Are photographers getting better - and why?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by The_Traveler, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    I was out digging dandelions, physically engrossing but certainly not mentally taxing, and I started thinking that virtually every day I see some drop dead gorgeous shots from my fellow amateurs (on this and another board) that would be photomag quality 20 years ago.

    I talked myself through why - but I'm interested in others' opinions. - and I don't think that all the reasons are that obvious.
     
  2. blackdoglab

    blackdoglab yeah I'm easy.... but I'm not cheap

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    I think having the ability to get instant feedback online helps. This board brings in a lot of diverse folks.
     
  3. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I think they're getting worse. And I think that the digital revolution is partly to blame. The age old problems of interesting subject matter and composition have always been and will always be endemic to amateur photographers. But I think the issue of so-called photographers showing no interesting in legitimately learning about their art has increased since the "digital revolution." I can't say for sure, however, because I haven't been around long enough to personally make that solid a comparison. However, what I have seen is that there are a thousand people who run out and buy a pro-sumer SLR, take a bunch of mediocre photos, and then wonder why they're no good. I think it was Matt who said in another thread that places like this are not designed to be personal tutors for beginning photographers. To be completely honest, I actually think that it's rather disrespectful in a sense. I mean, you take someone who thinks their camera will make their shots good (and there are plenty of those people), who won't even invest the time and energy into correctly learning about things like relatively basic exposure, composition, filtering, etc. I think that it's A) Naive, then, to expect that your shots will be good, B) Disrespectful to the art form itself (that someone without a clue what they're doing actually call themselves a photographer), and C) Frankly, rather annoying sometimes is places like this. It's like you get someone who's been shooting on ISO 800, and then comes around wondering why their photos are grainy. So I don't mean to be rude, but...

    I think the ephemerality of digital photography can go both ways. On one had, you can afford to reshoot something a thousand times till you get it absolutely perfect. On the other hand, you aren't compelled to pay as much attention to your shots in the first place precisely for that reason.

    There are a lot of very good amateur photographers, but I think there are just as many, if not more poor ones than there have ever been.
     
  4. Corry

    Corry Flirtacious and Bodacious Supporting Member

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    Well of course there are! Access to equipment is a lot easier these days! The instant gratification of digital is very alluring to many...

    ...however, I don't think he was comparing the amount of good amateurs to the amount of bad ones....he was comparing the amount of good amateurs today to the amount of good amateurs 30 years ago.
     
  5. blackdoglab

    blackdoglab yeah I'm easy.... but I'm not cheap

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    Put an auto everything dslr or slr in my hands and I'll waste a roll. You do feel more inclined to just shoot at random without thinking things through.
     
  6. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I totally disagree here.

    it is simply more people showing their images around since it became so easy on the internet. so you see more of the average talent which was around always ... just 30 years ago it was hidden in private albums and slide boxes.

    but also some good things where hidden there of course, don'T get me wrong ;)

    also today more people use cameras. if in the old days 5 of my friends/colleagues/relatives were using cameras, then one maybe had significant talent and produced nice images. .. today it might be 50, of which 10 are producing images worth to show.

    in absolute numbers you are right, the number of people mediocre shots has risen from 4 to 40, but the fraction remains the same more or less.

    also, today, mediocre photographers produce more images per photographer...
     
  7. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    It's a combinations of things.

    Equipment is cheaper and easier to use + easier to share said pictures + easier to get critiqued on pictures = More good shots.

    Computers are not doubt the culprit here. not only in the camera, making them more effecient, but also making it easier to share/edit/enjoy the pics.

    The end result is I can replicate a picture that 50 years ago would've been signigicant, and now I have to go above and beyond that get the same reaction.
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    No. And are they getting worse? No again. I think Alex summed it up... we just see more photographs now. Before the internet, there could be a number of people in your town with the skill and the talent, and unless you were involved in some local group or happened to see each other out shooting, how would you know? With the internet you see the work of local, national and internation photographers. You don't have to seek them out, they advertise. Now personally, if I know that one particular forum or site tends to have mediocre images, then I don't frequent it. I will tend to stick to those with a number of really good photographers producing work that I like. More people now have and use cameras (even if only in their phone), and we see the results a lot more than before, but that doesn't actually make the average quality any better.

    Another thought, on whether digital photography and the internet make it easier to get into photography, or to be a better photographer... When scanning some relatives' old negatives and slides, I realised that the majority were very well-exposed. Now these would have been taken without any electronic program modes; at the most some may have been taken using a very basic meter. They were also pretty well composed. These people weren't very serious about photography, it was just their holiday snaps. I suspect that not endlessly comparing specs or technologies left them more time to learn some basics of exposure and to think about what was in the viewfinder. Of course a lot of people would have been put off by the technical aspects... and nowadays digital is supposedly some great democratising force... but it hasn't become any easier to persuade people to learn if they don't want to. For everyone who asks for critiques on a forum, there are more people wondering what's wrong with their camera because their photos are no good. People who want to learn and progress will do so, just as they always did.
     
  9. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    Zaphod... Im not sure about that. Could it be the only pictures SAVED from that time period are the photos WORTH saving?

    It seems to me the MAJORITY of photographs taken between 1965 - 1979 in my family's albums are underexposed, have no white balance leaving the colors muddled, and the ones with flash are horrible.
     
  10. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    my pictures from my slide negative times and my slide times are very similar to what I produce today
     
  11. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    RMT... I did wonder about that and asked... I think they saved pretty much everything. I had to sort the ones worth scanning from the shots of random goats etc :lol:

    Anyway I didn't mean to say that everyone 'back in the day' took better photos. My point (if I had one, which is doubtful) was that with film it wasn't really that hard to learn and improve if you actually thought about it. I've heard it said before that film photography was somehow hard to get into, and now we're living in some golden age where anyone can learn. I disagree. Yes information is more readily available, but so is misinformation and misconception. You can learn a lot from the internet, but sometimes you really need to be selective. So I don't think it's inherently a better (nor worse) time to be a photographer now.

    Oh and regarding the photos you describe... bear in mind if they were taken now with a digital p&s they might be overexposed, oversaturated... and the built-in flash would still be horrible ;)

    In other words... Plus ça change... :lol:
     
  12. Orgnoi1

    Orgnoi1 TPF Noob!

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    I think the statement can be construed as a double edged sword...

    I think the ART of photography is dying a slow death... meaning that with the introduction of "dumbed down" equipment any person who likes to shoot snapshots is now a photographer. 15-20 years ago you could talk to photographers and they knew about developing, about films, about equipment. Of course back then there were people who bought instamatic cameras and there were people buying pro cameras... but since the digital age the playing field has significantly leveled, and even beginners can produce images and IF they are cocky enough to profess to being a professional then people listen.

    Quite frankly not too many people that I shoot with now (who arent in some way doing this as a serious hobby) could just pick up my Mamiya TL Pro and figure out the aperture and shutter... take light readings... adjust for the film and take 15 GOOD pictures... but I do know that you can give someone a camera... put it on the green square and let anyone fire away...producing at least halfway decent images.

    I DO agree though that you cant judge by this or any other number of forums out there... as the reason we are all here is because (I hope) we all love photography and enjoy learning about it. I dont feel that you cannot learn a thing from places like here, NEF, FM, etc like was stated though... I dont ever have a problem lending a helping hand when I can... and if you are truelly passionate about your photography I dont see why anyone else would either... my $0.0245 for what its worth...
     

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