Does Photography Actually Take Skill Anymore?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by tastybasslines, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. tastybasslines

    tastybasslines Banned

    May 9, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I noticed recently that there seems to be so many photographers among my friends on Facebook. I feel like I know so many now, real in the flesh friends, or online.

    And it makes sense. It's so easy to take good photos these days. You have high quality auto-focusing digital cameras with tons of cheap storage. They can easily snap photo after photo after photo with great speed, to the point where after said event, you can sort through literally thousands of photos if you wanted and have tons of pics to choose from. How could you not end up getting some great shots?

    Also, post editing is easier now than ever. It's super easy now to clean up shots, alter them etc. Most people with even average levels of technical skill can do this.

    Aside from basics such as composition and having a knack for being in the right place at the right can there be any level of skill involved other than taking photos in mass? Is there some skill in getting emotion out of people or in setting up shots?

    It just seems to me that any average Joe could be a photographer.
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
  3. The affordability certainly helps, even low end consumer cameras can produce damned good results. Digital sensors have come a long way in the past 10 years and even the lens quality in lower end cameras has come on a fair way.

    The skill in getting emotion, is to try not to. Other than portrait-type work, the best pictures of people are those where the person doesn't realise the camera is there.

    While it may be easier for the average Joe to get great pictures, there is still a big gap between those who just pick up and snap vs those who do it for a living (in my opinion).

    *en masse
  4. Doctor_Clock

    Doctor_Clock The Moon Machine Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I agree partially, it is a lot easier for the average Joe or Jane to take better shots than in the past, but it still takes someone with an artistic eye to take really great ones consistently. Also I now notice that even with the fancy options on most phones or cameras people still tend to take terrible photos as well. I say keep making it easier to do things, it will only force the people that love to do it, do it more, and do it better.
  5. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    Does making music actually take skill anymore?
    Gravedigger Dav likes this.
  6. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    It's easier to take a lot of photos and get a couple of OK shots.
    But a very high quality photo still takes work and knowledge. Would you hire just and chub with a dSLR to shoot your wedding?
    What sets really good photographers apart is their understanding of light and framing. Sure, you can happen upon good lighting and get a decent shot when you hold the shutter down and get 100 pictures. But it still won't compare to what a pro can achieve.
    Automatic settings can only be training wheels for so long.

    And that doesn't even cover the process in post.

    Gear is easier and cheaper to get now, but just like a new player going out and buying a Sadowsky, you're not a pro just because you dropped a couple of grand on a body and lenses.

    Case in point: TB classifieds. I don't remember the last time I saw what I'd consider even a good picture there, which amazes me considering people are trying to sell $2k + basses with cell phone quality, out of focus shots.
  7. phatcyclist


    Jan 29, 2014
    Austin, TX
    I don't think the act of taking a picture takes any skill, however, taking a good photograph where the intended subject material is "framed" correctly is an art-form.
  8. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    In the past photographers were the ones hunting for pictures while the rest of the people limited the use of the camera for special occasions. These days many people carry a camera with them all the time so it is easy to be in right spot at right time.
  9. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    A bit of the same thing happened with graphic design for similar reasons. From 2000 and on suddenly everybody was a graphic designer. Most of them sucked, they knew the tools but didnt have any good creative idea.
  10. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    You're right about all I think, but then the art work has to be set apart if 10 billion people are taking photos; it makes the market tougher.
    so yes it does take skill.

    As a semi-pro photographer I've seen the market dwindle to nothing: magazines ask interns to shoot photos instead of hiring phtogs or they figure out a way to get around hiring. A recent article I saw on the band Warpaint was:
    we gave Warpaint a few disposable cameras and this is what happened.
    There were intimate shots. Some were good. The majority were snapshots but really what do you expect and what do you want to see? People do the same at weddings. Not for primary work but crowd/details. Leave a disposable digital camera on every table at the reception & ask people to use them. Or now, there's hashtagging.
    Some topics still call for legit, not-cute, not-instagram photography, full format digital or film. it's just hard to get that kind of work.
    But you're right--everyone is a photographer now.
  11. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    IME, good photographs are 85% seeing, 10% timing, and 5% equipment.
    It's now trivial to obtain a well-focused, perfectly exposed image.
    And that's perfectly adequate for most users.
    It's even perfectly adequate for me, most of the time, when I'm just trying to document something.
    It's when I'm looking to make a _good_ photograph that seeing the image I want in my mind's eye, setting up for it, and picking the perfect moment come into play.

    The similarity to music was a good one.
    You can pretty easily make a level-balanced auto-tuned pitch-correct recording of sound. Making music still takes skill - and usually talent ;-)
  12. I take hundreds of pictures. A friend of mine puts his on Facebook too, and compared to mine, his are always streets ahead. He just takes better pictures. His composition and eye for catching the moment win over mine hands down.
  13. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    I had a professor who used to say "why should I look at your photo?" Not to be a jerk but to say, it better be good/don't waste my time or yours.

    go through flickr or google and you'll see there are millions & millions of mediocre snapshots. I don't care what people ate it can't be that interesting. If you're looking at things critically then you'll shoot/create more critically. Not to sound like a pompous ass but there's a difference between art & uninspired artifacts.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  14. A friend of mine is a very talented photographer, and commands a ton of money for his work. He has shown me how to use my DSLR, how to frame a photo, think about lighting ect. He can still take a better photo with an iPhone and ten seconds, than I could with all his equipment and an hour. He is an artist, I click buttons.

    Groove Doctor likes this.
  15. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    I think as with anything else technology, mass manufacture, and telecommunication have given nearly everyone the tools to be a great photographer. Whether or not they are actually any good is another matter entirely. So in a way being a GOOD photographer is strictly a matter of skill at this point since any Tom, Dick, or Harry can take professional quality (actual file/print/etc, not subject matter and content) shots.
  16. tastybasslines

    tastybasslines Banned

    May 9, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    One guy on my FB in particular seems to take great shots. I think it is because of what inspires him - he seems to take pics of things few others would think of. From that standpoint, I see the artistry, but I am not sure how much better he would be if he were taking pictures for a wedding for example.
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The concepts of composition (such as rule of thirds, diagonals, S-curves, etc), exposure, depth of field and angle of light can never be disregarded.

    Turning an OK photo into a memorable one depends on having command of the concepts of photography and executing them well. Doesn't matter whether it's on film, digital, with an SLR or camera phone.
    TomB likes this.
  18. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    Anybody can snap a half-decent shot a point.

    The downfall of point-and -shoots is shots where it takes supplemental lighting. The flashes on most point and shoots are a joke........and the number one source of "red eye".

    Since the point-and-shoot makers can't deal with the flash issue (it being that the flash is too close to the camera and that's why you get red eye) they give you editing software for red-eye removal.......doesn't always work and it's a pain in the butt.

    The flash power on p & s's is usually not even bare minimum for portrait photos....nor do you have the angle coverage.

    Since most p &s's are some sort of zoom lens trade off "speed" for that. Speed being how fast the light will transmit through the lens at lower f-stop settings.....

    A "fast" Nikon lens would be down around 1.0 or 1.2.

    Most cheap p & s zooms the lowest is 3 or 3.5.....much slower in low light.

    The amount of mega-pixels doesn't automatically elevate you into a good picture.........A 5mp camera in the hands of a pro can be very the hands of a rank amateur it isn't going to help any if he uses a 16mp camera.

    Light meters on point/shoots are generally not as good as SLR's.

    What separates many pro's from amateurs is the ability to "read" light. That is a real gift if you have it.

    There are composition 'The Law Of Thirds" and "Vanishing Points" that a lot of everyday people don't know about.......and can definitely make a picture better.

    But for flash photography...where you might use multiple flashes and "slaves" as well as "dedicated " flashes and also "fill" flash.......then the point and shoot is of little use .

    Film for pro use still has it's advantages.......but the digital SLR's ability to see what you shot immediately is a Godsend too.

    To be really good consistently takes skill though.
  19. My mom and my wife can have all the tech in the world and still not take good photos. :bag:
  20. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Does Photography Actually Take Skill Anymore?
    The same could be asked of music.

    And the answer is, yes it does.