These are the eight phases of being a photographer – which one are you right now?

Aug 28, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

These are the eight phases of being a photographer – which one are you right now?

Aug 28, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Each of us has had our own journey in life, and the same goes for our photographic journey. But no matter how different we are, there are some things we all have in common. Evan Ranft has identified eight phases all photographers go through, and I’ve definitely recognized myself. Which phase are you in right now?

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1.The mistaken savant: this phase comes when you first pick up the camera and discover the exciting world of photography. You want to shoot everything and you’re incredibly overconfident, which is perfectly normal for every beginner.

2. The watermark phase: now that you’ve created those amazing works of art, you start slapping watermarks to them so no one would steal them. Interestingly enough, I’ve never been through this phase, I jumped straight to phase three.

3. The “wow I’m terrible” phase: the moment you realize that you still have a lot to learn. It’s kinda like a great awakening. Your old photos will likely make you cringe and, from my experience, this is a phase of reevaluating yourself and your work big time. There are tons of intense emotions going on and lots of questions popping into your mind. But you’ll start learning new things and techniques, which will lead you to phase five.

4. The overusing phase: once you learn and master all those new techniques, you’ll start overusing them. I clearly remember this phase when I learned how to make frames or do selective coloring

Should I use a frame or selective coloring? Why don’t we have both?! (2009)

in Photoshop. But this is also a normal stage of every learning process, so photography is no exception.

5. The “something is missing” phase: in this phase, everything settles down, you stop overusing newly learned and popular techniques, and it hits you: something’s missing from my photography. You start comparing yourself to photographers you admire, and by analyzing their work you realize what it is that you could improve.

6. Technical application phase: this is the phase when most people fall in love with photography. This is where true, deeper learning begins. You start applying everything that you’ve learned in phase five.

7. The humbled photographer phase: this is the phase where you actually own the knowledge you thought you owned in phase one. But funnily enough, you’re much less confident. You know that photography is difficult, that there’s constantly something new to learn, and that there are so many people better than you. This is usually the phase when, if someone asks “Are you a professional photographer,” you reply: “Nah, I just do it for fun” or something like that.

8. The repeating phase: this is something like a combination of phases five and six: you learn something, you start applying it and master it. Then you discover something new, learn it and apply that to your work. You constantly get back to being a novice and learning a totally new technique or genre. And you can go on like this until you decide to stop – but you may never want to stop, which is one of many beauties of photography. I think I’m currently at this stage because I’ve discovered astrophotography. I know how to use my camera and I know some basic theory about taking a good photo of the night skies, but there’s so much more to learn, discover, try, and master. And I’m looking forward to it.

Here’s my first ever photo of the Milky Way, taken this weekend. Still so much to learn and improve, but I was very excited to capture it!

So, which phase are you in right now?

[The 8 Phases of being a Photographer via ISO 1200]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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24 responses to “These are the eight phases of being a photographer – which one are you right now?”

  1. Andrus Chesley Avatar
    Andrus Chesley

    Probably in the 7th phase for ever. I do most pics one handed from a moving vehicle so the P mode with auto ISO is the norm for that. But when on two feet the other modes and setting are played with. Good thing is I don’t have to impress no one but me. ;-)

  2. Andrus Chesley Avatar
    Andrus Chesley

    7 for sure.

  3. Nina Gorjian Fotografie Avatar
    Nina Gorjian Fotografie

    Would say 7

  4. Pedro Sousa Filipe Avatar
    Pedro Sousa Filipe

    Phase 3.6.47 today.

  5. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    Phase One, the top. Lol

    1. Dunja0712 Avatar
      Dunja0712

      Welcome aboard! ;)

  6. Andreas Hofer Avatar
    Andreas Hofer

    Yeah, phase 8

  7. Michael Bray Avatar
    Michael Bray

    8 for sure

  8. Gina Bracho Avatar
    Gina Bracho

    3

  9. Tina Mooney Avatar
    Tina Mooney

    Good ‘ole 7

  10. Mitchell Noland Avatar
    Mitchell Noland

    This is so spot-on…

  11. The Moeller Avatar
    The Moeller

    Funny how peoples paths are forged. I only bought a dslr to get started with astrophotography. It opened up a separate world and brought me some inner peace I didn’t know I needed.

    1. slackercruster Avatar
      slackercruster

      Winogrand used to say “The more I do…the more I do.”

      I say…’one thing leads to another.’

      Just be open to new things and be willing to experiment. Although having $$ is a big deal with photo work. Photography is a money sucking activity.

      I’d prefer to be an artist as well, not even a painter. Just pencil and paper would be fine. Can’t get any more basic. Right now I need a 16mm sound film scanner. $50,000 to $90,000 for a cheapie.

  12. Kmpvg Avatar
    Kmpvg

    I guess 8? But not really. Cause i feel like i have the technical knowledge to do whatever i set my mind to. Below is my very first lighting photo. Is it an amazing work of art? No! but from a technical standpoint, it’s perfect, especially considering it was from my front yard and i didn’t plan for it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c71e720413a86e5e987c1cf5cc1412588aba13da29966f7691ac74da2792ba87.jpg

  13. Tufail Ismail Avatar
    Tufail Ismail

    What about the HDR phase

    1. Michael Clark Avatar
      Michael Clark

      #4

    2. slackercruster Avatar
      slackercruster

      Yes, like the HDR, the hyper-real, but don’t do all that much now.

      ‘Faces of Gentrification’

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e0a1f48653147b7b9020c8fe062ecf7bbc209ea791c916f549656db85de76e8a.jpg

  14. Sven Everaert Avatar
    Sven Everaert

    phase 9 : wanting to become a painter …

    1. honey Avatar
      honey

      Me too

  15. Clichey Avatar
    Clichey

    9. I quit…

    1. honey Avatar
      honey

      Almost there

  16. Marion Sa Avatar
    Marion Sa

    Something between 4 and 5 I think, I use a lot a technique I’ve learned this year but I still think that I’m missing something on my pictures.
    And i haven’t known the watermark phase ^^ (thank God this is so horrid !).

  17. Just telling the truth Avatar
    Just telling the truth

    Phase 9: don’t ask me take out my camera unless I’m getting paid

  18. slackercruster Avatar
    slackercruster

    Virus pretty much killed my photo work. I left NYC at early stages of spread. I’m old and have bad lungs so can’t fool around. But not a big deal except sad that lots of camera gear is sitting. But I also do archival work with photography, small gauge film, VHS and audio. So have more than enough work to occupy me for a few lifetimes.

    When I first started making the transition from film to digital, I watermarked stuff some. But gave it up pretty fast. My photos are not easily confused with others, so I didn’t worry about it. I just like to name files with the basic info that is needed. Sure people can change the names, but could can’t cover everything.

    Lately I’ve returned to heavily watermarking or ‘branding’ my archival work. But I don’t watermark in a way to deter or detract from usage. I run an ‘underground’ Archive and am snubbed and censored at every turn. So I brand the material for advertising my Archive.

    In May 2020, the Internet Archive banned me after working for them for 5-1/2 years as a volunteer. Over that time I had contributed about 70,000 to 110,000 items to the I.A.. They deleted it all in an instant. In 2019 Tumblr also deleted my accounts. I lost tens of thousands of items in 48 Tumblr’s that I had made over a 4+ year period.

    While I still had 80+ WordPress websites, I could see the writing was on the proverbial wall. If WordPress ever pulled the plug I could easily go from having the largest online presence of any photographer in the world to having a nil presence.

    After a month of complaining I chanced upon someone at the I.A. that restored my account. But I stress chanced. No one at the I.A., not even the owner, would not do a thing for me. So from all these loses, it inspired me to start advertising my work as I can’t depend on others to do it. Hence the revival of branding material. But this only applies to archival work. I still don’t watermark my personal photography.

    I also learned an important lesson in this process of loss. I had used the I.A. as a cloud for some of my material and I didn’t bother to keep about 5% of it. When they shut my account down I had no access to download it and had no copies of my own. The I.A. would not open my account even for a few days so I could retrieve my files. Underscores the importance of having my own copies…on M-Disc.