It’s a crazy time for me to have chosen to pursue photography. Everyone – plus their dog, their eight-year-old daughter, and the daughter’s dog – calls himself a photographer or “is” one. There are literally billions – billions! – of photographs out there, and probably billions more by the time you’ve finished reading this post.
What’s the big deal about taking a picture, anyway?
A feature of the professional photographer used to be mastery of really difficult and intractable technical problems using arcane technology: cumbersome camera bodies, quirky lenses, imperfect tools, chemicals, unpredictable processes. This was A Man’s Job, and you can hear echos of this macho attitude whenever a bona fide Photo Geezer (costume: Tilley hat and camera bodies ; war cry: Real Men Shoot Landscapes!) begins wheezing on about how photography is going down the tubes, that there’s no professionalism anymore, and that young folks today….blah blah blah.
Now? All is predictable. With the digital revolution, the only measure of progress is to shoot faster, sharper, easier and in greater quantity. Kids and novices can, supposedly, shoot perfect pics with one swift, intuitive click.
That is, if they bother to read the instructions. Have YOU read all 300-odd pages of your camera’s manual?
I will make an assumption that seems reasonable: there are more people seriously interested in photography these days, now that digital has removed the necessity for the chemical darkroom and has smoothed out most technical challenges.
And this for sure means more people wanting to earn a living at photography, which means more competition, and, at least for “commodity photography” like headshots, ultimately lower pricing.
This is what riles the Photo Geezers: they’re like, say, factory assembly line workers who are being replaced by automation. It hurts.
But when we get into the area of ART, all bets are off. When we’re talking about art, we’re no longer really talking about business, and the camera becomes transparent – just a tool for creating the artwork. I’m not concerned with how perfect my pictures are, I’m concerned with what I want to say.