Who killed professional photography?

We all did

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1.  Everyone became a photographer.

Technology advanced, the evolution from snapshot to photo art happened at lightning speed, forcing professionals and other photography critics to devise new ways to feel superior (about pictures made by a machine).

Added to the new camera equipment, tools for image editing (or retouch, filter, post-capture, photoshop) quickly became sophisticated and very easy.

Not only did everyone in the world become photographers, but post-capture artists as well.IMG_1729

Image editing programs wrenched serious photography from members-only darkrooms, galleries, and magazines.

Making something like art from a camera capture requires care, some attention, interest, but not talent.

Realism (no edit), no matter how expensive and fancy the equipment, how superb the symmetry, the dark/light contrast, focal point, etc., is interesting only if the subject is.

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No-filter documents.CE9128EE-E972-43C6-8911-71D33B7CB873.jpeg

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Photo art has a different impact. Post-capture process involves machine artistry, or ‘artishtry’, a skill that is ridiculously easy to learn.18st

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2. We used to shoot casually

To share on social and other media, photographers (everyone) have to pass through a warehouse of filtering options, and if these options are made use of, artishtry is created.

It isn’t easy being a pretentious art critic anymore,  especially the teacherly type who appreciates film or pixel talk.

So many people became really good photographers in such a short amount of time.

The arbiters of real vs. amateur, who try resisting the apps for the masses, have ingenious ways to insist they still own photography.

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3. Research

One year. A sample of people taking pictures, not identifying as professionals, who started sharing their photography on social media at least once a week (not only on vacation, for example) were tracked.

The improvement in picture quality after a short period of time was dramatic. Most became careful for the first time, eyes opened, interested in a more serious level of picture production.

That wasn’t the surprise.

The surprise was that within a year it was difficult to tell the difference between the work of those who identify as professionals, and everyone else.

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4. Research II

She was closely involved for a year in activity leading up to a particular wedding, which allowed a rich opportunity for research on the troubled professional photographer.


A still photographer was hired.

A videographer was hired.

All the friends and family took pictures, too, a ton.

The couple took pictures.

There was film. There was digital. There were zoom lenses on Leicas, and tripods, and phones.

Unless you define quality as amount of money spent on equipment, the wedding pictures taken and edited by brothers, in-laws, friends, strangers passing by on the street, were  indistinguishable from those taken by the hired professionals.

Afterwards, looking at mountains of pictures, no one had any idea who took what.

The Very Experienced Old Guy Professional Wedding Photographer or the Hipster Videographer? Was this taken by the bride? Or Aunt Kari, little Callum, Jr.

The difference was style, meaning that the videographer’s style was pretentious and stingy. Conclusion: DIY–this isn’t 1966.

More rough draft commentary

Even rougher, wordier here

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contact info: jessiecarveth@gmail.com

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