Do You Feel Trapped by the Title 'Photographer'?

Do You Feel Trapped by the Title 'Photographer'?

Known for his fashion and royal wedding photographs, Alexi Lubomirski is looking to change how the world views him. And this starts with his title. Perhaps pigeonholed as photographers, we should all be looking to adjust how the world views us. Do you express your creativity outside photography?

Lubomirski’s new book, Talk to Me Always: Poetry, Prose & Photography, is full of photography, the written word, and even a bit of painting.

In the press release materials related to his book, Lubomirski explains that he often feels trapped by the perception that he is a photographer. It’s interesting that he notes that this is both how he is perceived by others, and how he perceives himself. Basically, he felt:

Every time I got inspiration... I would think, how can I take this inspiration and transform that into a photograph?

As if his only way to be creative was to photograph. At some point, Lubomirski consciously decided to allow his inspiration to reach across mediums and artistic forms. 

It could be a montage, a painting, a poem, prose, or whatever...

Breaking free from convention, Lubomirski has dubbed himself a photopoet.

My questions to you: Do you ever dabble in other creative mediums? If so, do you share this work anywhere? If Lubomirski is a photo-poet, what would you call yourself?

As an important side note, proceeds from Lubomirski’s new book will benefit Concern Worldwide, an organization that works to end poverty around the world.

Lead image by the author.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Mark is a Toronto based commercial photographer and world traveller who gave up the glamorous life of big law to take pictures for a living.

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Not really, I feel like the title is already pretty expansive. The line between post processing and digital art is so blurry it's basically meaningless. Wardrobe and makeup for a model are their own art forms, as is setting up a still life. Light painters often incorporate words into their photos.

Agreed - Photography covers a huge range of arts and practices!

Not at all. I've had people ask me if I was the 'artist' when looking at my prints. I tell them I use a camera because I have a hard time drawing a stick figure. :-) Artists are painters, sculptors, etc. I like the 'photographer' description.

I use nearly that same example.

I don't agree. Photographers can be artists. It's a 'new' art, but it's still an art form. Or rather, can be.
I'm very interested in why you don't think that it's an art form, what's the criteria to be an art form?

I tend to agree, but for me, I much prefer 'photographer'.

For me, I dabble in writing, both poetry and prose. I tend to enter my writings in local competitions, and I have published a chapter book for middle-elementary students as well.

Amazing! Congratulations.
Two questions, did you find photography informed your writing, or vice versa?
What are the names of your cast?

I think that my photography and writing tend to be entirely separate. There is not much overlap if any. That's just the way they are.

I assume you meant the characters in my book. It mainly focuses on the protagonist, Matt Stewart. There are a few peripheral characters as well. I'm working on a sequel in which I bring out one of those characters and cast her in the spotlight.

I don't feel trapped by it because it took me a long time to embrace it. I've taken photos for a long time but only in the past year or two have I grown comfortable enough to call myself a photographer.

I can relate to that.

I like that sentiment Bruce. What was it that made you more comfortable calling yourself a photographer? My moment came when I started to make a living doing it, but, I disappoint myself, as art should always be tied to income.

Part of it was consistency. I felt like i needed to achieve that. I needed to consistently be able to capture good images and know what it takes to get there, knowing not just how but why certain settings and configurations work for me and being able to repeat them.

Another part that got me there was the fact that some of my images were being sold. Sure you can be an awesome photographer and never sell your images but it's nice (not necessary) when someone sees value in your work. It's also nice when you see your sold images in the wild.

I couldn't agree more, consistency is what separates amateurs versus pros; at least in my opinion.

I'll take "photographer" over "visual storyteller" any day.

I prefer to be thought of as a photographer.

I really dislike the term, "visual storyteller", because I do not want to tell stories with my photographs. I want to show something beautiful with my photos, not tell stories.

I do involve myself in other arts, but they are mostly fun creative outlets, and not the culmination of all of my passions and objectives, like my photography is. I take still photography very seriously - it is really the only thing in my life that I truly care about. Everything else that I do, including other types of art, is just done for a bit of fun, or to make my photography better by becoming more well-rounded.

I can appreciate your comment, Tom, but, I'd argue that you do tell stories. I want to know more about the big horn you recently posted. The way he's looking at you. The length of his horns, that's all story to me!

Hey, Mark

I would agree that there is a story there with the Bighorn, but argue that a single still photo does not tell that story. The single still image merely shows that there is a story to be told, but yet falls short of telling the story.

If the single image told the story on its own, then you wouldn't need to ask any questions about it, right?

I assume you're talking about the Bighorn image that is on the "cover" of the Wildlife sub-forum. Is that correct?

If so, then I took that one at 114mm with a 100-400mm zoom, and the image is not cropped except to make it a panoramic aspect ratio for the banner usage. So I was pretty darn close to him. There were a couple of other rams around - a loosely knit bachelor group during the peak of the autumn rut. I got above the rams, in hope of shooting at a slightly downward angle, in order to get the distant landscape in the image, for an environmental portrait.

Here's the completely uncropped version:

I may be in the minority here; I'm active as an artist (painting, sculpture, concept) and as a writer (novel, screenplay). And sometimes I use photography to create "paintings" or as a form of storytelling. I also make photographs of things I see and just for fun.

Fantastic. Do you share any of it?

Share means free, so I'll share just for fun after I close my backlog of higher priority items. Not to make excuses but last year put me behind a walker and I'm recovering from cataract surgeries. It's so nice to see again!

I can see how any label like this could become restrictive, especially if it has the effect of closing someone's mind to other professional avenues (for example, by making it harder for them to realise that what they're trying to do as a career would be better pursued as a hobby).

Well put. Language is much more powerful than we often give it credit for. It can effectively close doors. Even in your own mind. Agreed.