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The “F@&$ Yeah!” Moment

May 5, 2010

Over the past few days, I’ve been doing some research into digital photography as part of a larger work project. Not the usual settings or techniques that inform content development, but photographers themselves. And while the research is still in its early stages, I’ve already uncovered three general types of digital photographer:

  • The Casual Photographer – Casual photographers make up the vast majority of digital camera owners. They primarily own point-and-shoot cameras, don’t particularly care about settings, and see photography as a means of preserving memories. Or, as I put it in another post, “they just want to capture that time they went to that place and did that thing”.
  • The Professional – The professional photographer uses photography to earn a living or supplement their income. While this group purchases a lot of high ticket items and generally drives innovation in the category, they make up a small fraction of digital camera owners.
  • The Amateur Enthusiast/Prosumer – This group has taken up digital photography as a hobby. They take pictures to preserve memories, but they also use photography as an outlet for creative expression. They’re more likely to own a higher-end point-and-shoot, EVIL, or DSLR camera, spend more on lenses, edit photos on their computer, and experiment with different settings and techniques.

Of course, these are broad categories, and there are gradations within each. For instance, I would classify myself and Mrs. Doogs as enthusiasts, even though we’re clearly at different ends of the enthusiast spectrum.

Mind the Gap

But what I find really interesting, and what I want to explore a bit, is the gap between casual and enthusiast photographers. Namely, what pushes people over that gap?

In my case, I’ve been in the enthusiast camp for so long that I don’t really remember. Hell, one of the reasons I gravitated toward photography in the first place was its potential as a creative outlet. I mean, I can’t draw, can’t paint, can’t sculpt, and I have zero musical ability. But I have a pretty good eye for things, and photography let me take advantage of it.

Mrs. Doogs has a different take. According to her, she crossed that gap when she realized that she could take some really great pictures. And once she realized that, there was no going back.

The F@&$ Yeah! Moment

Mrs. Doogs’ experience reminds me of something io9 calls the “F@&$ Yeah!” moment. In their case, it refers to that moment in a narrative when a character does something awesome – something that makes you go “f@&$ yeah!” and throw your sentiments behind them. Think Ripley in Aliens when she emerges in the load lifter and utters her classic “get away from her you BITCH!”.

The thing is, we don’t experience too many “F@&$ Yeah!” moments in our day-to-day lives, and I think when we do, they have a way of sparking our passion for a certain pursuit, and pushing us across that gap from the casual to the enthusiast.

Obviously, many hobbies require time and effort in order to gain a level of proficiency. You can’t just up and take awesome pictures, hit par on every hole, strip down an axle, or design a web page, but I think that maybe that initial “F@&$ Yeah!” moment, that initial thrill of success, of the realization that we might be good at something, can be a powerful motivator that sets us down that path.

Thinking back on my other hobbies…writing, cars, history, model building and the like…I can certainly identify those moments that got me hooked, way back before I really had any idea what I was doing.

What about you? Have any of your hobbies been sparked by a “F@&$ Yeah!” moment? If so, I’d love to hear about them. If not, I’d equally love to hear why I’m full of it!

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