I’d like to think of myself as someone who writes and someone who writes enough. What does that mean? Am I a writer? Yes, I am. I write. In fact, my day job involves a lot of writing, mostly code, and technical documentation but still, I write. So, am I a writer? I am a person who writes, and it does so a lot. But my writing is not what people see as the product of a writer. A writer is a person who writes novels and poetry and has books or columns published, you know what I mean. But I disagree. You don’t have to get paid as a photographer or a writer to call yourself one of those things.
I also take photographs, a lot of them. I take photos every day, sometimes a few and sometimes dozens, every day. Am I a photographer? I think I am. Do I get paid for my photography? No, I don’t. Not yet. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but I consider myself a photographer.
Our society likes differentiating people who get paid for a creative task vs. those who don’t. This has consequences. Many people are afraid to call themselves a photographer or a writer, for example, for fear of sounding ridiculous or pretentious. But why? If you take photos often, if it’s part of your life, you are a photographer. If you write anything, and you do it often, then you are also a writer. You might not be great at any of these things, or maybe you are superb, but that doesn’t matter. You are still those things.
Why is it important to use titles such as “Photographer” or “Writer”? I think it’s important because it makes you believe in yourself, makes you serious about your craft, and makes others think of you (professionally) as one of those things. If anyone asks, you can always clarify that you are not a “professional” writer or photographer, for example, because you are not getting paid for your work, not yet.
Labels and titles are important because people choose to give them importance, and instead of ignoring or pretending that I don’t care, I’d like to take advantage of the importance people give to these things to help me with my craft and career.
Don’t be afraid of using titles like these if you work hard and put enough time into any of these creative tasks.
Be proud of calling yourself a photographer or a writer, don’t be afraid of it. If you want people to recognize you as a photographer, a writer, or by any other title like that, then use it yourself first, and give them permission to do it too.