Friday, February 6, 2015

You Can Do It

Photography, with the advent of digital cameras and all the associated software, has reached a point where (roughly) if you can imagine it, you can shoot it.

Not quite, perhaps. If you can imagine it, it can certainly be shot. You might not be able to shoot it, but with a little patience and a little education on whatever specific techniques are required, you can get close.

The ability to chimp is huge here, people don't talk about it much. Indeed, the self-styled Photographers tend to be derisive about chimping, but they are fools. In context, chimping lets us hunt for the photograph, and ultimately, to find it. Or at any rate to get close enough to finish it in post. Then in post, the ability to try something, undo it and try again, ad infinitum completes the process. If you can imagine it, you can shoot it.

This is important. This means that the idea, the concept, is all there really is. If I can imagine it, I can shoot it. And so can anyone else. Technique is no longer a meaningful metric. My brushwork is not going to separate me from the other painters. My unique talent with the chisel will not be the hallmark of my distinctive sculpture.

All that remains is the idea. All you have to offer, ultimately, is your voice, your vision, your ideas.

Once upon a time, you could just go out there and work like crazy and duplicate what Galen Rowell or Edward Weston did, and it was something. Perhaps you didn't have any ideas, but at least you were a master craftsman, practicing hard-won skills with a proficiency that most people simply could not match. No more. Any fool can do it, and a glance at any photo sharing web site filled with Photographers will show you this. Even if you insist on doing it the hard way, even if you insist on using techniques that most people cannot master, who cares? The results aren't substantively different from a moderately skilled Photoshop user.

Digital cameras have democratized photography, anyone can do it.

At the same time, the have empowered us, they have distilled the Art to its essence, the concept, the idea, the vision.

That's kind of a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment