The Great Divide: Casual Snappers vs Intentional Photographers

It’s been an odd couple of weeks.

I teach iPhone photography classes through a reputable, quite large, local, retail Camera store.

Plus, through them, do one-on-one consultings all related to iPhone photography.

I recently had a 70+ female client wanting to expressly know how to make her lips fuller, her teeth white, and her skin wrinkle-free in selfies.

To her, photography was cosmetology.

I had another baby-boomer gentleman ask me how to create and share short videos, with music, filters, stickers, and other effects, for his newly formed TikTok presence. To this person, photography was a form of entertainment
To round out my consulting efforts, I had still, another guy, ask me what LED flash to use, on his iPhone camera, to more clearly document around-the-house and everyday receipts, contracts, letters, family memorabilia, and writings. This dude used photography as a form of documentation.

No judgment.

Sometimes I feel a bit like Michael Jordan, attempting to teach his NBA best practices to elementary school gym classes, learning to dribble.

The divide between the casual consumer snapper of today and the photographic hobbyists, even experts, is huge.

As a professional photographer who has spent over 30 years in the field, I have witnessed the evolution of photography from analog to digital, and from dedicated cameras to phone cameras.

I have also observed the emergence of two distinct types of photographers: casual snappers and intentional photographers.

Casual snappers are those who take photos mainly for fun, convenience, or social purposes. They use their phone cameras or other simple devices to capture moments and memories, without much planning or preparation. They may not have a clear artistic vision or style, and they may not care much about the technical aspects of photography, such as exposure, composition, or editing. They enjoy sharing their photos with others online or through messaging apps, and they may not seek feedback or improvement.

Intentional photographers are those who take photos with a purpose, a goal, or a message. They use their phone cameras or other professional equipment to create art and express themselves, with a lot of thought and care. They have a distinct artistic vision and style, and they pay attention to the technical aspects of photography, such as exposure, composition, and editing. They seek to improve their skills and knowledge, and they may participate in contests, exhibitions, or publications.

The gap between these two groups is wider and broader than most people realize. It is not just a matter of preference or taste, but a matter of attitude and approach. It is not just a matter of quantity or quality but of meaning and value. It is not just a matter of tools or techniques, but a matter of vision and expression.
I am an intentional photographer, and I am proud of what I do and how I do it. I do not mean to belittle or criticize casual snappers, as I respect their choices and enjoyment. I do not claim to be superior or inferior to them, as I acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses. I do not intend to exclude or isolate them, as I welcome their participation and contribution.

But I do want to share my perspective and passion with them, as I believe that photography is more than just taking pictures. It is a way of seeing the world, a way of communicating with others, a way of creating something meaningful and beautiful. It is a way of living fully and authentically.

I do not expect casual snappers to become intentional photographers overnight, as I know it takes time and effort to develop one’s craft and identity. However, I do hope that they will be curious and open-minded enough to explore the possibilities and potentials of photography beyond their comfort zones. I do hope that they will be inspired and motivated enough to challenge themselves and grow as photographers.

I do not want to create a divide between casual snappers and intentional photographers, as I think that we can learn from each other and enrich each other’s experiences. But I do want to bridge the gap between them, as I think that we can share a common love and respect for photography as an art form and a medium.

That is why I write this post as a manifesto, a declaration of my beliefs and values as an intentional photographer. That is why I invite you to join me in this journey of discovery and expression through photography. That is why I ask you: Are you a casual snapper or an intentional photographer?



Jack Hollingsworth