The Lowering Quality of Photography

Started Sep 16, 2008 | Discussions thread
Soenda Senior Member • Posts: 2,457
Just Part of the Bigger Picture

Adrian Veidt wrote:

Okay, so here's the deal. Besides all the forum hubbub, what's really
been the problem is poor photography. I mean, really subpar,
terrible, awful, shameful, ugly, horrendous photography.

I suspect that the proportion of good photography to bad has not really changed. It is certainly true that there are more of us taking pictures than ever before, so there will be more bad, indifferent, good and excellent photographs.

It's just
common, and lifeless, and so drab, or over artsy, or just plain bad!

It's hard to guess what your preferences are, but art is not absolute. You can decry the evolution of photography because the style is not to your taste, but others may genuinely love it.

[edit for length]

I think you are wrong in lumping all forums together. If what you prefer is fine art, there are other places to look. Smaller places, to be sure, but more homogeneous in nature.

[edit for length]

It's my thought that by giving every Tom, Dick, and Harry a dSLR that
we've lost something in the mix. When you can easily afford a camera
body and it isn't a big budget concern, or it is and you don't get
good lenses because of it; then the pictures are going to suffer
either because you don't care enough of because you can't care enough
to make the glass perform any better than kit-glass can perform.


What I'm trying to say is that with a bazillion cameras on the market
and low prices so that anyone that can afford them, pictures have
become so ubiquitous that we've lost the impact that photography used
to provide.

You sound as if you're mourning the glory days of some photographic aristocracy. I'm unsure what it is you would like to see happen. Do you think that Tom, Dick and Harry should have their cameras taken away from them? Or that camera makers should forgo the revenue from selling less expensive cameras? Or that Tom, Dick and Harry should be bullied into redirecting their resources so that they buy only expensive cameras? Or are you looking for other people to confirm your sense that photography is well on its way to the dogs?

This is a double-edged sword for possible photography purchases,
because they will say to themselves that suchnsuch a camera only
costs suchnsuch and I could take that picture myself.

With the emergence of a middle class, that has been true of all but the most expensive art forms. People paint, write, sing, play instruments, act in plays, make movies and photographs for their own pleasure. That is how I take photographs, myself. I looked at other photos online with delight and awe, but the prodding of others led me to believe that "a camera only costs suchnsuch and I could take that picture myself." If you look at my galleries and gag, then there is a problem, but it's not mine.

...[edited for length]

So even though you would think that it would be a boon for us better
photographers to have a bazillion terrible photographers around, it
isn't. It just drags down the respect of photography, reduces the
mystique, and kills the saleability of your wares unless you stand
out so far that you become an internet superstar (which is to say,
rarely does anyone actually make money like they used to), and the
saturation is so bad that most are hardly likely to ever see your
stuff in the first place no matter how good you are.

Did you think when people read this that they would sympathize? You leave no doubt as to which group of photographers you belong to while denigrating the bazillions of the rest of us. This is not likely to win you much support. As you've seen from other replies, it makes people feel like you've challenged them. Now they want to see your work to find out if you are as good as you make yourself out to be. When you opt not to share your photos, you oblige us to take your word for it. But since you've just insulted us, we are not inclined to give you so much benefit of the doubt.

I think we've come to a bad place in photographic history where we
are seeing everyone can afford a camera but there's no pricetag for
talent and it cannot be purchased. You either have something within
you or you don't in this regard. Perhaps you'd be a better singer
than a photographer; but it doesn't matter, and almost no photograph
ever truly sings to the people. Only a few can do it right, but the
few are being outweighed by the masses.

This is definitely a turning point in the history of photography. Hardly surprising given the marriage of digital photography and the Internet. With technology advancing at warp speed, it's impossible to imagine where it will be 10 years from now. Impossible, but exciting. Personally, I believe that photography must inevitably become a three dimensional art form. People will be shooting holograms instead of flat photos. And indeed, that's likely to be a very expensive, very exclusive kind of photography for awhile.

I'm wondering how you feel about it. And if you are selling well
enough to make a living, what you think about all the multitudes and
how it impacts your business.

I wonder what percentage of DPR readers actually are selling their photographs? This might be a question better asked on the Digital Pro forum. I can't tell you how it impacts my business because photography is a hobby for me. I can tell you most emphatically that when I wanted excellent shots of my two daughters, I didn't try to do it at home. I went to a very good professional photographer and received fine results for a fair price. My own love of photographing my kids, my cats, my streets and the people in my village, that has not caused me to shrug off the quality work I can get from a pro.

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