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Monday, 08 April 2019

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Photography is easy. Good photography is hard. Really good photography is really hard.

Last year I was asked to photograph a car rally. It involved a pre-event meeting a week before and several hours with the event director about what he needed and wanted and the ultimate use of the photographs. After the event we spend three weeks editing the photographs (and a few video clips) into a package for presentation.

The process was long and stressful -- what if I screw up? But the result was good.


Is writing a novel now too easy?

[Must be....

https://outthinkgroup.com/the-10-awful-truths-about-book-publishing/

--Mike]

Yes. Maybe. No. All "content" (art, news, etc.) has been devalued by that there Internet. No more big frog in a small pond; we all compete with and shop in the entire world.
The technical parts of photography are mostly automated in any camera. Cellphone systems are adding AI artistic capabilities. This will continue... and snapshots will get as good as classic photos.
You can still sell technical expertise, especially if you're a printer. But for most of us, it's the usual:
Find good subjects
Do the best image capture you can
Edit for interest, not technical points
Post-process until you like it
Present the package nicely

tl/dr: Don't worry; shoot more and be happy.

Making excellent images takes talent and hard work regardless of technology. That's not to say that pictures of what you had for lunch today are not generally in focus and well exposed, which is an improvement over when you didn't take pictures of what you had for lunch today.

Maybe all these complicated menus are doing us a favor. Plus I just spent hours trying to unclog my Epson 2880 printer head. I think it’s ready for the landfill. If I spend another grand on a new printer and set it up properly with my computer I might finally be able to make a print again. Humans are good at creating difficulty. We are less good at creating interesting art. I don’t worry about photography being ruined by ease. Instagram is mostly a communal thrift store snapshot pile with ads. I look at this website as a good example of the opposite: work matters. Art takes work, insight, luck and time. The need for work will always be with us.

...when something is rare and valued, more effort and care is expended on it. By becoming thoughtless and easy, it also becomes trivial and devalued.

Nothing really new here, this started over 100 years ago when Kodak introduced the Brownie box camera—and the snapshot—to the world.

Katie Couric said: Who gives a rat's *ss if I'm eating a tuna sandwich. Obviously not old-folks—however times change and the kidz eat this stuff up (no pun here, so don't ask).

For many-a-moon there have been multiple types of photography. Documentation photos shot by families (snapshots), PJs and storytellers. Fine Art pics. And the ubiquitous advertising shots—for the most part InstaSites are advertising by influencers.

To be continued.

A regrettable, ironic consequence of equality (of access, tools etc.) is that with it always comes quantity. And quantity always kills quality, if only by making quality harder to stand out and above, and be found. Worse, quantity dilutes the value, and appreciation, of quality.

Blame equality.

It doesn't have to be easy :-). There are many practitioners of many different printing processes, not to mention dry plate, wet plate, tintype, and film negatives. The irony is that the photographer who uses any of these processes is often derided, often by the same critics who imply that the current latest photo technology is too easy. Part of the issue is that there isn't an agreed-upon definition of "good photograph." Perhaps fewer critics should pretend there is.

I do better with questions like this when I can put photography up against a comparator of some kind, like you’ve done. Let me carry your example a bit further. Writing is a lot easier than it used to be because of technology. Writing with a goose quill surely was a pain. I remember typing on a typewriter. That wasn’t fun. Writing with a word processor on a computer is effortless in comparable. Almost anyone in a society with some education and access to the technology can do it these days. And yet despite how easy writing is, we still have authors who write books, and get them published. Books are sold in book stores and held in libraries. Yes, the whole industry is in dire straits and changing rapidly, but I’m not wrong about the basic point. If technology making things easier necessarily killed those things, we shouldn’t have people called authors writing and selling things called books. But we do.

Denizens of photography forums can try to make it all seem complicated, but photography today is extremely easy thanks to technology. As a result, we’re drowning in a sea of images. Billions and billions of photographs are uploaded to the Internet every single day.

Not only has the easiness of photography made “professional photographer” a non-viable career for all but a few, but also it has devalued photographs. They’re not special anymore, like they used to be, and like books still are.

To really get to the core of the issue you’re raising here, we have to think about what it is that other art forms that have survived technologies and social developments that made them “easy” bring to the table. That’s going to require more space and thought than a comment like this can carry. For photography to be a meaningful art form in future, I think we have to focus on questions like that. As a starting point, I think the way forward is to focus on making photographs that matter, and that do what I think art is supposed to do (e.g., affect people emotionally, carry meaningful ideas).

Was it not claimed when it was first invented that photography would kill off the real art of painting, because it was too easy? Now “photographers” - myself included! - consider that the banal use of phone cameras is killing off the real art of photography. Perhaps we are all just getting old?

Taking photos has got easier with every technical advance. Making good pictures with photography will always be difficult. It might even get more difficult.

I read this the other day which may be pertinent - https://medium.com/@kennethjarecke/will-photography-ever-walk-on-two-legs-again-a3a858035c64

The answer is no.

Photography is easy?

Gotten is such an ugly word....

Maybe photography used to be too hard? Most art forms have a wide spectrum of participation, with a recognized scale of values. Dance has everything from two-step to ballet; voice has everything from shower singing to opera; painting and drawing gets done in kindergarten with the results often kept for decades; if you can learn to play three easy chords on a guitar (A, D, E or G,C,D) you can chord through dozens of songs, and singalong. With the easiest photography, until iPhone, you had to learn how to use this machine and then buy film and take the film in to get it developed and printed and pay more money for that, and the results were often disappointing. That was mostly true even with Polaroid. Then, most often heard photography question was, "How did it come out?" Now, things have gotten much simpler at the bottom end. If it's become harder to distinguish snapshots from art, maybe that's because much of the "art" wasn't so good. But some of it was, and you won't find its like among the snapshots.

About writing letters ...
I have some letters from my ancestors in the mid-1800s. Paper was so difficult to obtain that every little bit of the surface was used. In fact, after filling the page with lines of small script, the page was turned 90 degrees and new lines of small script written *crossways* to the previous lines. Very difficult to read.

Mike, I wouldn't say serious Photography (or Photography with artistic intent) has gotten TOO easy, because great photographs are just as hard to achieve as they ever were. But Photography has become far more accessible. And certainly making a technically adequate picture has been made easier through technology.
With it's new accessibility , more people are enjoying taking pictures while technology has eliminated photography's 'waiting period' and given people the ability to share pictures nearly instantly across any distance.
Because of this we also now use photography as an adjunct to language in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. (is This frozen spinach you want? or taking a picture of our parking spot at the Mall)
So we have the explosion of photography for casual use as well as making more serious artistic use easier from a technical point of view. Photography as a hobby has also grown with lots of people making nice photographs including me, but great ones are still rare.

Canon did a wonderful series on Sir Don McCullin. Never having shot digital they got him to agree to take on Jeff Ascough (a top pro in the UK) as a tutor and 2 5D's with his preferred 28 &135 lenses. they have produced 3 or 4 promotional films since including one of him shooting in india. Marvelous stuff, he remarks many times my goodness If I had this capability throughout my career, I would have been many times more productive. He fell in love with digital.

So I think if we ask the question in reverse, what if the great photographers of decades past could have had digital technology and all the capabilities it brings. My guess is that some, perhaps many would have embraced it. We would probably have more great photographs to admire.
The camera is still a tool, the photographer takes the picture the fact that the technical part is easier, just makes the party bigger.
And Cream still rises.

I'm sure that painters made similar comments when photography first arose, and I'm not mocking painters by pointing that out. And so forth when film cameras were invented, or the Kodak Brownie.

No doubt Clarence White's photographs were excellent, considering the restraint and forethought required by his circumstances. But how many great images did he not capture because they were unexpected? We shall never know, of course.

Has photography gotten too easy? Sure, by the broadest definition of the term. The masses of people who used to get crappy 3x5 prints from their Instamatics now get pretty good photos from their smartphones. Usually in focus, decent color, and the exposure algorithms are amazing. Given that probably 99% of them are viewed on the phone screen, the quality is amazing. So yeah, "photography" has gotten so easy that it has no value.

But while the image quality is amazing, the *content* is usually pedestrian or mediocre at best. Nothing has really changed since the Instamatic except the technical quality. Composition, light, moment, all the things that skilled photographers bring to bear are still totally absent from the average phone snapshot.

I've been shooting professionally for 30+ years, and naturally my Facebook feed is filled with the work of my photographer friends. But I also see hundreds of photos a day from my relatives, my musician friends, random people I know on campus, etc. It's very easy to see the difference in their photos, even if the technical image quality is similar - or the same, now that I think about my photog friends and their iPhone photos.

So while photography may be too easy, I think "good photography" is still a challenge.

Weren't photographs the paper things we used to get back from the camera store or drug store a week or two after dropping off a roll of film?

So, maybe if we just dismiss the vast ocean of images on the Web or in our devices as mere "latency" of photographs, like the negs in a PrintFile, our view of the photography universe could be less dismal?

I wonder if there is a certain amount of sample bias through self-selection going on when we look back and examine, for example, the Victorian letters which we admire for their carefully crafted, well thought out, and often painstakingly written, content? What we find has survived, or what at any rate we bother to read, might well be the best of what was written. The dross is either lost or not worth the effort of perusal.
And maybe in another 150 years, future generations (if mankind hasn't killed its planet by then) will look back at those carefully crafted, well thought out, etc. images that were produced in the early part of the 21st Century, and which survived because they were valued enough to be printed and preserved in museums and other institutions, and might observe that the effort that went into those artifacts was probably an important factor in achieving their quality compared to the easy and transient holographs common in the 23rd Century - and that deduction might be wrong.
In other words, while the methods of production and sharing of photographs continues to get easier, it might not be right to conclude that photography has become too easy on the basis of an examination of the high quality of many of the letters that have survived from Victorian times, since their very survival might mean that their quality is not typical of their period.

I would say that "taking a picture" has become too easy. The art of photography is still very hard, although in a different way. Getting a picture that is technically competent (in focus, properly exposed etc.) is less difficult than it was and getting easier all the time. Now the challenge is to create a memorable image when people see so many every day. Everyone has seen so many photos that to surprise them, impress them, make them stop to look and consider your image is a tremendously difficult thing to do.

Continued from this morning.

Clarence White, never heard of him before—why not? I like to be amazed when I first see a photo. That hardly ever happen now. I'm not a mushroom (little brown, or otherwise)—so why am I shown (fed) the same-old-sh*t when perusing art? The things that pass for art today, I can't understand.

It seems to me that many posts and articles in the photographic realm these days are pointing back at the same conclusion: Until recently, the heaviest burden facing photographers was the expertise and effort required to capture images. With digital technology making the capture process "easier" and more accessible, the burden has shifted. Expertise, time and effort devoted to the curation, redaction, editing and ultimately some form of presentation has become paramount.

Not too long ago a person might say,"Oh, I wish I had a camera with me."
That is now almost never the case. Perhaps 80 to 90% of the population over 6 years old always have a camera with them. The results of this were predictable. From the 1970's until about 2010 I was very seldom without a small, fixed lens 35mm camera on my person, usually an Olympus Pen half frame. Now....well now it's an iPhone-6.
You know, I think I'll start packing my Pen again.

Photography may not really be any the easier today, but its dissemination certainly is, and that may be the underlying reason that many of us think photography is in steep decline: we see too much of what used to be largely invisible Brownie product. There's apparently not a lot of editing gets done.

Film was great, but so is digital once you understand the bits that matter. Just because sitting at a computer and playing with images in Photoshop is less uncomfortable than putting up with freezing wet hands does not mean that you automatically knock off great images. With film, too, first you have to create great content in order to be able to show it. That awkward reality never changes, regardless of medium. The hit's in the shutter click.

There’s that but also something else was going on for Virginia Woolf — she didn’t like the hoi polloi writing letters just as many now disdain social snappery.

Another vantage point is that humans don't socialize so much in person. Back in the days when humans gathered together, like at a pool hall, there would be no need to take photographs. Now it seems humans socialize through their phones like androids, and so they share lunch, and other trivial images to connect with other humans out in the ether or nowhere. In this sense these are not photographs at all, just images of what the android happens to be looking at while trying to connect to something, somewhere.

So here’s a radical thought: what if those of us who love, cherish, obsess over and generally desire to create quality photography decided to treat our photos as as precious and expensive to produce as Clarence White did at some point in his life?
How would that change how and what you photographed and the care and planning you put into it? No more 200 shots of a subject to get one or more “keepers”; no “ Ooh, that looks interesting!”; just a studied, careful approach that results in some of the best work we’ve ever created? I, for one, am going to try it awhile and see what happens. You?

I have a debate with an artist friend. I say that digital has devalued photography (as an art form). She says that it has democratised it (even more than the box brownie did). We're both right. Quality still stands out, but to a lesser extent in a crowded field, where photography is now the dominant medium.

Maybe too easy. That was said when digital came to rule. Now it's phones.

Several years ago I was encouraging/coaching a young woman at work because I thought she had a great eye. Without any real knowledge she was landing some pretty decent portraits with her Nikon D3000 something and a 50 1.8.

Some time went by and I asked her how the shooting was going. She replied "I most use my phone now". Easy.

My enlarger has been sleeping about as long as Rip van Winkle has but even scanned film gives me a sense of "I was there".

Quantity has killed off most of the low-level and many of the mid-level professional photographers. But for the best professionals, it may actually have been a good thing, because the difference is more obvious. If you need a photographer for your high-dollar shoot, do you want to take a chance on a college kid with a Rebel, or a professional with proven ability to deliver the goods?

I'm with Speed above. Adequate to reasonably good photography is now within the hands of a great many people, just as it was when Mr Eastman released his first cameras. It's just somewhat more ubiquitous these days. Plus the interwebs expose us to more images in a day than we would have probably seen in a, well, month, year, who knows, so there is a much higher (no pun intended) exposure rate to better quality images.

Really good photography remains, for the most part, really, really hard. As is writing, cooking, furniture making, painting, well, I think you get the point.

Also, I find it interesting that you quote Virgina Woolf, a friend of mine has just finished reading "Virginia Woolf's Nose; Essays on Biography" and was recommending it to me.

This is probably why film photography is still hanging on - it is something that requires a physical effort to do, is slower, and feels like an accomplishment when the photos come out. It produces a physical artifact. It feels like you’re expending more energy and thought when shooting film. That’s why it still has value to many people.

Time to dig out my favorite quote:
"The truth is that anybody can make a photograph.
The trouble is not that photographs are hard to make.
The trouble is that they are hard to make intelligent and interesting”
John Szarkowski 2000 1925-2007

Just about says it all.

As for being too easy? I blame the Kodak Brownie or the Kodak Instamatic and the one use box camera back in the film days. Just point the box, push a button and next week get the image. Put the image in a box and when you die your offspring/caretaker looks at it, calls it good and throws it in the trash.

Just how many people "curate" (one of the hipsters favorite terms) their images. Old phone are thrown away with the only copies of the images still on them.

I think the commitment level required to make high quality images is greatly reduced. The messy darkroom is now your computer, the cost of film is gone, you can take hundreds of images and see instantly if you are nailing the exposure. I don't know if this affects quality, probably does become devalued though. I know in my own little corner of the photography world (landscape) there are hundreds of very good photographers out there snapping pictures.

It's not too easy to me. I still struggle like crazy to make a compelling photograph.

I agree that when something becomes too easy, you take less trouble to get it right.

To take a very trivial example, I remember when word-processors took over from typewriters. In the book publishers I was working for, editors had to write draft copy for jacket flaps and advertisements for their books. This was circulated for general comment and approval. As soon as word processors came in, the quality plummeted. The drafts were a mess.

Because it was so easy to change them, no one bothered any more to get them right first time around.

"I have made this (letter) longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter."
Blaise Pascal

Time and effort are required to make the results worthwhile, whether it is in the actual creating or the training and practice that leads to it. People have always wanted a shortcut to expending time and effort, it's just been more emphasised with the immediacy of the digital age. This in turn makes it harder to discern what is actually worthwhile in the first place. The democratisation of anything is not necessarily a good thing, at least not for the thing being democratised.

“Too easy” for what?

Digital photography followed by smartphones has generated a new type of photography: the on-the-fly spur-of-the-moment transient photo that can be included into a conversation. These photos are not intended to be stand-alone serious pieces of work.

Also, digital photography itself has greatly simplified the technical aspects of producing a good quality photo (technical IQ, not content or aesthetics). This has knocked out a lot of so-so photographers from the industry; other than technical skills they weren't adding much to the value equation, from the customer's perspective.

In a word, codswallop.

It's easier, yes to take pictures. Still just as hard to make art. Vivian Maier wouldn't have done much with a 4x5. There's so many people who have learned how to communicate visually with their smartphones, so many of whom would never have thought themselves to use a 'real' camera. So, yes, much of what's being created today is banal - that's a matter of scale, but it's a problem that existed in the heydays of camera clubs and endless slideshows set to Enya cd's, but the audience is bigger, and wider, and more varied now.

Discovery is easier than it's ever been, and harder than its ever been, but put a random word into Flickr, or instagram, and(okay, yes, avoiding the porn, yes), look at all the amazing stuff!For every album of 'hey-i-have-an-infrared-camera-and-went-to-a-graveyard' there's a set of insane images from someone you've never heard of. A beautiful, poetic yin/yang shot of a some's kid and their cat, sleeping. Cotton Candy sunsets reflected in the sunglasses of a girl that it's obvious the photographer is deeply smitten by.

Hell with art. A lot more emotions on display now than there ever were, and I find that far more satisfying.

I used to complain about the polaroid mentality. This was a few years ago.

Digital photography has made taking great pictures easier than it has ever been. That is the democratization of photography. I used to have a 6x9 cam, 10 shots to a role IIRC. Or I remember being at Hadrian's Villa with a few shots left on a roll of 36 on Sunday and I needed to save a few shots for Monday morning for somewhere else. My current camera usually lets me know that I have 1,600 shots left on the memory card, shooting raw at 120,000 ASA or something.

We have the tools of our dreams.

Meanwhile, Art lives as an alternative thing. Everyone is going left, the artist goes right. Art can't be the junk you see on Instagram. It has to jar you or move you or be unfamiliar or be more beautiful or more ugly. Art escapes definition because there's a lot of ways to make it. It's an exception because it's not Instagram, it MUST be different, however that works.

A good artist will take the tools of the day and make something new. Tools are tools, let's use them, not obsess over them.

At one time I was a newspaper photographer. My skills, such as developing film and printing was needed because not everyone wanted to spend half their working day cooped up in the darkroom. With the age of digital photography, all of a sudden I and many others were free of those shackles. It eventually put me out of a job as the photographic message could be conveyed by anyone with a digital camera and access to the internet (or email).
However from an artistic way of looking at things photography in the digital age has allowed us to expand our vision almost limitlessly, conveying our surroundings in a way that was not possible during those days when Clarence White was limited to two shots a week.

Came here to post my opinion but found out that Speedy has already done it in the first comment. That is to say, good stand-out photography is REALLY hard.

When something becomes really accessible (writing, photography, whathaveyou), what happens is that creating the whatever is easy, but standing out becomes very very hard. What would have been at least an interesting curiosity is likely to be a forgettable lookalike in a sea of similar works.

What an interesting column. Lots to think about: classic TOP. The idea of thinking "what story am I telling" before opening the shutter; editing & curating our photos; & our 'root' teacher (that'd be one M.Johnston).

I go with the crowd that says it’s now much easier to take lots of poor or so-so photographs.

But I think also that the tech makes taking good ones easier too by facilitating a higher success rate in difficult conditions and even making possible what was impossible or near impossible before. With the penetration of frontiers come experiences and ideas unimagined before.

Yet today’s image quality and artistic expression standards are higher than ever, so reaching distinction is still a tough climb.

Finally, there now are umpteen billion people on the planet, a good number of which have significant artistic ability, own cameras, and contribute work to the unimaginably vast pool of circulating images available in the world. Irrespective of tech, a body of capable practitioners that big means that in most quarters of the field the standards of good work are very high.

All that activity by so many also means that tastes, expression, sensibilities, and, styles are multiplying and changing.

Bright new world.

This made me think about a camera forum review I read yesterday on the GR III. The reviewer did not like the camera because A) the auto focus was too slow and B) it wasn't "filmic" enough. ??? Somehow those two things seemed at odds with each other. So on the one had the reviewer wanted the camera to do more for him or make the photography easier. On the other hand he wanted the photographs to look like he shot them with film. Of course I am assuming that is what he meant by "filmic."

To Jim Tubman:
Painters didn't complain photography killed painting. The first reaction of the artistic community was to call the camera an "unreasoning machine" (Elizabeth Eastlake) and say photography was acceptable, as long as it didn't keep the pretence of being more than a means to describe the image of objects (J. Ruskin), thus denying photography a place amongst arts.
On the other hand, it is a well-known claim (Picasso thought that way) that photography liberated painting from literality, in the sense that it allowed painters to explore abstraction as they no longer had to care about veracity.
As for Maria Popova's statement, it shouldn't even be under discussion because it is a truism. What is there to say when anyone with an iPhone in their pocket believes they're a photographer?

The mention of twelve shots caused a flashback to the first wedding I photographed. I was a teenager with about a year of exploring photography. I shot the wedding the way they were shot back then before the invention of automatic flash. I used a twin-lens reflex. I loaded it with one roll of 120 film, 12 exposures. I set the flash and the focus to ten feet. At the wedding I moved in and out until the shot was in focus and took the photo. I sent the one roll of film off to a lab that specialized in weddings. They processed the film and made a 12x12 print of each frame, then put every print into an album and shipped it back to me. I then delivered the twelve photos in the album to the very happy bride.

I was blown away by what wedding photography has become when I hired a photographer for my daughter's wedding a few years ago. It made me tired to watch them at work and made me happy that I stopped shooting weddings many years ago.

It's not that photography is somehow "too easy." it's that thoughtful feedback and criticism is too rare. We toss images out onto the internets and maybe people say "ohhh good one". Or we print an image and show it in our homes or, perhaps if we're lucky, a gallery. But we seldom get quality feedback about our work. A novelist, or a short story writer, may get editorial feedback but that's a luxury for the average photographer.

This whole subject belongs in the same category as the "don't take your own photo of iconic vistas" - which is to say: just don't go there.

As regards the number of shots we take per photographic outing. When I take my Fuji X-Pro2 camera out for a half-day of shooting, I normally come back with ten, perhaps twenty extra files on my memory card. Not very different from the days when my Fuji GW690 had eight frames per roll of of 120 and I came home with one or two exposed films.

To the question is photography to easy today I would definitely say yes - and no. Yes if we see to all the „content free” pictures we see on the (social) media sites. No if we look to the small number of good photographers and images one can also today count on one hand ( maybe 3 but not more as 10 hands ;-) ).
I think personally that the possibilities of the medium we have today, technically in camera and image editing, does a good job (also to a big part marketing driven) to convince everyone who is marginally interested to take pictures that he is a good photographer if the pictures has no noise, are sharp and colored as they are hoopping directly out from a bubble gum advertising. If it’s happen that the same picture has also a lot of bokeh it has to be a winner and should at least published on 3 different channels. It doesn’t matter that the word bokeh has a totally different meaning as this photographer thinks nor that the image in itself has no meaning or interest to other as himself.
Because of this dilemma one can come to think that photography is gotten to easy but real and meaningful photography is at least to the same amount associated with, sometimes hard, work as it always was. Maybe we should start to differentiate between imagetaking and photography 🤔😉.
Med vennlig hilsen / Yours sincerely
Thomas Weih

As a Brit I cringed at the word “gotten”; looked it up to find this:

“Walter Raleigh (letter, 1618): I had gotten my libertye”...

and wondered what he’d been smoking.

Regarding your comment on Walker Evans’ judicious approach to shooting pics, I found it somehow comforting to learn that he unabashedly cropped them in post as needed to achieve his desired result. His approach is detailed, with examples, in the book “Walker Evans at Work.”

Has seeing become easier?

"This whole subject belongs in the same category as the "don't take your own photo of iconic vistas" - which is to say: just don't go there."

Counterpoint: Taking the picture for yourself is fine ... but you don't have to show it to anyone who doesn't care. It's for you.

Not taking a picture because someone else probably did it better is just a self-defeating way to end up in total paralysis.

That 'one frame per day' that Daniel mentioned in the featured comments sounds like a good idea.
Since I already have all the photo paper and chems I need I think I'll cut strips of photo paper 55X35mm and load them (under safelight), one each day into one of my 35mm cameras. At ISO 6 I'll have to use a tripod although in sunlight @ f2 I could hand hold. Photograph the resulting paper neg with a digital camera, bring it into some random image handling program, flip it left to right and make a positive.....
You would know you only had one chance and the tripod would also slow you down.
Yeah, that would work.

I really believe that making things easier is often a detriment to doing good work. You become less invested, and lazier. Writing is a good case in point. When I was young I wrote stories on a typewriter, which meant I had to pay attention to every word I put on the page. When I got a word processor, I thought it was great - at first. But then the ability to easily correct anything I’d written made my thought process sloppier over time. I really believe that. And I think the same is true of photography. You might be shooting thousands of images, but honestly, how many of them are any good?

In the first two years of ownership of a Nikon D100 (2003/4), I shot more photos than I had in the prior 40 years with film. Yet somehow, the framed photos on my wall include nothing post 2003...

To be a bit of a Luddite, although I make a living in tech, photography (or as Paulo points out many other activities) are not alone in being degraded. Written communications has become a lost art. Sentences, spelling, etc. has tech helpers but "IT DON'T SEEM TO HELP!"

A couple of weekends ago, we attended the LA County high school science fair. Dozens of exhibits were so similar you assumed they were from web site of science fair projects. Titles were ungrammatical and had misspelled words. Is it the student's or the teachers fault? Does no one care?

The problem is not whether or not photography has become too easy but that the gardener and the gardener's boy are now able to do it without much effort with their cellphones.

"Herschel ... proposed using a sodium thiosulfate coating to make the images more permanent"

What?

[Right, bit of a howler, that. I meant to see if I could email her to suggest a correction for the error. --Mike]

Brings to mind the old saw.

Buy a camera and you are a photographer;
Buy a violin and you own a violin

The interesting thing is that it’s no easier to be compassionate, caring, friendly, or truly creative.I guess technology hasn’t made it as far as we’d like.

Using light-sensitive materials to turn camera exposures into look-able pictures is basically no harder or easier than it was a hundred years ago.

Using electronics to turn camera exposures into pictures display-able on a monitor screen is incomparably easier.

But the two techniques are not genuinely interchangeable and equivalent and have their own characteristics and implications.

Certainly today's picture saturated world could not exist if darkroom work with film and paper was the only way to do things.

Theres no question that it is much easier to take pictures these days. It still takes some doing to get a really good pictures. What has changed I think is the value of good pictures. So many people are taking pictures these days and there are so many that you have to call good I no longer pay much attention to them any more. I follow a former photography professor of mine on social media. He travels all over and makes a lot of really good pictures. I find myself scrolling past them barely stopping. I wonder if he remembers many of them despite their high quality.

The really bad thing is that I do this with my own pictures as well. I’m hoping that going back to film will bring back some of the preciousness to my images. It will certainly give me incentive to be more careful while shooting.

"Is photography too easy?"

No, far harder now.

30 years ago anybody with a bit of technical ability and a medium format outfit could make a decent living shooting stock photography. Not a lot of creative ability needed.

Now you need to be pretty exceptional and work like mad to make a decent living shooting stock....

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