Some thoughts on modern photography.


Some thoughts on modern photography.

As I have said, Alicia Smith and I went to see The Giants yesterday in Perth, and it was stunning. 

While watching and taking photos, started noticing something, and started looking around me. What I observed was very interesting and quite wonderful.

Firstly, I saw, in the thousands of people around me, maybe three or four point-and-shoot digital camera. This is a section of the market that is getting seriously squeezed.

Secondly, this created an odd sort of division in the crowd. There were those using mobile phones or the occasional tablet to record the event - and those with DSLR or Mirrorless kit. And almost nothing in between.

Then it gets interesting - from my perspective, anyway. Almost everyone who was shooting with interchangeable lens kit didn't just have a stock camera. There were video stabilisation grips, long and short primes, boom mics, monopods, highlift tripods with image relay remotes, chest-strap quick release systems, wide-screen specific lenses, all sorts of kit.

All of which, just a couple of years ago was the domain of either the pro, or the serious camera geek.

Yesterday it was in the hands of the regular folk. The stabilisation kit and boom mic? A young couple filming their 5-maybe-6 year old interviewing her 7-maybe-8 year old friends. The highlift tripod? Just a guy with his girlfriend. Quick release system? A young mother. And the list goes on.

Even I did not have just stock gear - I had reflector discs for some portraits I did later in the event, a second camera, and two lenses, even though I was travelling very light.

All the gear that just a few years ago cost a small fortune to buy, and you had to be 'in the biz' or a club to know about is now general knowledge and affordable by all.  And they are learning to use it, and to think about what and how they shoot as a result.

That has to be a good thing for the art.

Comments

  1. Your last comment - "That has to be a good thing for the art."

    My experience is that photography is becoming more and more advanced without getting any better.  Cameras (even phone cameras) are getting better at making up for user's technical mistakes, but none of them are capable of making up for a lack of knowledge about what is a good photo and why.

    On the other hand, it makes the manufacturers happy.  It also makes it possible for me to have the kind of gear I wanted in 1985, and that makes me very happy.

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  2. The change in technology has made it all more accessible. That I see as a good thing. I was able to experiment in school and able to grow a love for it but after that it was hard to continue as I didnt have the money to get films processed. Now it is easier to get involved.
    One of my daughters has an amazing eye and she is able to express that with her phone while learning how to use my DSLR as well.
    Those who have the "eye" for it will still manage to take better pictures that those who "have all the gear and no idea" but I think it is a good thing that there is more access for all now.

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  3. There has been snobbery in photography for as long as I can remember.

    One had to have a particular make, or a certain type of camera or a specific lens, and they had to be carried in a proper bag. Otherwise the person was not a photographer or even a credible amateur.

    And photographs taken had to conform to certain rules, otherwise they were not proper photographs. Only the well known photographers were allowed to break the rules.

    Nowadays, anyone can pick up their phone and take their picture of whatever they like. And that is brilliant.

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  4. Tom Cooper One of the things that struck me was the way the gear was being used - people who had it were thinking about what they were doing with it. Part of this revolution is that the information on how to use this sort of gear, and how to structure images is so much more accessible now.

     Chris Thomas raises a good point about people who have 'the eye' vs 'the gear', but we are seeing more people able to learn the first and afford the second. Although, as bek pointed out in the reshare, quality glass is still pretty expensive - even pre-owned quality glass, although, to be fair, it is now merely expensive - not extortionate.

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  5. Thanks Paul Wooding - that is a large part of it - people are using their phone cameras so much that they are in many ways teaching themselves what looks good - and then saying to themselves "How do I make this look better?" - and at the same time seeing many other photos being shared and wondering "How do I do that?" 

    Gradually they learn about things like controlling focus and depth of field, colour management, and how the eye moves across an image - and when they want to be able to do more, they can afford to - and do.

    Another aspect is the growing range of mobile-phone camera add-ons - add-on lenses, off-and-on 'camera' flash units, tripod mounts, remote controls, filter holders and more. These allow people to get used to the effects of these tools for a comparatively low cost, and when they do transition to more adaptable gear (I'm not going to say 'better'), they know what to expect.

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