Is the person who clicks the shutter the photographer of an image?
I always kind of thought so, until I took this image of Shawna and I. I set up the lights. I posed us. But my wife clicked the image. I even told her how to compose it. But since I’m in it I couldn’t take it.
So is she the photographer or am I? She clicked the shutter. I could have put the camera on a tripod and the played trial and error too get the composition right. Would I then be the photographer because I started the self timer?
Seems obvious in this scenario that I created the image. I did everything to make it happen the way I envisioned it.
Let’s look at another scenario, a workshop. At my studio’s workshops we set up the lights. We recruit the models and pick what they wear. We often give them most of the direction they are going to get. And we tell the student some good ways to compose the image. But they press the shutter. Is it their photograph or ours?
We allow leeway and encourage them to direct the model. If they have an idea we’ll sometimes let them change the lighting and the models work with them if they want particular poses or wardrobe or props.
You kind of feel if they just do exactly what we tell them they aren’t the creators of the image. But if they start directing and making changes, then they become the photographer, but how much do they have to change to make it theirs?
Last data point, many high end fashion photographers don’t do their own lighting. They hire a lighting director, just like they hire stylists and makeup artists. But they click the shutter. Of course then everyone from the client to the art director review the image and influence how the next one is taken. So are they the creator?
What do you think?