usually get the result I’m after with a bit of chimping. [flickr id=”6088212107″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”small” group=”” align=”right”]

Line ’em up, knock ’em down

So, for me, that’s theme, gear and experience out of the window, which just leaves us with either the mystic zen combination or attitude. I’m not swayed by that combination idea it just doesn’t seem right, I know the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts, but i’m pretty sure in this case that it doesn’t apply. So that just leaves us with attitude. There are two sides to this; am I under valuing my ability or is Kyla right and I should be thinking about calling those times when I take pictures as “Shoots”?

It’s only words, but words are all I have

Of course there is the point of view that it doesn’t actually matter if you call it a shoot or just call it taking pictures. In the words of Voltaire “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”, words are what make a civilisation, how we describe what we do sets our place in the world in other people’s minds. For the average Joe in the street the words “Photo shoot” or “Photo session” conjure up images of expensive studios and America’s Next Top Model, even if they couldn’t identify any of the equipment in use by name they would know it was being used by a professional.

Walk the walk, talk the talk

[flickr id=”5988013179″ thumbnail=”small” overlay=”true” size=”small” group=”” align=”left”] Back to that idea of attitude, and the idea that is the centre of this post; Am I undervaluing myself as a photographer? I’d like to think that it’s just because I don’t have delusions of grandeur and I can only be pretentious when it’s done in a very OTT or tongue in cheek way. I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of calling myself a professional photographer, this would be why I don’t think of shoots or sessions when I am taking pictures. Perhaps now that attitude needs to change, I’m now selling images reasonably regularly and this is certainly something I am seriously thinking of expanding as much as possible. I’ve got a couple of ideas for growing shutterview and some other outlets where I think there is money to me made, above and beyond the work that is available via Red Bubble and Getty. Food for thought! Comments as always, welcome!