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Some Uncomfortable Truths About Photography

Last Updated on January 24, 2016 by PixelPluck

Some Uncomfortable Truths About Photography.

This is a throwaway because I really like you guys and this post might come across the wrong way to some folks who I think are awesome. Which is all of you people. Some Uncomfortable Truths About Photography.
This is a long goddamn thing, I need to get it all down, I physically can’t sleep without saying this to somebody, even if it’s just typing it for my own catharsis.
This mainly has to do with the business of photography, rather than the art of photography. If you are a happy shutterbug who is damned good at shooting or wants to be and that’s your goal, you don’t need to listen to me at all. This isn’t about that.
This is about doing it for a living.

I think some things need to be said out loud, for once, as least things that I’ve noticed:

1. It’s more about equipment than we’d like to admit.
Years ago, I started with a shit film camera. The PJ playing field was divided between those who could afford fast lenses and bodies that allowed quick film loading and those who could not. Talent meant not just knowing how to compose and expose a frame correctly, but also knowing how to trick your goddamn shitty equipment into doing what you want it to do.
Nowadays, especially those of you in college, the playing field is divided between those who can buy adequate equipment to get the job done, and those who can afford fucking MAGIC. Let’s face it: the asshole kid whose dad bought him a Nikon D4 and a 400mm f/2.8 is going to have a better sports portfolio than you when you apply to our paper. You’re both talented but we’re too fucking cheap to provide equipment and so was your school. As a consequence, he got all the primary shots he needed for an assignment in the first five plays and spent the next half-hour experimenting with cool angle choices and different techniques while you were still trying to get your 70D to lock focus quickly enough.
True, you can’t pick up a pro camera, set it to P mode and instantly turn into Ansel Adams, but if you’re learning on the same pace as everyone else and you are trying to keep up because your equipment can’t hack it, the difference will be stark, and frustrating.

2. People are doing some unethical shit with RAW and nobody really understands or cares.
Photoshopping the hell out of photos is a nono in photojournalism, we all know this. And yet I see portfolios and award compilations come to our desk with heavy artificial vignetting, damn-near HDR exposure masking and contrasts with blacks so deep you could hide a body inside them.
When I question anybody about this they say “oh yeah, well I didn’t do anything in CS6, just the raw editor in Lightroom real quick so it’s okay, it’s not destructive editing, the original is still there.”
It’s not okay.
But it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. Some of the shit on the wire services looks exactly the same so they got jobs somewhere.
That dude that got canned from The Blade for photoshopping basketballs where there were none? He’s found redemption- I remember reading an article where some editor says “oh he sends us the raw files so we know its kosher now.”
Fucking storm chasers are the worst offenders at this shit. Guess what he does now.

3. Many times, sadly, it doesn’t even matter if your photos are all that good or not.
We are in the age of the Facebook Wedding Album. I’ve shot weddings pretty much every Saturday for a decade and if there is one thing I’ve learned it is the bride paradox: people hate photos of themselves even if they are good, people love photos of themselves with people they love even if they are bad.
And that’s totally fine.
Now that everyone has a phone with a decent camera or a little money for a DSLR with a pop-up flash, there exist an entirely new and growing population of couples who are perfectly happy employing their wedding guests as proxy paparazzi for everything from prep to ceremony to formals to cake to dance. They will like their photos better than ours. They won’t last, they won’t be able to put together a quality album, and they really don’t mind.
Consequently, there also exists a class of photographers that saw how happy their friend was with the photos they snapped at their wedding in this manner and read an article on Forbes that said they could make $1500 a week doing it again and again if they wanted. They make no attempt to get better, they spam the bridal shows with booths that are alarmingly tacky and worse yet they learn they don’t actually have to shoot the thing themselves with they can pay somebody else to shoot the wedding at a third of the cost and pass it along.
And nobody cares.
My buddy, an excellent photographer that chooses to shoot mediocre but proven poses for senior portraits, yearbooks, weddings, school sports, etc.,.. makes something like $70k/year in Midwest money. He’s a really great photographer, but you’ll never see the good stuff he shoots because it doesn’t sell. You shoot what the clients want.
More and more, you won’t like what the clients want.
And that goes for news outlets, too. “User submitted photo” is becoming the number one photo credit, it seems.
Nobody cares about recording history. Nobody cares about documenting the events of our time for the future. Just send us a low resolution .jpeg still frame from a movie you shot with your phone and that’ll work if we get it by deadline because all the photographers are laid off. Nobody seems to care.
I wish I could tell you I haven’t seen it happen myself.

4. Photography is easier than we’d like to admit.
Here’s something for you: I’ve been doing this for a long time. I am an excellent photographer. Give me an assignment and tell me what you want and I assure you, I’ll come pretty fucking close to the picture you had inside your head. I am very, very good at what I do.
You know what? You could learn everything I know in a few months.
Maybe less if you really focus on it.
That’s it.
My knowledge, my experiences, all of it- from professional sports to weddings to news to feature to product to portraits.. A few goddamn months.
In college, I studied alongside classical artists like we were equals.
We were not.

5. We need to stop being goddamn snobs and accept the coming of The Golden Age
Remember that as****e kid with the $5k Nikon D4s whose portfolio was better than yours? Guess how much that camera is going to sell for in say.. five years.
Would you believe $300? $500, maybe? That’s all that body will be worth, if it’s in good condition. And that’s if Nikon decides to keep repairing the shutters that will inevitably die by then.
Have you played with a D4? That is a sweet goddamn camera. That can do everything you need to do, right now. Even ISO 6400 is beautiful. A lot of cameras are like that.
Right now.
Imagine what will be $300 in ten years.
Everything is getting better. Sony, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, everything is fantastic. All of the future’s crappy old stuff will be today’s awesome new stuff. And that means more people are going to be able to afford really great cameras that can do amazing things and we are going to see some amazing photography come from surprising places.

It’s going to be awesome.
It may also be the death of our profession.
Of my profession.
If you want to be a photographer- wonderful, good, yes, do that, I can’t recommend it enough.
But I do not think we will last.

Source :  Reddit (icanjusttypeanythi)

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  1. Every professional knows that the equipment it’s important, and they will get cheaper, but that doesnt matter.

    This post is mean to people who think that they’re unique for the job they do, that’s just a lie.

    The reason why people is unique at they do, it’s because the time they spend in it.

    So maybe in 10 years everybody will get a DSLR, that’s ok, but that doesn’t mean they will spend the time we do in this profession, and that’s what really mark the difference.

    One thing is to be realistic and other is to be a negative one.

  2. Oh boy that was real emotions pouring out, I agree what you say but no matter how good and easy cameras get, they still can’t get the photographer to learn the physics of light, this new gen photographers will always be on an auto mode.

    • I’m sure something similar was said when the first autofocus lens was envisioned, that a machine will never focus as well as a professional photographer. That’s pure shortsighted arrogance. That since you can’t imagine it, then it won’t be possible. Smart phones were barely heard of 7 years ago. At that point devices had an actual keypad. No decent smart phone in 5 years has had a mechanical keypad. Now compact cameras are practically obsolete so users are all looking to their smart device. How long until an app shows users how to compose better shots. Multi lens smartphone cameras with intelligent subject detection that can accurately predict what you’re trying to shoot and apply instant filtering and processing like digital depth of field and the like. Sure purests will detest such things and the concept of an accurate representation of reality will be lost forever but in a world where musicians being autotuned is just standard practice, 95% consumers will eat it up. At an event or function I pull out my DSLR, amongst others with iPhones and the like, and it’s seen as an unnecessarily eccentric.

  3. Great read! I got a chuckle at the post process HDR images. I wondered how some images I see of night landscapes looked so amazing and beyond sharp. I tried the same shot with the same camera, lens and setting and I didn’t produce the same result. I later learned that the image I was in love with was a composition of photos stitched together in Photoshop.

    I guess either I get with the times and learn photoshop or give up on night time long exposure landscape images.

  4. Yes, I’d agree with you good equipment is important, and I also agree that photogrpahy isn’t the art form that many would have us believe.
    It’s a medium to create an artistic impression of the scene presented to us.
    One thing I’m still learning though is light. How to see it, how to control it and how to fathom how my camera will produce the image I would like to capture in my minds eye.
    If you can teach that in a few weeks, then you’d have a recipe to make a fortune.
    I’ll keep a look out for your book and on-line course.
    In the meantime, I’ll keep on practicing and trying to improve.

  5. Sound to me that someone is butthurt over losing a job to a young kid with a nice kit.

  6. All the points above are the reason why I’m starting to shoot more and more film over digital.

  7. Hi,
    Been in this industry about 10 years, its so true the best equipments bring out the best from you. The gears make my job more easier and faster. But I seldom stress my gears more important to new comers because sometime its will let them down. But truth is better gear will make u much better…if you are know inside out 🙂

  8. I find it amusing that the author uses the term “as*e”, but proceeds to use variations of the word “f*k” throughout the article.

  9. Very nice points brought out in this blog. These all are facts that we all have to accept even if u dont like. for more on my photography pls visit my site .

  10. I am an ameture photographer, and I have shot a few weddings just because I was there, and you are right people like the family/loved one shots. I am not great but I am getting better. No great photographer should loose a job to the likes of me. But when at a good venue I like to shoot. Accessibility to equipment certainly does open up art form to more people, but for most it still isn’t high art, and it won’t be.

    It is not just photography, all the arts are to a degree impacted. Woodcarvers? there is now CNC routers that can carve many things, and 3-D printers will be able to reproduce “David” close enough at some point that most won’t tell the difference, but to create the next “David” in a different pose? that will still take tallent. Oil painters? You know photo’s can digitally be made to look like and printed as if they were an oil painting. And some will go that way, but the best work will still be measured against good painters (or at least good photographers!). Photo shop in itself is a bit of an art form. There certainly is a market for fantasy art. green screen at a comic con convention subbing backgrounds to people in weird costumes and poses would be art to many (at least in attendance!)

    There will always be a market for quality and talent, it will ebb and flow of course. In the news now are stories about a photographer who sold a picture of a potato for a million $. Heck my wife’s pot roast looks better than that! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, always has been. Marketing is a part of sales, and you need to define and find an audience, or hope to get lucky and have them find you.

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