In a day and age when anyone with an iPhone or a Flickr account can call themselves a photographer, it can be a little difficult to figure out when you’ve separated yourself from the pack to become a real photographer. After all, beauty — in photographs as in all things — is in the eye of the beholder.
But here are 21 clues that you’ve crossed the threshold from pretender to contender:
1. Your friends have begun to hand you their cameras at social gatherings when they want a good picture taken.
2. You don’t run out of battery power because you are chimping less.
3. Your kids have stopped fussing about being photographed because you work faster.
4. The salesman at your favorite camera store lets you handle the merchandise usually kept locked in the shiny glass display cases.
5. You understand the difference between bokeh and a flower arrangement.
6. A gorgeous woman with a digital SLR brushes by you — and you only notice her camera and what kind of lens she has.
7. You concentrate on the lighting instead of the undergarment when you photograph backlit subjects.
8. You snicker at the folks in the back row at the concert shooting with an iPhone or a point-and-shoot.
9. Photo lab workers ask you to complete paperwork to verify that you own the copyright to the pictures you bring in.
10. Your in-law who’s a pro shares fewer and fewer tips with you.
11. Other photographers follow you to see where you’re shooting from.
12. Other photographers ask your opinion about gear when they see you at camera stores.
13. You realize how inaccurately Hollywood portrays the photographer’s job in the movies.
14. More and more engaged women want to be your friend.
15. You stop asking what aperture and shutter speed was used to take a picture.
16. Fewer people make fun of your torn, tattered but ubiquitous photo vest.
17. The subjects in your group pictures no longer resemble the hapless victims of a firing squad (everyone against the wall).
18. You are unashamed to carry a point-and-shoot — even at events crawling with other photographers.
19. Before you allow yourself to be impressed by that long telephoto, you want to know its widest aperture and whether it has image stabilization.
20. Your spouse stops asking what FedEx or UPS delivered.
21. You realize overexposure has to do with how you meter instead of how many Twitter followers you have.