No Amount Of Technology Will Turn A Mediocre Photographer Into A Great One

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Nor, in conceptual terms, will it transform a bad idea into a good one. For that you would still need to possess a rare set of creative gifts that are still to do with seeing, with deep looking.

Whatever upheavals it has witnessed, photography has endured. It continues to do so, even as we drown in a sea of uploaded images whose sheer quantity mediates against their meaning. Photography, in more ways than one, thrives on a crisis. The instant endures.

via Art and design | The Guardian.

There Are 19 Comments On This Article.

  1. You might further argue that as technical boundaries fall the rise of artistry is even more crucial for success. What better time to be a photographer than now?

    • Deborah Gray Mitchell

      In my experience, the best time to be a photographer was about 20-25 years ago. It used to mean something to be a photographer…we had a certain status. Not now though. Even a blind monkey can take decent photos these days. The magic of watching a print come up in the developer cannot be matched with digital, no matter how many mega-pixels your camera shoots.

  2. Agreed. I’ve “lost” jobs to the following folks:

    Someone in the office.
    A cousin.
    A clients brother.
    Someone cheaper.
    A girlfriend.
    A student working on their book.
    A neighbor to a client who takes nature pictures.

    All of these folks have a “nice” camera with lots of megapixels. I understand the clients position wanting to save money and I mention that . I don’t get defensive and there have been a few times that I’ve offered to call the “photographer” and give them a few suggestions. A few weeks later I generally get a call to help them “fix” their problem.

    Mediocre work runs all through the business and it always has. Thoughtful photography will always survives.

  3. Photography should be intelligent and beautiful (at least from a conceptual point of view).
    Which means I don’t think there can be good photography without good ideas – that’s part of that set of creative ideas mentioned above.

  4. Photography has always been as much technology as art. That’s why it’s so hard to teach. The artistry has to be matched with an equal amount of technical ability AND ownership of good equipment.

  5. In 1989, Bill Jay was part of a symposium my professor put together to celebrate 150 years of photography. When he started talking about digital, my heart almost stopped! I thought, “Now I’ll have to learn photography all over again.” The learning curve was steep but the basic principles of knowing how to read light, composition, understand depth of field and if working with a client, making them feel relaxed while you’re doing your stuff still apply. I took my first shots in 1971, our 8th grade field trip with a camera my mother gave me. A little Certo Super Dollina II, tip out bellows, Ziess lens made Oct. 28, 1955 which I still have. Set aperture and cock the shutter and presto! I’ve all but given up doing any kind of work with exception of a small group of clients. I am however finding joy being behind the camera shooting and creating work that inspires me again. Don’t want to compete with the masses hocking their “Digital Diarrhea” for $50 bucks a session and all your images on a cd. The majority of call I get these days are price shoppers. I refer them to craigslist> creative services where they’ll fine a line of “photographers” a mile long working for cheap or nothing. The bar has been lowered so much that we all have to be careful not to trip over it.

  6. I don’t think anyone’s claiming technology in and of itself will make anyone a better creative. One thing digital does do is enable a photographer to see the photo right away and make improvements to the image faster. This has the potential to enable one to learn faster. But then Polaroid made this possible too. Each has the potential pitfall of lessening the time a photographer spends contemplating what they’re doing.

    I’ve spent the past three years shooting medium format black and white film. I know what my photos will look like without a Polaroid and often without taking a meter reading. The development, scanning and printing of the image is often vindication. I also shoot digital. Technology and equipment and all the variables involved are fun. Of course they must always be subservient to the art.

    One thing technology can’t do is lessen the time it takes one to become a seasoned pro, or to hasten the development of one’s vision. And isn’t this what we all want, to get better with time?

    Digital unfortunately allows people with less time invested to secure certain assignments that could be classified as “bread and butter” work for many pros.

    On the very positive side, digital helps photographers share their work with a much larger audience.

    In my opinion this topic as presented above is a bunch of sturm und drang.

    A… Definitely!

    A… No. It won’t

  8. The right tool for the job is important. Cutting corners and e.g. buying cut-rate lighting gear, will result in a lesser light quality and limit the photographer’s potential to create what he has in mind.

    The same goes for choosing a good crew, good models, location, a good producer and the right rep.

    It’s not that the photographer’s creativity is something completely independent that cannot be touched by circumstances.

  9. Andreas Gursky: “Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river.”


    Guardian: “Make of that what you will”

    I am glad that I am not alone in finding that Andreas’s statement makes no sense….

  10. “No Amount Of Technology Will Turn A Mediocre Photographer Into A Great One”

    No photo commentary has yet been able to define the difference between mediocre and great photography either….

  11. It never was the case. Irrelevant statement. When photography was invented (ie a new technology), painters made the same comments you are making here.

    For those who claim they have lost jobs due to technology, get another job.

    Every photo is beautiful in some way. Manipulated/Enhanced or neither.