Some Inconvenient Truths — The Actual State of Photography Affairs

Don’t shoot the messenger! These are tidbits heard here and there. Agree or disagree with the points raised below. If you’re a confident shutterbug good at what you’re doing, then there is no need to listen to all this. If, however, you find yourself sometimes caught between expectations too high and photos that don’t really correlate to your expectations, well here we go and extend the list as you please:

1. We don’t like to admit it, but photography is more about equipment than photography.

The really talented photographer tricks any equipment into doing what you want it to do. Right. Truth is, money buys talent. Slow AF and high noise are real issues. The right gear can work magic while the really talented photographer is still trying to get the any-equipment to capture what he or she wants. Why face a steep learning curve when expensive equipment can do.

Especially in photography, not everything is what it seems to be.
Especially in photography, not everything is what it seems to be.
2. Fight GAS

There is nothing inherently wrong with being a gearheads or collector, but it is a vicious cycle that doesn’t truly improve technique and photography – and therefore doesn’t bring true satisfaction. Just mind gearheads. They might put you on the wrong track and you succumb to gear acquisition syndrome, commonly called GAS (= bragging rights?).

3. Perfect RAW world…

Photoshopping is a big no-no in photojournalism. Yet most photos we marvel at are heavily processed. The real world doesn’t know the blacks so deep you can hide inside them, and facial skin so clean and wrinkle-free without blemishes that only exists in soap operas. To lightroom and photoshop is not always OK. It’s a shortcut that, in the end, makes every possible gear acceptable. Get that iPhone shot look like a HDR high-res full-frame capture. No problem. Where’s the challenge?

4. Not quality, but quantity, sharing and instantaneity matter…

Today, when everything’s possible and everything has a right to exist, photography is less and less about quality. Maybe it doesn’t even matter anymore if photos are all that good or not. Because even the proxy paparazzi armed with a smartphone can shoot a wedding. Then run the photos through apps and filters, et voilà, the photos must be good because they’re instantly online, shared and liked. The loser is the one who doesn’t share his art for free. He’s a dying breed. Because today anyone can always hire anyone to shoot a wedding for a song.

5. There’s not too much magic to photography, just do it!

Photography is easier than we’d like to admit. The step from the indecisive to the decisive moment may take years. Slowly one develops the craft and learns to capture lighting properly, but some of the best photographs are shot spontaneously, might even be blurred and over- or underexposed. Perfection is not what makes a photo great. Great photography is not about sharpness or bokeh. It’s about the moment. And only people with educated eyes can see the last 20% anyway. Not much to do with gear and technique.

6. Face it, every digital camera is a looser.

The moment you drive a brand new car out of the showroom, this very moment the car loses a third of its value. The moment you buy a brand new camera, this moment a third of its value is gone. Just like that, without even pressing the shutter once. A camera can be a money-spinner when properly mastered and therefore be one of the best investments. In general, however, buying a camera is like burning money — especially when buying a very expensive camera that does everything slightly faster better than others. A $3k camera today become worthless within a short period of time — while everything is getting better. Imagine you spend $10k on a camera with lens — or you spend half of it for similar resolution, glass and sensor size. How much better will the twice as expensive photos really be? What if you’d spend the other $5k on a trip to anywhere in the world from where you return with a nice portfolio? Same money, not the same yield.

7. Know thy gear. Why not stick to one camera, one lens.

Try zooming with your feet, and today’s resolution allows for generous cropping. Seriously, how much of what you have you really need?