amateur |ˈamətər, -ˌtər, -ˌCHo͝or, -CHər|
a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French, from Italian amatore, from Latin amator ‘lover,’ from amare ‘to love.’
The term amateur has both positive and negative connotations. When it comes to photography I love being an amateur, and I love it precisely because of the origins of the term: I get to photograph what I love.
While on the way back to my hotel in Yellowstone, I came across a bunch of photographers pulled off to the side of the road to photograph a herd of elk. I took a variety of pictures and was about to wrap up when I noticed a young elk bull down a ways from where everyone else was. I walked down to him and realized why no one else was photographing him: his antlers were stunted.
I have a soft spot for animals who have more to overcome, so I settled in to spend the rest of the dying light photographing him.
Whether due to diet or disease or genetics, the poor thing wasn’t exactly photogenic compared not only to the dominant bull but even to the other young bulls in the herd. He was mostly grazing but occasionally raised his head and sniffed the air, so I positioned my tripod so that if he raised his head again, his face would be set against the strip of yellow plants behind him. And not only did he raise his head again, but as if on cue he even looked right at me.
You’re beautiful to me, little one.