[B][FONT=Arial][SIZE=4]Just what is a young photographer and do we overlook them?[/SIZE][/FONT][/B]

As a father of two mid-teen girls, with one showing an interesting in doing photography as part of her pre-University studies, and with a friend whose son is already embarking on a course that could see him studying photography after he leaves school, the topic of youngsters and photography is an increasingly discussed one here. We have even wondered if a special section on DPNow.com here should be dedicated to young photographers.

My daughter is artistically-minded and is already discovering abstract photography while my mate's son has already demonstrated some serious talent in the area of wildlife photography. In my teens the school darkroom was my favourite place, experimenting with black and white and, later, colour developing and printing. It was fairly exclusive and I would guess only about 5% of my peers at school were enthusiastic enough to embrace photography beyond the odd family photo snap.

Today, of course, practically everyone has a camera in their smartphone and even those who would not claim to be seriously 'into' photography take pictures to amuse their friends and to embellish their social networking sites.

I personally view photography as a playing-field leveller when it comes to age. It hardly matters, once you have a enough knowledge and a modicum of talent, how old or young you are, in order to take interesting and attractive photographs in most genres. Perhaps a very young photographer should wait a few years before tackling glamour work, but how would you tell how old a photographer was behind the camera that tales macro, abstract, wildlife, action, street and many other types of photography? There is probably a similar debate when it comes to painting or other creative art crafts.

One distinct advantage that older photographers have is that they can generally afford better equipment. But, as is so often debated, if you have talent then older and cheaper camera gear shouldn't really hold you back. We have certainly seen some very talented young photographers post attractive photos here on the DPNow.com forum and in the [URL="http://dpnow.com/galleries"]galleries[/URL] - often using very basic cameras.

In recent years age has been a problem for photographers because society has developed in such a way that is increasingly difficult to photograph young people, especially children, because of paranoia surrounding child-abuse. It's much easier for a youngster to photograph other young people than for an adult; parents are less sensitive and you will be photographing your friends and their siblings. It could be that we will have to rely on our kids to make a vital photographic record of - our kids' generation.

Photography as a career is a very difficult ambition to fulfil for young people. Commercial photographer is now probably a smaller industry by value than it was ten years ago because professional photographers' incomes have been eroded by DIY amateurs. The classic example is in wedding photography. Booking a wedding photographer used to be top of the list if tasks when planning a wedding, but it's not the case any more, with many couples content to rely on their guests' snaps. It's no longer a lucrative career path for young photographers.

Nevertheless, young photographers can really enjoy their photography today; their images appear by the billions via online social media sites, image messaging services, and their is no shortage of tools to enhance creativity. While some of us older 'dudes' look back nostalgically on our days shooting transparency film or in the darkroom printing black and white, we should not forget that in a sense we are in the middle of a golden age for photographer and young photographers are continually pushing their photographic boundaries.