One man’s insult is another man’s praise.
If someone calls you an amateur videographer, do you thank him or bop him, shake hands or slap your gloves across his face?
We sometimes hear asked about Videomaker, "Is that a magazine for amateurs?" When spoken by some professionals, this phrase cavils us with its condescension, smacks us with its sneering scorn. Off come the gloves.
Let us stop and count to ten, however, because the appellation holds as much honor as opprobrium, maybe more. Before bopping, consider Hale-Bopp, the comet that graced our skies early this spring. Discovered by a couple of amateurs, it was. Hale and Bopp are not professional astronomers.
What about Aleksandr Porfirevich Borodin, the Russian composer, member of the Mighty Five, writer of the opera Prince Igor? Yesm, he was a chemist by profession. Musical composition was just a hobby for him. Borodin stands as a beacon to amateur videographers anyway. Think about it: if he could admit in public that he threw himself into the tedious, detailed, multilevel complexities of orchestral composition for fun, then amateur video editors are not freaks–or, at least, we are in good company. We find ourselves standing also in the eminent, though surreal company of Franz Kafka, accountant by profession, novelist by avocation.
Searching for the value of amateurs, one need look no further than the Olympic games. These international athletic competitions were kindled in the mid-19th century as contests for amateurs. They were modeled on the ancient Greek contests, also not games for paid discus throwers. Though a professional element has since moved in, the history of the Olympics nevertheless reveals that amateur athletes have long been among the best in the world.
Let us not confuse video amateurs with camera-carrying dilettants, those occasional dabblers in electronic weaving. Neither are dilettants to be sneered at; many a good amateur started out by dabbling. Nevertheless, while a dilettant, he is just not so committed. When the passion kicks in, thats when he becomes an amateur.
Amateurs are, after all, people who pursue an endeavor only because they love it. The very word, "amateur" is rooted in the Latin word for lover, amator. Such do not shoot and edit for financial gain; that is the motivation of the mere professionals. Now this would be a good response from the amateur to that sneering professional: "Our practice of the video craft is not tainted by a desire for filthy lucre, unlike yours, ye slavish sycophant of used car dealers and other peoples weddings!"
Hobbyist videographers: keep your gloves on, earn the badge "amateur" and wear it with pride. Your achievements will lend honor to the word. Why should the shots of Americas Funniest pratfalls and George Hollidays shot of Rodney King be the images that come to mind when someone says, "Amateur video?" A passionate amateur could be making the Prince Igor of videos even as we speak.
To the pros whinnying among us: take heart. So long as we retain the zeal of our first love for the art no-one can say were jaded by all the video dollars weve made. Our answer is that we remain in touch with our inner amateur.
By the way, send your best into our video contest today.
Stephen Muratore is Videomaker‘s Editor in Chief.