Photography in the blink of an eye?

Anyone over a certain age’s first contact with photography will be like mine, brittle snaps kept under a sheets of plastic, carefully arranged in bulky books kept out of reach of your grubby child’s fingers. Or maybe going to the developers after waiting two weeks to be given a shiny paper wallet, eager to find out which ones had turned out and which were blurred messes with a little sticker on them. the point is photography was limited, something that you had to wait for, and when you got it its successes were treated with reverence, physical objects to be kept in books or displayed in frames.

In less than ten years the technology has changed so much, with the ability to take a thousand shots and see the results instantly, everybody and anybody has become almost chronic documentors of their own lives, photographs still have some value but rarely are they treated with the same reverence. Often dumped onto hard drives or put up on photo sharing sites to be dismissively ‘liked’ or commented on. But photographers still found a trade, photography attracting people who are interested in the specialised technology and process meant that even when that technology changed most were able to keep up with and revel in those changes. And there is always a market for people who have a unique vision, people who can take that vision and share it with the world.

Then people started being able to take photos with their phones, little devices that they carried with them constantly and instantly share them with whoever they like in seconds. And with these devices came selections of filters and graphics they could add to those pictures, even the most casual of user adding the word ‘photographer’ to their resume, normally along with ‘blogger’ ‘artist’ and ‘hacky sack player’. But are these people photographers, do they and the millions of poorly framed, soft focus, pictures of their lunch actually devalue ‘real’ photography? what is ‘real photography’ anyway?

Some would argue, whether you like it or not they are ALL photographers, and the real questions whether they are good photographers or bad ones. Millions of bad or average photographs means that the nuance between good and great photographers is becoming smaller and smaller. and probably it is here that ‘real’ photographers live.

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Danny Smith