Too Many Photographers

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by thebassman, May 24, 2004.

  1. thebassman

    thebassman Member

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    With every cell phone around these days with cameras attached to them (with more and higher quality ones to come), and the drop in price (and increase in features and convenience) of digital photography, are people worried that there will soon be an "unfavorable" ratio of amateur to professional photographers? Will these changes coupled with an increasing ease to take good photographs have a negative impact on professional photographers? Or is the fact that more and more people are into photography a good thing for the professional photographer?
     
  2. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I have never felt that poor quality mom and pop snapshots have taken away from my commercial or art photography, only reinforced the quality of it.
     
  3. thebassman

    thebassman Member

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    But with access to decent digital cameras, for instance, like the Nikon 5700, amateur photographers can produce some decent looking shots... Do you not feel that those people are putting negative pressure on professional photographers, or is that a good thing... to force us to continually improve and make ourselves better?
     
  4. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    decent for what? For snap shots, etc. Sure the digital phones and low end cameras are great, for paying jobs the equipment is far out of the reach of most people. As I said in another thread, I recently had the opportunity to see some awesome piezo prints as well as some very good color ink jet prints. When I inquired about the cost of the equipment I was amazed at the price tag. If the final goal is prints for sale then digital has a long way to go. If the goal is a digital file for publication then digital rules, but then the files required for this are only available in the high end cameras. Sorry but I am sure as hell not paying $10,000 for one of the new digital slrs
     
  5. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I think most people on this board are after something a tad better than "decent"
     
  6. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    No, I never worry about that.

    It's NOT about the camera. Is great cooking the direct result of buying the most expensive pans? Does buying an expensive piano/keyboard make me a great pianist?

    It's NOT about the camera. It's about the person behind it: their eye, their sensibilities, their ability to communicate. Their experiences and their willingness / ability to see what other people don't.

    If it was about the camera, those poor 'masters of photography' would have been forgotten long ago with the launch of the latest-and-greatest, feature-laden cameras. Those features are generally great for those who are happy letting the camera think for them. I can't see how that relates to getting better images?
     
  7. thebassman

    thebassman Member

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    Obviously digital cameras have a ways to go... but they are getting there, and they're getting cheaper and more accessable. Do you disagree?
     
  8. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    I think the increased interest in 'imagery' that has come about with the increasing availability of cheap equipment is good for the industry. Sure we'll see more bad images out there for a while, but don't forget digital is in its infancy at the moment and as such people are making allowances for the plethora of poor quality images around. This will change.

    Cheryl is so right. As the equipment comes up to speed with the capabilities of film (and that may or may not be a long way off - doesn't matter) then the punter will learn the true realization that good photography is not about the equipment. Then there should be fewer people around thinking "I could have taken that, if only I had that camera". This is all good.
     
  9. thebassman

    thebassman Member

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    Great post, John... well thought out. I feel the same way, myself. Then there should be fewer people around thinking "I could have taken that, if only I had that camera".
    Exactly... A lot of people think this is the beginning of the end for a lot of professional photographers, but I prefer to think of it more as a transitional period for us. Sure, for the next little while, there will be more people that use Uncle Jim to take some shots, but they always come running back to the real thing. :wink:
     
  10. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    IMO this is no longer true. We have been hearing this for the last 8 to 10 years, back then it might have been true, but no longer. Although the equipment is still too expensive compared to analog, the quality is there already. I suspect people doing crappy work in digital were doing crappy work with analog and got conned into digital because it was "easier" or had more "control"...:smile:
     
  11. livemoa

    livemoa Member

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    The most important part of any camera (and the resulting photograph) usually sits about 2-4 inches behind the viewfinder, or groundglass, or whatever.

    The best photographer I know is a local guy who uses an old Speed Graphic which is held together by tape and luck. One day I will do work as good as his with my more modern gear.
     
  12. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    I agree with Cheryl... It's not about the camera. You can take 20 people to a spot and tell each one to take at least one shot of say...a bridge. You will end up with 'snapshots' and 'photographic art'.

    It's as David says... "The most important part of any camera (and the resulting photograph) usually sits about 2-4 inches behind the viewfinder, or groundglass, or whatever. "

    Jeanette
     
  13. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

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    It ain't the iron in the hand, it's the steel in the photographer.

    snapshots, even if they're taken with high-end equipment bought by an uncle joe, are an entirely different animal than photographs taken by an amateur or pro shooter.

    Personally, I wish all the snapshots out there or images taken by 'uncommitted photogs' (I'd hate to say amateur, because I'm using that to mean someone who does it for the love of it) were with a Pentax K1000 or an old Canon with an FD lens. With hour processing, and about half the hour labs being able to deliver moderately decent CDs, I fail to see any good reason for the family digicam. I feel like I ought to keep a trunkload of low-end film SLRs and every time I see someone hold their digicam LCD viewfinder a foot from their face and stand there mashing the shutter release for ten seconds, blowing to hell any remote chance of getting the [size=-1]decisive moment, I should just trade them the SLR and a bucket of film for their digicam paperweight. I've ranted about this before, though. The pendulum is swinging back toward film, so I'm not worried about it.

    At best, snapshots are a useful memory jog in the family album and a way to cultivate an interest in actual photography. At worst, though, most of the photographs taken with all these new toys will be viewed for a few seconds on the camera back, stuck on a CD and never seen again, living a lifespan even shorter than your average web page.

    Not that I think I'm the equiv, but I'm no more intimidated by the profusion of cameras and snapshotting than a three or four star chef would be by tv dinners.

    -KwM-
    [/size]
     
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  15. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    I think most of the fallout has already happened with the advent of autofocus 35mm slrs with good ttl flash. this occured years ago and color processing got better around the same time. this was the death knell for the APS system. people produce much better snapshot/family/vacation pictures than ever before.
    the real impact is going to be the coupling of the world wide web (distribution) with cell phone pictures (product). It's going to be interesting in a spontaneous glut kind of way... Maybe photojournalists should be more worried?
     
  16. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    Maybe. I just returned from my nephew's wedding where 9 out of 10 had some form of gigital "camera". I have been flooded with "results" by email. One stated, "A historic photo...." When I ask for a print, I got, "What for?"

    Sort of says it all, doesn't it? However at the local art gallery, upon seeing some really good photographic art (some digital based) the almost universal statement is. "Why can't I make photographs like these?" I try to encourage them to take a class, but the general idea seems to be, "What for? I get all I need from 'the web'." et c.

    Professionals don't have anything to worry about except where's the film?
     
  17. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    Sounds like some of my students when they come to my "darkroom"/laundry room for the first time. " This is where you make the prize-winning prints?" Vis a vis: Omega DII (not "2") - trays on bench - the usual sink. No camera using a battery - Works for me.
     
  18. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    The obvious challenge, as ever: make your ideas better.

    BTW, the most culturally-influential photos of the past several months were almost all made with cheap digi's.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/23/magazine/23PRISONS.html

    Publishers see the writing on the wall -- hence the incredibly egregious contracts being issued these days by pubs like the New York Times.
     
  19. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

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    The Iraq prison photos have no more to do with photojournalism than security camera still frames. I don't hear anyone seriously claiming that they do, either. One thing I do mourn, however, is that so many PJs think that mashing the shutter down and getting 8 images a second on your Canon 1D amounts to anything more than snapshots. I wish more PJs had enough confidence in their technology (film, digital, whatever) to take the picture in their brain, then let the mechanical part just happen. I'm ashamed for the masses of photogs who spend half their time staring at the LCD preview on the back of their cameras. Maybe photographers should take their que from pilots and get an instrument rating before they go flying in a storm.

    One of the most instructional things I've experienced is the rare occasion when a good film PJ publishes their contact sheet.

    On the hopeful side, I heard that the PJ program at the University of North Texas (here in Denton) just re-instituted film in their program. Apparently it was all digital for a while and students weren't getting those fundamentals.

    -KwM-
     
  20. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    It is no guarantee that using a 4x5 or 5x7 or 8x10 or 11x14 or 12x20 will result in fine photographic prints. I have seen these cameras put to use no better than a digital phone camera. A snapshot is a snapshot whatever the format or medium. Vision is in the heart of the person and not the equipment.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    a snapshot is a snapshot whether they are taken on film or on a digital camera.

    as cheryl said: <snip> It's NOT about the camera. It's about the person behind it

    some of the best photographers got their start by taking the early 1900s version of a snapshot :smile:

    http://www.robertkleingallery.com/gallery/album11

    all this stuff doesn't bother me at all, since most people that have digital cameras ( or even hi-tech film point/shoot cameras ) don't even know how to do much more than frame the image, and depress the shutter.

    "use the fill flash"
    "what's a fill flash"
     
  22. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I agree with Tom. The advances in autofocus/motordrive/ ttl systems a few years ago had the most negative impact on professionals. But only slightly. It allowed a small number of people to bypass pros for specific small jobs.

    Today, with all this new digital technology it seems to be more for a specific purpose. It allows amateurs to place their snapshots on the web, or print for friends or send to each other etc. It does not really affect professionals at all.

    I will say that Photoshop/digital has allowed a new group of photographers to enter the realm, and that is women mainly, who photograph their children, and then branch off to become children's photographers. I think the ease of photoshop has given them an opportunity to enhance their work, doing it all inhouse, and starting a small business doing it. The beauty of this type of spontaneous work speaks for itself. Before photoshop, I doubt that they would have had the opportunity or the perhaps confidence to do this. Cheryl can probably address this better than I can.

    Whether this has hurt existing professional studios is debatable.

    I would like to point out that professional photography portrait studios have always held the belief that competition was good for business. Other photographers advertising would get the idea of family photographs into the minds of people and will increase your business as well. Snapshots, made people think, "I need to get a family portrait done".

    The real "competition " is stereo/tv/furniture type places, car lots, that type of thing, that you competed with for the family's expendable income. They were the ones that hurt you.

    The advent of photoshop did however hurt advertising photographers a few years ago, because it enabled companies to use images over and over by changing backgrounds, colors etc instead of employing the photographers again to create these new images.

    But in most cases, as others have said, if you don't have the talent, gimmicky equipment will not help you.

    Michael McBlane
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2004
  23. sparx

    sparx Member

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    You also have to consider the kind of pictures being taken by snappers of friends, family, days out and the party the night before. These are not going to impact at all on landscape or fine art photographers and the like and, if anything, the explosion of digital cameras especially can only bring more people into contact with photography as an artform.
     
  24. thebassman

    thebassman Member

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    Excellent point... I never really even considered that, as I do both the photography and the digital editing myself. I guess that could have a big impact on certain photographers...
     
  25. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    KwM, some influential PJs disagree:

    http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20040507_116.html

    and the NPPA Magazine photograher of the year (Alex Majoli, finally unseating Natchwey (tho Nachhtwey got the PoY)) did his winning work with a compact Olympus digi:


    http://www.nppa.org/competitions/be...inners/still/index.cfm?category=MPY&place=1st

    Face it, the PRO PJ cannot be everywhere. But other people are. Those prison photos, like em or not, will stick in the public memory far more than any of the many contract-shooting prizewinners from the past year.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2004
  26. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Yeah dr Bob. Omega DII with a Schneider lens and graded paper. If ya can't make great prints this way, ya can't make great prints.

    How's that fer smug.


    tim in san jose
    DII + B22