First I would like to apologize for the cheesy title to this post, but I couldn’t resist. Video killed the Radio Star? More like iPhone killed the photography star (get it?). Well, maybe.
This blog post was inspired by an article I read recently in The Guardian titled “The death of photography: are camera phones destroying the art form?” In an age of camera phones, Instagram filters, and constant selfies, it seems safe to say yes; but in the photography world that discussion is far from simple. These days, anyone with a phone or decent digital camera can be a photographer. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you could capture a stunning, emotional, inspiring image with just your iPhone, or you could end up with 50 photos of your half-off sushi from Tsunami with an old-timey filter.
People say photography is a dying art, but I don’t believe that. To me, it feels like all art is dying. Which is great for us Graphic Design and Vis Com majors out there looking to make a living on just that. I hear the same things over and over again, “Photography is soooooo easy! Anyone can learn Photoshop! Have you ever thought about being a business major?” People don’t respect the arts anymore. Now that everyone has a camera and every Adobe tutorial you could dream of is available online, it seems that there is just less demand for those in creative fields. What people fail to realize that photography, graphic design, painting, ceramics are all skills in the same way that business administration, marketing, accounting, and economics are all skills. People in both these fields work hard to excel in their subject of choice, so why is it that the arts get the short end of the stick? People buy a new digital camera and suddenly they’re a photographer or download Adobe Illustrator and magically they become a designer. You would never hear someone say, “I’m pretty good working with Microsoft Excel, I could definitely do the job of an accountant.” But yet over and over again the artists of the world are having their trade overcome by anyone and everyone who can buy the right equipment and programs.
The Guardian article explores both sides of the argument; some photographers believe the camera phone has desensitized us and made us lazy, while others praise the ease and convenience of the iPhone for capturing shots in the moment. So which is more important, taking a technically correct photograph or taking a photograph capturing a crucial moment in our lives. I believe there’s a time and a place for both. The camera phone is great for allowing people to record their lives, share memories, and capture unexpected moments, but that doesn’t mean professional photographers should be any less respected because of it. The camera phone and point-and-shoot digital age have made us lazy, we can take hundreds of shots and just by coincidence one of them is bound to be good. But, the ground-breaking, influential, and inspiring images that pull at our heart strings and make us reevaluate our lives, those are no accident. You all know these kinds of images I’m talking about. The Execution of a Viet Cong Guerrilla, Migrant Mother, Tiananmen Square. These are the kinds of images that will keep photography alive.