Friday, October 19, 2012

You must have a really good camera!

"Those are great photos. You must have a really good camera!"


As frustrating as it is, that is the current mentality of most of today's photo consumers. But before you go and unload a couple of rounds into their skull stop and think about why we are experiencing this mindset.

Before dismissing the commentator as some brain-dead ignoramus who can't tell good art from bad let us analyze the problem. In my opinion it is not (entirely) because they are slow of thought it is because they have been conditioned with that response. This conditioning comes from two areas; technical advancement and advertising hype built around our current social environment.

With the proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras, cell phone cameras and similar disposable image creators, photography has become commonplace. Everyone with a camera is a photographer. That's right, I said it. The basic definition of a photographer is someone who captures an image with a camera regardless of whether it is artistically or technically good. All they have to do is press a button. Someone who makes their living from taking pictures is a professional photographer. Let's also not forget the photographic artist. They may not make a living with their camera but they sure can make gorgeous prints. There is where the distinctions are made... by us. For them, they are pressing a button just like we do.

With this exponential growth in image capture we are constantly bombarded with photos and videos of friends doing stupid stunts, cats playing pianos, babies making funny faces and (ugh!) self portraits in a bathroom mirror. Then there are the countless inspirational quotes plastered over an image to help spread the word... All this in part to social media. Bad photography is everywhere. But again, the conception is that it's just a press of the button.

Camera manufacturers are in their glory.

I do have to give them credit for creating easy to use, feature rich, smart cameras. Most point and shoot cameras are so advanced all you really do need to have is the ability to press a button. They do all the rest. That is how they market them and that's what people expect from them. However, they are also applying the same marketing to the more complex dSLR cameras previously reserved for pros. They are not easy to use. You can't just point and click and get the same results of a point and shoot (arguably) although they'll say you can. I think the reason for the marketing hype is because the dSLR market is a richer market for camera manufacturers.

Think about not only the cost of a dSLR but also all the accessories for them. Point and shoot cameras don't have all those nice accessories. You buy one camera and that's it. The money stops. Buy a dSLR and you'll need lenses, flash, tripod, filters, etc., etc. and so forth. Don't worry about explaining all that to the poor unwary consumer. They'll figure it out for themselves, sooner or later. Preferably later, after they've spent their hundreds of dollars. That mentality is also what drives the megapixel race.

So with all these great camera gadgets in the hands of hundreds of thousands of people all taking and sharing their (bad) photos with the world we have an over abundance of (bad) imagery. Unfortunately most of them are mundane snapshots. When someone who knows how to really use a camera comes along the default answer is, "you must have a (more) expensive camera," than mine since I also have a camera but my pictures don't come out like that... and I press the button just like you do...


1 comment:

  1. This article sounds vaguely familiar. Sometimes it works the other way too... I've found myself judging "professions" photographers by the gear they have. For example, my sister-in-law is getting married today. They are dressing at my place. She's paying 5K for the photographer and I was just thinking, they better be using a full-frame camera.

    I'll be taking pictures along side them at my house - but since my wife is the matron of honor, I'm going to be too busy with my three-year-old at the wedding; so my camera is staying home.


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