Words have meaning.
The words we use to describe ourselves will impact how others perceive what we do and the value they place on our work. Traditionally a photographer was usually known as a photographer. One might choose to be identified by a specialty… a photojournalist or a portraitist, for example. The broader term of visual artist might have been used.
As the role of many photographers has shifted in the last ten years, we often find ourselves producing work that might be used beyond traditional purposes. It might not be hung on a wall or end up in a catalog. It could end up online, included with educational materials, or be shared a visual social media.
At the same time the world of photography for online purposes is evolving, there are other folks creating things such as short form video (YouTube), audio (podcasts or music), or writing (online publication or books). And a word has entered more common usage over the last few years to describe the broader group of people that engage in these activities.
Creators. Someone who creates things.
What does it mean to be a creator vs. a photographer?
Creators might create photos, or video, or essays, or books, or films, or courses, or… the list goes on.
I my head, all photographers are creators. But there are plenty of creators who are not photographers.
For those of use whose primary creations have been photos, how should we refer to ourselves in this changing world? Do we continue to identify as photographers, or do we identify as creators?
My language is shifting, although it depends on the audience. Many modern photography opportunities are going to be more accessible to someone whose skills extend beyond still photography, and those who can talk about themselves as multimedia creators will be able to engage in conversations with companies and others interested in those whose focus is less on image capture and is more on creation of media with a purpose.
On a slight sidebar, recently Marshall Kirkpatrick observed that some influencers are now referring to themselves as creators and while that’s true, I don’t think the terms are synonymous. There are many influencers who don’t create much and are mainly a personality, and there are also plenty of creators who don’t have much measurable impact on mind or market share.
Consider Your Craft and Choose Your Place
Photography is a subset of the creator world. It’s up to each of us to decide whether we remain in that subset, or expand our reach, and our words, to encompass a broader set of skills that is increasingly in demand. While there may be some who can remain narrowly focused on traditional photography (especially in the retail genres of the industry), those working with businesses will find themselves increasingly in demand and marketable if our skillset, and our labels, reflect that we’re able to create things of value beyond traditional still photography. Photographer or creator? Both, and…