As you might imagine, I had a number of good conversations last week. It tends to happen when photographers get together, thankfully. I’ll try to bring those conversations together as well as some other things that I’ve heard, in particular, concerning the future of photography.
I was talking to Anita and she was saying that she’s learned which questions to answer and which to not answer. She indicated a willingness to share information such that when someone comes up to her at an art show and asks: “How did you do that?”, previously, she would launch into a detail technical discussion of how she did the photo, including post-processing information. Often, she said, they would get a glazed look in their eyes, probably sorry that they asked the question. She learned that the question was basically, rhetorical, and only meant as a conversation starter. Now, she answers the question with ease and moves on to other things, glossing over the details and just making conversation.
In talking to Ibarionex about a class that he is teaching, based on his book, Chasing The Light, I told him about a post that I had written about aperture not being important anymore and asked if he taught it. The answer was, no. He said his class focuses only on exposure, light, color, and composition. It’s a one-day class. The students are not interested in the technical details of photography, only the result. Even though I like to know the “how”, this seems to make sense. I watch the number of technical things that Tony uses, on a daily basis, especially his smartphone, and he hasn’t a clue of how it works, nor does he care. He only wants it to work, same for the wireless connection – the how is strictly unimportant.
In a comment here, Cedric posited that in the future, such words as aperture, ISO, etc, might become obsolete and camera operation would become, in essence, a side affect of getting the photo. Further, perhaps things like depth of field would be handled in-camera, with software, making sensor size immaterial. Users would want to point the camera, have it make the decisions, and get the photo, much like cellphone cameras work now. No muss. No fuss. However, I think that the professional market, and those hangers-on, such as myself, will still like a bit of control in the whole thing.
As photography evolves I guess that I have to agree with Cedric, things will get simpler, more abstract. To form an analogy: When I took carpentry in high school, they taught us how houses use to be built, and we were building them a different, ‘better’ way. We learned how to read blueprints, etc; Now, houses are, for the most part, prefabricated at the factory, placed on a flatbed truck, and driven to the site. There, they are assembled in the manner same as a child’s toy: Tab A, goes into Slot B. In the end, it’s a completely constructed house. The guys who built it may have never seen a ‘real blueprint’, nor know how to read one, but it doesn’t make it any less of a house just because it was built without knowing every detail.
As the sun was setting and the light was getting that beautiful evening warmth, I saw streams of people coming out, some with cellphones, others with point & shoots, and a few with SLRs and tripods. They all came to take photos. I couldn’t help but wonder what, if anything, did they want to know about making more satisfying photos, if anything, or where they just there to take a few snaps to put on their Facebook page? Also, as the thought always occurs to me, what would I teach in a one-day, 4 – 6 hour class that was open to anyone with a camera, regardless of the type of camera? I enjoy the details, but not everyone does …