“Anyone can take a picture with a digital camera. There are even people calling themselves professionals who are not much more than point-and-shooters”.
That complaint has become all too common these days and I listened to those words again as they were voiced to me by a grumbling long time photographer last week. As he whined I thought about an article I wrote about a year a go entitled “Anyone Can Take a Picture”.
At that time I discussed a young photographer who worried his photographs would not be of any value in this popular, expanding medium and expressed his frustration saying, “Anyone can take a picture”. His goal as a photographer was to produce images that are personal, visual statements of how he felt and hoped are more than just a documentary.
The medium of photography has become very accessible for everyone. The days when a photographer had to be an engineer and chemist are long gone. With modern technology, today’s supercharged camera, with machine-gun-like shutters, and seemingly speed-of-light focusing, many photographers can survive without any knowledge whatsoever of photography. At one time photographers actually had to understand the combinations of shutter and aperture for a properly exposed image, and worried about camera shake, and film choice. Photographers were obliged to carry more than one camera if they wanted the resulting photographs to be in both color, and black and white.
When that photographer continued with his gripe, “all this digital isn’t real photography”, I knew he wouldn’t remember that photography once needed large glass plates, hazardous chemicals, bulky cameras, and wagons to carry everything.
I am not sure that the photographers of the late 1800’s or early 1900’s were interested in photography as a creative medium as much as they were interested in an efficient medium to document reality, whether it was convincing some person to sit as still as possible for long time periods or setting up unwieldy photographic equipment on a cold mountain top to photograph the view and I am sure many photographers that loved the advancements since then would have tried photography if it had remained like that.
Yes, anyone can take a picture nowadays. However, many modern photographers that lack the technical skill make up for it with an intuitive ability to connect with their subjects. That’s a good thing and not something to complain about. There are lots of excellent photographs being taken and those dedicated to this growing medium should celebrate their successes instead of finding fault with someone that has embraced digital technology and can make it perform.
I look forward to seeing photographs made by that young photographer that mused about “anyone being able to take pictures”. My advice to him was to use all the exciting technological advancements (because photography has always been about technology) he can find as he strives to make his photographs more than just a document. He will work hard producing images that will be technically perfect visual statements about what he feels or wants to say. There are many photographers, myself included, who are interested in the resulting photos no matter how the image is produced as long as the final photograph has something to say and is visually exciting!
And as far as that complaint about, “people calling themselves professionals who are not much more than point-and-shooters” all I can say is we should leave that up to how their clients feel about their photography.
I welcome your comments. Thanks.
My website is at www.enmanscamera.com