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TECHNOLOGY vs TALENT!

I use my iPhone all the time – and I love using it – I shoot a lot of my personal work with my iPhone and the quality and enlargements are can be amazing when processed properly! That being said, I wonder what our clients would say if we showed up to shoot a high-end product or jewelry shoot with an iPhone. I think it would have a huge effect on our credibility as professionals, decrease customer confidence dramatically, and even worse –  the quality of the final images would be drastically affected.

I have always been a fan of photography my whole life, that’s how I earn my living. In the 29 years since I graduated from RIT, I have never had a job that was not photography related, so as you can well imagine I am constantly exposed to many attitudes and different points of view in the photographic community. I have friends and colleagues in all areas of the industry….newbies, amateurs, professionals and everything in-between. There are many talented iPhoneographers out there to be sure and I am constantly inspired by their work, and no one can deny that there are a lot of amazing moments captured with the iPhone daily, but even my iPhone colleagues will tell you that iPhones have their limitations – all cameras do.

Yes- I’ve heard it before – “With today’s technology and new cameras, anyone can be a photographer”.  The reality though, is that all of the technologies and new cameras are just tools – how you utilize those tools to create and express your vision is what will always make the difference.

Photographers like Irving Penn, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh, Dorothea Lange, Jerry Ulsman, Annie Liebovitz, Jay Maizel, Robert Mapplethorpe, Steve McCurry, Mary Ellen Mark, Hemut Newton, Brian Duffy, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and William Eugene Smith (just to name a few) – didn’t create iconic images because they had new technology. They created amazing images because they had vision, insight, and talent. They understood light and composition and instinctively knew how to use that light to create the impact in the images they captured. They communicated by using their creativity and mastering composition and light.

In Commercial Photography using the right tools for the right job is paramount to delivering the best image possible for the assignment. I know you can build lots of things with a hammer and nails, but in a competitive marketplace, you often need ‘power tools’ combined with artistry, technique and the experience to take your product to the next level, and deliver something that will ultimately impress your customer and make your work stand apart. It’s no different with any profession –  photography or otherwise.

I really can’t comment on other industries or professions and how they are impacted by these new technologies but as far as mine goes – The impact has been huge for sure. And many of my colleagues have since gone out of business because they were unable to adapt quickly enough. Yes, on the one hand, the market has been flooded by lots of fauxtographers and delusional souls who think they are the next best thing because they own the latest cameras. The abuse of technology and the haphazard way in which some people choose to use it has in many ways, muddied the waters of respectably for many in the noble profession of photography.

In far too many cases, technology has practically become a dirty word in photography: the misplaced suggestion is that it offers the photographer a shortcut. It implies that even more maligned concept still: uniformity and a lack of uniqueness and therefore little value. But I would argue that the cameras and software are just tools like the brushes and paint. It is how we use and control the tool that creates the style and vision of the artist and its worth.

You may own the best digital cameras, computers and state of the art tools and devices – but if you are not a creative thinker, a good problem solver, and you have not put in the time and effort to learn from the brilliant visionaries who paved the way in your particular profession – then all you are just a person who owns cool technology. Like I said earlier you won’t get very far if “the driver cannot drive”! You have to have something to say and a way to connect visually with your audience.

So while technology may, be having a negative impact in certain areas of our profession ( I guess its all a matter of perspective) in my opinion, there are far more examples of undeniable improvements that are enriching our lifestyles. I truly believe that in the right hands, digital cameras, can usher in a new unparalleled age of creativity and innovation with unimaginable possibilities.

For me books, culture, art, critical thinking are the things that feed my soul; I’ve said it before- a  smartphone or any other digital camera, is like a paint brush or pen, it is simply a tool. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages of modern technology and the debate will no doubt continue for decades to come as technology continues to advance and change. It is certain that digital photography will continue to be part of our lives and will heavily influence the way we work, live, and interact; whether it be in positive or negative ways seems to be in the choices that each person makes in how they choose to use technology in their individual life.

So it really doesn’t matter if you have the coolest, fastest, most fuel efficient race car on the planet – you’re not going to win the race without a talented driver! Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you have the hippest, highest resolution, professional or point and shoot camera on the market – you’re not going to create prize-winning photographs consistently without the vision and expertise of a talented, creative photographer behind the lens!

Yes, cameras and lenses are getting better, but no matter how advanced, expensive or ‘great’ they are – they know nothing. They cannot see – they have no creative vision or instinct. There do not come with an Ansel Adams, or Edward Weston button in the back. They do not have a ‘Decisive Moment” indicator light in their viewfinder. No matter what camera you may own. The most important piece of gear for any photographer is their brain and your point of view!

And as far as I know – ” There isn’t an APP for that!

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent efforts.” – John Ruskin

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