About photography.

I hope you like porn. Camera porn.

Source: engadget

Source: engadget

Seriously. Camera porn exists, basically it’s just photos upon photos of cameras (usually more fancy cameras such as the Leica brand). How suggestive do you want that to be?

Anyway, I’ve been getting tired of blogging about “me”. It’s nice sometimes, but a lot of the time it just seems rather pointless so how about I try something new? I’m just going to be writing about photography. No, not how to take photos, but just thoughts on it. Kind of like that academic paper you should be writing up right now (but you’re here so big whoop).

Where is photography going? With technology rapidly making DSLRs (and DSLR quality cameras) cheaper, more numerous, and packed with more features, pretty much anybody can get their hands on one at some point if they wanted to. Heck, the cameras in your phones are getting better and better too (they’re pretty close to Point&Shoot cameras now). In fact, the most commonly uploaded “camera” on Flickr is: *drumroll please* the iPhone.

Yellow is the iPhone 3G, so not including the current iPhone 4 here. It’s dropped quite a bit on the graph, but the differences are there. The pink line is the Nikon D90, green and black are the Canon Rebels, blue the Canon 5D. I mean, LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE.  Source: Flickr Camera Finder.

In photography, composition goes a long way. That simple placement (or replacement if that is the case) of the subject can make the photo/image look exponentially better. Before, photography was a hobby/skill that was accessible by the super rich or the super talented (that said, there are always exceptions). Not only did one have to understand how to take photos, but one had to understand how to develop the film and then make prints on an enlarger (know what an enlarger is? Congrats, you are aware of tech from the film era). Or at least, know someone who would be willing to do it for you for either a fee or for free. The learning curve was much much steeper before digital as well. Is film dead? Not at all. There are still old farts who stick with film. There are also those from the current generation who love film (but also use digital) and let’s face it. If you meet someone who knows how to develop film (or still takes photos with film) your mind kind of goes “woah”. I shoot film here and there and I still think that.

Anyways, digital is the way to go for the masses. I’m not saying film should be waved aside, but I’m more concerned with the photographic process. Ok, so for the most part, cameras are extremely accessible to the masses, they’re digital, and we have the internet (well Facebook and Flickr). What do we have?:

  • 5 billion – Photos hosted by Flickr (September 2010).
  • 3000+ – Photos uploaded per minute to Flickr.
  • 130 million – At the above rate, the number of photos uploaded per month to Flickr.
  • 3+ billion – Photos uploaded per month to Facebook.
  • 36 billion – At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.
    (Taken from Internet 2010 in Numbers)

So looking at the numbers, that’s one hell of a lot of photos. And this is only on the two largest photo sharing websites. NOT every other single freakin photo sharing fanfare OMG PHOTOSSS website.

I think it’s safe to say, with the increase in the number of people in photography we got going, there is also an increase in the number of people who are pretty darn good at photography as well (on the flip side you also have an increase in the number of people who are just plain terrible at taking photos, regardless of the camera). In other words, to be considered “up there” in photography, you either have to be a well known name in photography (such as Joey L) or you have to have that style that people just know when you look at it. In this case, Joey L has both (at least I think so). Of course, you can be pretty good within your circle of friends only. That’s perfectly fine since everybody has their own style, be it in commercial, family/friend snapshots, photojournalism, or whatever the hell kind of photography you do.

Like I said earlier, composition goes a long way. You can “lack” creativity and still take good photos with good composition. With Photoshop, you can take crap photos and still get an interesting result. Is that photography? Some would argue yes, others no (throw in some contrast, random colors, or vignetting; it’s art!). For now, that’s a different story. Main thing is, the bar that is set is increasing each and every day. It’s pretty easy then, to just go: “ah it’s pretty easy to take photos now, I’ll just let someone else do it”. There IS a satisfaction to be gained by being able to capture that “moment”. That “moment” is basically yours. Sure, the scene could have been seen and photographed by thousands of other people, but it was your viewpoint from exactly where you were standing (sitting, crouching, lying, however you took the photo). It’s the photo you can look back on and remember. That’s one of the things you can do with photography. It may not look fantastic or all that interesting. But it’s yours, it’s something you can look back on when you’re…what…90? Heck, show your grand-kids and bore them to death if the photos really aren’t that good.

Another thing to do with photography (if you’re pretty good) is to help others capture that moment. It might not be “their own”, but seeing an image does bring back memories regardless of whether or not you took it. And let’s face it, even though digital cameras are extremely commonplace, there are still those who either can’t obtain one or just don’t give a damn. Help them out, friends, strangers, or acquaintances.

Let’s face it, some photos look like another/other photo(s) that someone else took, or if you’re just unlucky it looks like thousands of other photos that have been taken (*cough*camwhoreshots*cough*). Seriously, I see some photos and they’re good, but I’ve seen something similar many many times before. So, there are those who have their own style that you see and you just know that it’s their photo. Either they’re seen a lot, or they just have that look.

The bar for quality is set pretty high, but that doesn’t make photography any that much less interesting. It’s a way of expression and in the end, if you’re content with your photos, that’s all that matters. If you’re not, well you my friend, have the quality bar set pretty high. Aim for it, and accept nothing less.

There are snapshots of a moment that exists only for those that were there, there are photos that have underlying themes. Some photos are just vain examples of “look at me!”, others show beauty that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen. Others mean more to the people looking at them than to the photographer that took the photo and vice versa. Many photos are just meant to make scenes/people pretty, some capture a moment that otherwise would have gone un-noticed. That’s the beauty in a lot of the things people do in life. Not just photography.

So where is it going? I don’t even know if I answered that in the large blurb I got going here, so let’s try and condense it. Increases in technology is making photography more accessible to the general public. At the same time, it is beginning to push some ideas about photography aside. Why take a photo when I can get a video WITH SOUND!? (didn’t mention that, so I’ll refer back to it later). More people are getting better at it, but it also sets the bar pretty high. It weasels out the non-serious in the sense that those who are in fact serious with photography can push themselves to a new level that can make their photography different and, perhaps, express more or help others much much more. The way photography is done is changing, but the desires to capture the world around us remain the same for the most part. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

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5 thoughts on “About photography.”

  1. Great post, and I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. A few years ago, I turned on my computer and it seemed that a lot of my friends suddenly declared themselves as photographers because they decided to purchase an expensive SLR. Technology has made it easier for everyone to take a stab photography (which is great), but it’s still important to recognize that the equipment does not make the artist.

  2. Wow, that was long, but still an interesting read (with charts and stats too!). Thanks for taking the time to write it. Thoughts on photography are def more interesting than “how to’s” …What you wrote about accessibility and technology could apply to music (and other things), too. But I like the thought how that actually sets the bar higher and calls for one to develop a distinctive style (and/or voice, in music and writing). Also, I think you captured well the beauty of art and photography (among other things) in these lines: “…others show beauty that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen …some capture a moment that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. That’s the beauty in a lot of the things people do in life. Not just photography.” (: …and good end summary. Perhaps I’ll attempt a longer response another time.

  3. I don’t know about you, but it kind of annoys me that there are so many people with DSLRs now, and it’s sort of like “Oh hey, I have a DSLR, I’m a good photographer now!” when really, their photos aren’t that great. You can argue that it takes practice, and getting that camera can provide that practice, but for me, I just feel as if one should practice, say composition, with a simple point and shoot first because for some people, I’ve seen pictures taken with a DSLR that looks like it was taken from a phone camera… :/

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