I met a young creative photographer that is working hard to make sure his photographs stand out amongst the legions of picture-takers in this popular and expanding medium. He leaned on my counter and gestured into space as he made that seemingly painful statement to me. “It no longer matters if a person knows anything about photography, anyone can take a picture”
His goal is to produce images that are visual statements of how he feels about the subjects he photographs. He has studied and studied and wants his work to be seen as more than just documents of the world around him.
The medium of photography has become very accessible for everyone. The days when most serious photographers actually went to school to learn about photography and had to be an engineer and chemist are long gone.
With today’s supercharged and computerized cameras many photographers get away without any knowledge whatsoever of photography.
Historically, photographers had to understand the combinations of shutter and aperture for a properly exposed image, and worried about camera shake and film choice. Photographers would carry more than one camera because they wanted the resulting photographs to be in both color and black and white.
One must remember that a few short generations ago photography 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 actually interested in photography as a creative medium as much as a way to document reality of their unknown world.
Whether trying to convince some person to sit as still as possible for long time periods or setting up unwieldy photographic equipment on a cold mountaintop to photograph the view, photography was once a challenge that most of today’s photographers would shy away from.
There are those that are intent on complaining that with the end of film comes the end of photography. Personally, I don’t think film is going away any time soon. (Film is just one way to make a photograph.) The big box outlets may not carry it much longer, but there are lots of specialty items artists use that are only available in specialty stores, and I think film is still available at some small shops. However, the chances of getting the correct advice from the person behind the counter doesn’t seem likely.
Yes, anyone can take a picture nowadays. That’s a good thing and not something to complain about. There are lots of good photographs being taken and although most of them fall into the category of documentary or snapshot photography. People want visual memories of their world and the many camera incarnations are perfect for that.
I look forward to seeing more photographs made by that young photographer and others like him. My advice to him would be to embrace all the exciting technological advancements he comes across as he strives to make his photographs stand out in. After all photography has always been about technology.
I am sure he will work at producing images that will be technically perfect visual statements about what he feels or wants to say.
There are many, myself included, who are interested in the viewing good photographs. It doesn’t matter how the image is produced as long as the final photograph has something to say and is visually exciting!
That critical comment “anyone can take a picture” shouldn’t make any of us worry as we look forward to the future of this exciting medium.