A photography enthusiast is just a hobbyist on steroids! It is someone whose hobby really has become a passion. These are some of the traits that I think an enthusiast has. By this time they have a really good understanding of the basic fundamentals of photography – exposure, composition and lighting. They most certainly shoot in Manual mode most of the the time and experiment with different creative exposures. They may sometimes shoot in one of the semi-automatic modes such as Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority but they do so with a specific purpose and a clear understanding of these modes and their limitations. (I know some of you will disagree with me on that but that is fine.) They have a good understanding of their cameras and lenses. They probably own at least two or three lenses that they use for various types of photography. They have a really good understanding of the technical side of photography. They probably belong to a number groups on Facebook and follow quite a few photographers on You Tube. They understand the photography involves life long learning and they are constantly looking for sources that will help them improve their craft. They start looking at the work of other photographers and begin to try to reverse engineer the photos and figure how the results were achieved. They set goals for their photography and their photography education and they practice, practice and practice some more. They start looking for criticism and review of their work. They submit to online groups and maybe even submit for contests. Most will post their work to a photo dedicated site such as 500px or Flickr. They start looking at the world around them in a different way (this is one of the sure fire signs that you have become an enthusiast). They frame photos in their minds and look for that special light, they develop what I like to call a photographer’s eye and photographer’s mind. (See books by Michael Freeman for more on these terms.) They most often have a camera nearby to capture something that most people might take for granted. They begin to view photography as a craft and a form of art. They start to use post-processing Lightroom, Photoshop or software to process their photos and understand the role that post-processing plays in the creative process. And basically even more important is that they are starting to really understand that photography is a creative process. They begin to look at others’ work with a more critical eye. (Of course that can be a good thing or a bad thing. Just think of some of the mean reviews you have seen on photography sites.) For the enthusiast then photography has become an integral, important part of their lives. And for the enthusiast the step to Photo Maker is somewhat inevitable. We will take a look the Photo Maker in the next post.