I also find myself agreeing with what Lee wrote. The proliferation of stock images, something Kevin mentions, has created a micro-stock and so-called custom stock (basically images on speculation) market, fuelled by Getty and Corbis having bought out many imaging companies. People who use to make a living doing stock photography are having a very rough time. I think in some ways that public perception of low or no cost imaging adversely affects that.

Lack of credentials, lack of true organization, and a lack of understanding hurt photography as a profession. While APA, EP, and ASMP efforts do help photographers, they do so more at a legal or government level, rather than helping any public awareness of photography. The marketing efforts of companies wanting to sell ever more cameras also gives the impression of it being all too easy. The average person in public does not know what a medium format camera is, nor even that there are such things as new large format cameras . . . many of us probably get questions about whether we can still get film for that or perhaps even surprise that we can shoot colour film in our cameras.

While I found the original article to contain the usually too short oversimplifications, the problem is I think it did reflect some in the general public. Speak to professionals and enthusiasts, then different approaches are required. The original article seemed aimed at a segment of the general public; and I found trouble with it because there was little that would further interest in photography. I doubt the writer cared about how professional photographers nor how photography enthusiasts viewed the article.

Where I am living currently, I see some portrait photographers doing outdoor images with medium format cameras. The funny aspect is that some people perceive the larger cameras as somehow more professional; perhaps just by being a bit different. There is often too much emphasis on the gear being more important than the images. This is where I think the art aspect of photography fails. When the magic is no longer in the image, then people get the idea they can do it themselves. It should make little difference in my oil paintings whether I use Windsor & Newton paints, or some other brand; the choice is simply my personal preference, not some formula (equipment) ensuring good results.

I saw some of this in the past weekend at a local event called Art Walk. There were many fine art photographers showing images, and quite a few fielded lots of technical questions of how their images were created. I don't think it is bad to educate people in some techniques, but the danger is making it sound too easy. People don't arbitrarily take up drawing or painting, because they understand there is effort involved; but photography often can only be difficult when they cannot get the results they want.

There is an entire industry now just in teaching people to do photography. However, much of that now is an emphasis on gear and technology, rather than understanding what makes an image compelling. I still think drawing skills are the skills that had the greatest impact on my photography, and we all know that pencils and a sketchbook don't cost much.

Ciao!

Gordon