You know what pisses me off? It pisses me off when people respond to the statement "I'm a photographer" with a comforting smile and shrug or, worse, assume that the only kind of photographer you can be is the creepy guy who jumps around at events and with flashes blazing till you have a fit.*
You know what's wrong with this picture? I'll tell you.
Craftsmanship has left the building.
Taking pictures is too easy now and everyone is a photographer. You know what? That's great. I love that everyone gets satisfaction and joy from snapping away and well done to the camera manufacturers for making tools that are easy enough for anyone to use satisfactorily. But here's the rub: good enough is not good enough. If you are just recording holiday snaps or taking 'pics' for the evil that is Facebook (whole other rant...) then fine. But to move the world forward you have to do more than just make things good enough. You have to be great. You have to be fucking amazing. And so few people are. Don't get me wrong. Some are superb. Some are legendary. Lots are very, very good. But lots are also very, very bad. (I don't know where I'd fall on the good/bad scale and I'm not claiming I'm good/bad/fucking amazing - though I am striving for the last one.) They bring everyone else down. And so the standard declines and the level people once felt they needed to attain to be great has shifted. Way down.
Where is the craft? Where is the art? Where is the careful creation and dialogue? For a majority, it doesn't and shouldn't matter. They just wanna have fun. Cool. No prob.
But when things get easy, things also begin to become shit. I missed the time when the only way to make a photograph was to develop it and print is in the dark (I was born in the 80's...). It was hard. I've done it and loved it and know how good we have it with digital. The process wasn't better or worse than today. Let's not have that debate. It was different but, crucially, it was all that was available. Film was a chemical process. Do it yourself or ship it off. Print it yourself if you're serious. Today what is available is very quick and involves very little effort to make something that is good enough. Hell, it doesn't even cost anything. A camera comes with your phone. Snap something and post it somewhere online. BAM! Photography! Um, OK....
There's no line to cross in your education of your craft. You can draw your own line. Good? Bad? I don't know.
But what really pisses me off, after all that, is that people don't respect photography anymore. Well too few. And who can blame them? Look at what's out there. So much 'good enough'.
What got me thinking about this was a dress fitting (pics of this post). The woman who was fitting the dress was putting the material on piece by piece. It was like sculpture and it was fascinating.
The first picture in this post has a bust for modeling dresses and creating on the curves. The dress maker carefully showed me a dress she was working on. She placed the pieces of cloth over the bust. The soft material became a 3 dimensional thing. It was wonderful. I've often wondered about the change that cloth makes form spindle to suit. It was great to see it happening.
All the years this woman had amassed in learning her craft was humbling. So too with her skills. I hope people say "wow" when she tells them she's a dress maker. They should.
Let's see if we can shift the mindset of people so that when we tell them we're photographers and artists they say "Wow". And we reply, "Thanks, it's taken me 30 years to perfect my craft."
Here's some more photos from the dress-fitting:
* I've got nothing against event photography per se. Just hate those guys who become the centre of attention and are nothing but annoying. Just sayin'...