Perhaps I've been reading too much LuLa lately, but it strikes me that we're constantly subjected to a drumbeat based on the notion of "the craft of photography." You can probably visualize the old bearded guy with the meaty, moist, lips rambling on tediously about "crahft" and reminiscing about the darkroom and The Fine Print.
Now, to be sure, I am not opposed to craft as a general idea. Doing a decent job at taking and printing pictures is great, and far be it from me to judge someone who wants to devote what seem to be absurd efforts to getting the smallest details Just So. It's your Art, make it the way you want it to be.
The trouble is that "crahft" is used to smuggle in a bunch of unsavory stuff, and it's that stuff I object to.
The first thing is that "crahft" discussions usually lead more or less directly to tools, and we learn about how craftsmen, true craftsmen, insist on the very best tools. Craft, after all, is about precision, attention to detail, an obsession with the smallest elements. Which, to an extent, is true. Except for the part about the very best tools.
While there are certainly craftsmen who have carefully organized shops filled with the best tools, this more accurately describes the moneyed dilettante. More often than not, a proper craftsman's shop will look like a shed into which garbage has been shoved for 30 years. Sally Mann, in a short film attached to her current show, describes with evident delight how she broke her ground glass, and now uses a piece of ordinary clear glass which she has covered with scotch tape. I am not making this up. I saw this object in the film. Now that's a craftsman.
So, when some old bugger with a long white beard and thick moist lips slips inevitably from "crahft" to discussion of how important it is to have the latest Sony A17 WhateverTheFuckIII, he's pulling a fast one. Either he doesn't actually know anything about "crahft" in the first place (likely), or he's selling something (probably), or he's justifying his own recent purchase of some silly gizmo (almost certainly).
Onwards to the second thing smuggled in with the discussion of craft.
If it's craft and highly technical and you need the best tools then surely it is also very hard. Right?
I know how to do a lot of things toleraby well. I can bake a loaf of sourdough bread, I can cut dovetails, I can paint a wall, I can write, illustrate, and bind a book. Some of these things are harder than photography. None of them is easier.
Photography is pretty easy. Sure, you can work away at it, and get really really good at it (which I am not, particularly) and things come more smoothly and easily, and you get to the right answers faster than I do. Just like anything, you can always expend effort and get better. Just because you spent 1000 hours learning how to light and are now truly, legitimately, really good at it, doesn't mean that it's inherently hard. If you'd spent those hours on making cakes, you'd be damned good at making cakes. If you'd spent that time learning how to cut dovetails, well, let's be honest, you probably still wouldn't be that good at cutting dovetails unless you're some kind of dovetail savant.
The old bugger talking about "crahft" might not be selling a WunderCamera 2000, he might be selling you a workshop.
I print about as well as I do a bunch of other things, which is to say, "not bad, not brilliant, but not bad". I came into photography in the glory days of roll film, when the best emulsions ever were being introduced, when multigrade papers were getting really good (another thing: Sally Mann uses Ilford MG, so there) and so on. I can find my way around a darkroom, and honestly, it's not that hard. See above.
These days, almost nobody wants to go back to the darkroom. There's a lot of excuses, but the answer underlying it all is that digital is a hell of a lot easier.
Back in ye olde wet plate dayes, sure, there was some serious technical stuff, some real physical skills to master. By the time I started in, if you could follow simple recipes, you could shoot, develop, print, just fine. At least black and white. And now things are much much easier.
It's just not that hard. The degree-of-difficulty has been steadily trending downward since 1840, and we've reached the point where anyone can do it.
So, when someone starts talking about "craft", or worse, "crahft", just tune out. No need to be mean about it, but you don't have to pay attention either.