Who killed professional photography?

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(Companion piece to “5 Stories”. TBDR. Repetitiveness warning.


All photography and art by Jessie Carveth , unless noted. 2017-18.

 1. Everyone became a photographer.

Technology advancements, 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). Filtering programs quickly became sophisticated, and easy.

Not only did everyone in the world become photographers but artists at the same time.

A plausible definition of “surreal” photography is the most broad and simplistic (surreal) and means any tampering that leads away from the original, unfiltered capture.

If you think about it, photo art is the surrealism of photography, occurring when a camera capture is tampered with, is not shown unfiltered.

A lot of it is horrible (Snapchat monkey masks, for example). A lot of acclaimed, unfiltered photography (for example, children burned and scarred in war) is horrible.


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

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

Realism (unfiltered), no matter how expensive and fancy the equipment, how superb the symmetry, the dark/light contrast, focal point, etc., is only as good as the subject is appealing.

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Filtering and editing are different. Easy as it is, post-capture editing involves artistry, or ‘artishtry’.

Getting a snapshot doesn’t.

Editing can compel interest in ordinarily uninteresting subjects (mountains? Florida? war —whatever usually leaves a particular viewer cold).

 2. We used to shoot casually.

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

It isn’t easy being a pretentious art critic anymore,   especially the teacherly type who isn’t needed anymore.

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, though they gave in to filtering, editing, digital, color, and photoshop.



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.

Car lot,  artishtic IMG_8930

All photography and art by Jessie Carveth, 2017


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 state of professional photography in the age of everyone-is-really-good. (Continued below)

Elon Mush on Mars, where everyone died but think they survived.IMG_151

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, smartphones, tripods.

Unless you define quality as “amount of money spent on equipment”, the wedding pictures taken and edited by brothers, in-laws, friends, strangers on the street passing by, 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. Or was this taken by the bride? Or Aunt Kari, little Callum, Jr.

The differences were style and subjects. (The videographer’s style was pretentious and cheap. DIY–this isn’t 1966.)







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The Alley That Will KillIMG_7554