Why I prefer the title of ‘Artist’ to “Professional Photographer”

Like most photographers, it started as a hobby. When I realized I was actually kind of good, and friends started asking me if I could take ‘professional’ headshots for them, I decided to pursue it as a second career. I rented a studio, made business cards and started calling myself a “Professional Photographer.” It made sense, people were willing to pay me to take their photo, so why not? I knew I probably would never give up my ‘day job,’ but I still thought the title added an air of credibility to me. I wasn’t just some GWC (Guy with Camera), I was a pro!

But I started to hear from others terrible stories of so called “professionals” treating models in terrible ways. Some of these men were even full time photographers, doing weddings to pay the bills and doing artistic nude photos on the side. But the behavior of some of these men toward nude models and aspiring models was downright terrible. Not all male photographers, probably not even most, but a large percentage nonetheless.

From inappropriate comments to even assault, I watched their behavior tarnish the notion of being a ‘Professional Photographer.’ I heard heartbreaking stories from women who thought they could try becoming a model being taken advantage of and giving up on their dream. And some women have heard these stories and decided to not even try because of the fear of what might happen to them.

So I decided I wanted to try to work with aspiring models and show them that there are decent men out there that care about their safety and comfort. I wanted to show them that there are men who care about the artistic part of the term artistic nude. And that being a model didn’t mean you even had to get naked or semi naked (it frightens me how often I’ve heard male photographers tell aspiring models that if they wanted to make money they had to do nudes) Most importantly, I wanted to make sure women felt safe and that they could pursue their dreams and not be subjected to the foul behavior or words of these so called ‘Professionals’.

I’m going to talk more in a future post about working with new models and the business side of things, but that is why I prefer using the word artist versus photographer. there are of course artists who are terrible people as well, and no title is ever really pure… But I consider what I do to be art, and the models I work with are fellow artists.