Nine Types of Photography Tragic


When the bug bites, it bites hard. I am of course talking about the incurable photography bug, the one that if left untreated will turn you into a photography tragic. So what is a photography tragic and what are the symptoms? Put simply, a photo tragic is someone who cannot bypass anything photographic, be it an article online or an advert for the latest lens. Lets have a look at some of the main symptoms.

Camera in Hand – This is a classic sign, the sufferer will have a camera in his hand wherever he goes. Now this is fine if going out to an interesting place on a day trip, but when you are just popping out to the local store for a bottle of milk, it is a little tragic.

Completely Bookmarked – A photo tragic, obviously will spend most of their time taking photos, but in that down time or when the weather is just too bad, they will be online. A typical symptom is a massive collection of photography based bookmarks on their web browser from 500px to eBay’s photography section. There will be nothing else bookmarked at all. 

DXOMark Expertise – Lets be honest, most of us do not know much about DXOMarks, yet a photo tragic will not only know the overall score, but also all the metrics and what camera the lens works best on. Never engage a photo tragic in a conversation about lenses. You will end up growing a beard during the conversations. Even women.
Never engage in DXOMark conversations by mfrissen, on Flickr

The Hoarder – Do you have every piece of equipment that you ever bought? Even if its a lens cap from 1956? Then you are definitely a tragic. Hoarders will keep everything they have owned photographic wise, usually in dusty boxes in the attic. Super tragics however will have had shelves made where their entire collection is on display, like a museum from the 1970’s.
Cannot bear to part with stuff? by OakleyOriginals, on Flickr

The Magazine Room – Moving on from hoarding, another classic example is photographic magazine collection. The typical photo tragic would never be able to part with a single copy of any magazine ever bought. They will have them organized by date and with a cross reference system to find specific subjects. Photographers who have been around the block a bit will have devoted an entire room to the magazine collection. Indeed some have had to buy a bigger house just to fit them in. Fire insurance premiums are particularly high for this type of photo tragic.

The Heavyweight – The heavyweight is so called because he has so much gear hanging around his neck. Even for just a trip to the local park, the heavyweight will deem it necessary to carry multiple cameras, lenses and flashes. None of which are packed in his oversized backpack just in case the shot of a lifetime suddenly appears. Which to be honest, is unlikely in the local park.
Are you a heavyweight? by intermayer, on Flickr

The Widow – The widow is an unfortunate byproduct of the photo tragic. Of course they could be just as easily a widower, but the signs are just the same. They often spend long times at home alone, dusting down the photo printer and looking fondly at photos of their spouse (usually posing with a camera) On the rare times they are allowed out, they are forced to carry huge amounts of equipment in a backpack and a tripod whilst following their spouse at least 10 paces behind.

The Bore – The photographic bore is easy to spot, as he or she is the one who never talks about anything other than photography. They will know, or think they know, everything ever written about the art and will happily divulge that information to the phuggles (non photographic folk) When they have exhausted the supply of adults they will often be seen in the corner of a room explaining the benefits of using a 14mm on landscapes to a four year old.

The Cleaner – In his spare time, when he is not reading, buying or talking about photography, the photo tragic will be cleaning his equipment. Now this is not the simple wipe over with a soft lint free cloth that mere mortals carry out, the tragic will be cleaning every nook, cranny and crevice if his equipment using custom made tools designed to fit. His equipment always looks showroom fresh, not a dust bunny in sight. He will even wash his camera straps and vacuum the inside of his (many) camera bags.
Not that clean! by jeff_golden, on Flickr

So there you have it, nine signs that you may be a photo tragic. If any of these seem familiar, don’t panic, it is not fatal, it will however consume many, many hours of your life, leaving you little time to do the more trivial things in life, like eating, sleeping and spending time with your family.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

Now, Jason, you’ve stopped preaching and started meddling.

One, perhaps two, of those nine “symptoms” don’t apply to me.


Okay, is this list semi-serious, or totally tongue-in-cheek ? Because number 1, “Camera in Hand” is what the best photographers do, IMHO, even if it’s just carrying their cell phone camera. That way you are always ready, if a good photo opportunity arises.

Back in the 80’s I could say I had at least 7 of these symptoms. Then in the 90’s and early 20’s I suddenly didn’t do much photography except with a point and shoot. Now in the last few years I’m redeveloping symptoms. Hoarding does not apply since I only hoard artistic supplies. It doesn’t apply does it? OMG, I have to grab my camera and run to the store.

I have many symptoms, but with chronic health problems and early retirement, what else can I do besides slow walking and a photo every 40-50 feet?

Stare at 4 walls every day?

Spend all day on the computer like other nerds?

Not on your life – I’d rather be out in the fresh air communing with Nature (or some street photography on a shopping trip to the city centre).

Why is it bad having a old camera and equipment collection? From all of what you’ve listed this is the only one I can’t understand?

Having those old equipment and cameras can earn you money too, by displaying them and making a small exhibit.

Why is it considered tragic?

Great article, thank you. I’m a new arrival to photography but can already recognise the symptoms. My partner, who got me into photography, has most of the symptoms, even a box brownie from her childhood (50 years ago). Our local camera club committee is also aware of camera tragics and is taking steps to cure the “disease” by arranging for one club night to be an opportunity to sell excess equipment. While some people may get rid of stuff I’m sure tragics will relish the chance to get more.

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