Quote Originally Posted by Barry S View Post
Photography is going through its second great social transition. The first was the development of hand cameras and the first Kodak--you push the button and we do the rest. The technical expertise required to practice photography was significantly lowered and photography became accessible to nearly everyone. Pictorialism was a reaction to the mass production of photography and and an attempt to emphasize craftsmanship and establish photography as a fine art.

The issue today isn't digital itself, but the reduction of the required technical expertise for the practice of photography to essentially zero. Digital enabled the easy and instantaneous production of photography along with the means to easily alter the image. In digital, everything is infinitely malleable. Digital also enabled the rise of social media to create a visible stream for this mass production of images. It's human nature to attract attention--hence the rise of bad HDR and other forms of grotesque manipulation needed to rise above the noise of the image stream. The starving off of arts education and the suppression of the value of the arts in our culture guarantees the domination of a kitsch aesthetic.

Teaching and demonstrating wet plate collodion, I emphasize that photographers should freely draw on every photographic process just as other artists choose from a rich and diverse set of processes. The good news is that the same forces that created the image stream are driving many serious photographers back into what we foolishly term "historical processes".
The point&shoot aesthetic hasn't changed at all. Whether it's Box Brownie or iPhone, most snapshooters just pass along whatever they capture. Very few digital p&s shooters manipulate their image beyond red-eye reduction, simple crops and perhaps some horizon leveling. I tried to count the number digital p&s shooters I saw a few weekends ago around downtown Toronto who ever took their cameras out of landscape orientation and didn't see many. Same old, same old. If anything, snapshots sent by friends and family look hilariously similar to prints going back a decade or longer.

Friends who shoot professionally always talk about compiling something like this infamous site http://www.cakewrecks.com/ for butt-ugly digital disasters.