A recent post by Jeff Guayer at DY Photography raised some interesting questions about technology and its impact on photography. Namely what defines a photographer? What separates a photographer from an enthusiast? Is it possible to be a photographer if you only use a smart phone?
It used to be a fairly simple task at big events like concerts to separate the photographer from the fan, what with equipment requiring serious expenditure and learning the tricks of the trade requiring serious study. But nowadays technology offers many short cuts, like filters, and Photoshop has a fan base that stretches beyond industry professionals with many people self-teaching. No-budget film-making isn’t confined to looking shoddy and most major news stories are embellished with on the ground snaps, or reader submitted content. Guayer started asking questions on what photography is after a chance encounter with a hipster calling himself an instagram wedding photographer. In Guayer’s words.
“Kevin’s” two iPhones are the only cameras he owns. He’s never touched a DSLR. He’s never shot a roll of film. Doesn’t know what a light meter is or what it does. He does have a point-and-shoot (“A Canon or Nikon something or other,”) but feels that it’s just too complicated and slows him down. I’m sitting there, trying like hell not to judge, but I just can’t help myself.
Guayer’s post is interesting because it shows in one conversation how the profession is changing. With the WPP this year forbidding digital manipulation of images and camera companies looking to combat the rise of smart phones over compacts it is an interesting moment to have this conversation. One of the exciting things about technology is the way it has served as a social force, revolutionizing and democratizing everything from news to film and photography.
Once prohibitive costs kept the opportunity to produce films or high quality stills out of most people’s range. It is good then that the barriers to taking up the profession, or pastime, are a lot lower but has that also served to lower the aesthetic quality of pictures that bombards us everyday. Conversely with computers, smart phones and tablets engaging our attention for most of the day our eye consumes a lot more images and photos than we would if we were reading a newspaper.
Perhaps in response to this I recently noticed that the hashtag #nofilter was becoming a popular trend on my facebook, it could be a way to rub in how naturally amazing their holiday snaps are. It could also be because the impact of virtual features and the ability to instantly inject sepia tones into a photo is degrading our sense of visual appreciation. The #nofilter being a push back against this by celebrating the lack of manipulation. To the general population tweaking effects on Photoshop or through white-balancing correctly has little difference but done to such an incessant extent now might be the moment in time where Instagram has left viewers jaded.
In the world of my facebook timelines it seems some are beginning to tire of the manufactured nature of app photography wanting the real image instead. I’ve never been a fan of instagram for this very reason as it seems to distort how we live our lives standardizing the photos in an attempt to make them better or more colorful. After all in my opinion faking it after the events is never as good as capturing the colors of the sun rising properly at the time.
What do you think?