“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”.
I listened to those words by a grumbling long time photographer that stopped by my shop this past week. As he complained I thought about an article I wrote some time a go entitled “Anyone Can Take a Picture”.
At that time I discussed a young photographer who worried her photographs would not be of any value in this popular, expanding medium and expressed her frustration saying, “Anyone can take a picture”. Her goal as a photographer was to produce images that are personal visual statements of how she felt and hoped her photographs would be viewed as more than just 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 cameras with machine-gun-like shutters and seemingly speed-of-light focusing allow some photographers to survive without any knowledge whatsoever of what once was the studied art 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 even obliged to carry more than one camera if they wanted the resulting photographs to be in both color and black and white.
The photographer in my shop was on a roll, and continued with, “All this digital isn’t real photography”.
I smiled to myself and doubted that he remembered 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 (or personal visual statements) as much as they were interested in an efficient medium to document the world around them. Gosh it must have been a chore convincing some person to sit as still as possible for long time periods. And setting up unwieldy photographic equipment on some cold mountaintop to photograph the view would have been a painful experience. I doubt that many modern photographers would ever have bothered with 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 their 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, such as the fellow in my shop, should be celebrate the successes instead of finding fault with someone that has embraced modern digital technology.
I remember looking forward to seeing photographs made by that young photographer that mused about, “Anyone being able to take pictures”. My advice to her was to use and embrace all the exciting technological advancements (because photography has always been about technology) that she can find as she strives to make her photographs more than just a document.
I hoped she would work hard producing images that would be technically perfect statements about what she feels or wants to say. There are many photographers, myself included, who are interested in the resulting photos as long as they aren’t boring, have some endurance, something to say and are is visually exciting.
These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment. Don’t hesitate to call me at 250-371-3069.