The Shootist

I’m a good shot on the shooting range. Better than average even with my variable focus eyeglasses. At a carnival I once won a gigantic Pooh Bear for my daughter by getting the crossbow arrow completely inside the miniscule red star. It did take me two shots though. So with a handgun, a rifle, or a crossbow I’m a good shooter.

With a camera I’m a lousy shooter. I just suck. That’s because with a camera, I’m not a shooter, I’m a photographer. I’m proud of being a photographer. I hate the description of a photographer as a good “shooter”. I always have since I first heard the term in Chicago of the ‘80s. I was working on location through a big catalog house and people kept calling the other photographers “shooters’. I find it demeaning and insulting. Shooters shoot at things. Photographers bring something of themselves to the photographer. Even commercial photographers. I’ve been lucky in my career to have people want my input on what we were creating. They wanted my vision. They wanted to hear me say “ let’s put your kitchen appliances in a sculpture garden” or “the TV should be in a completely empty room because it’s the first thing you unpacked when you moved in”. Those were the most fun, but of course some clients were gun-shy, but none ever turned me into a “Shooter”. Yeah, it’s cost me some clients, but that’s OK.

Then there’s the opposite side of the coin. During the years I worked in Paris, I often heard “you’re the artist”. Always “the artist” to the French, until they didn’t like what you did! I had one client who didn’t like how I shot their furniture. At one of the typical Paris breakfast meetings at chic cafes, he told me, because of my defense of my point of view, that I made a better lawyer than photographer. Although trapped deep in a banquet, I walked out.

Well, I don’t consider myself an artist. I paraphrase Edward Weston: “Being a photographer is good enough for me”. Me, too.


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