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This and That - 26 June 2010
By admin (when...  26/06/2010 @ 10:19:19, Where Photography, linked 1003 times)
So I spotted this photograph somewhere during my wandering (drop me a line and I'll link and credit you) and it struck a chord. Advances in technology have made things a lot easier, but not always a lot better. Taking photography as the example (but this could be just as easily applied to many things, like making music or driving cars) when people first started freezing time on to paper it was a mysterious form of alchemy and magic, understood by few and practised by even fewer.
Even as technology took great strides forward and cameras stopped being the size of suitcases and the art evolved into something more and more people could do, it wasn't for "everyone". To take a photograph took a combination of skill, technique and vision, and every photograph was considered carefully. There was no auto-focus, no auto-exposure, no matrix metering, no auto everything, no zoom lens, no dedicated automatic flash, no instant view of what you did (or didn't) freeze for posterity. Sometimes you wouldn't be able to see precisely what you were taking photographs of without adapters, a cloth over your head or just a great deal of imagination.
Having a manual only camera forced photographers to understand how the camera worked, why aperture and shutter speed were important, as well as the film speed and the different characteristics the films had. There was no "fixing it with photoshop", though there were wizards who performed "shadow puppet" magic in the darkroom, not everyone was prepared to go and stand in the dark in a room often not much bigger than a cupboard for hours on end with only chemical fumes and a red light for company.
Taking good photographs was harder, even taking bad photographs was more difficult, and when something is different, not many people want to do it. Don't get me wrong, this isn't about exclusivity, it's about dedication, it's about the spirit and it's about the "art". Buying a violin does not make one a violinist, or a musician. Having a saw does not make you a carpenter, and having oil paint and an easel does not make you a painter. I think twice before calling myself a musician: I can create music, I can make songs, I produce an album of music, but I cannot play an instrument, and I don't know a crotchet from a quaver. Am I a musician? How about a person who is a classically trained pianist, who can not only read music score but also write it. Is he a musician? What about if he cannot create any music of his own at all? He isn't a composer then, nor a songwriter, but he is an instrumentalist, so perhaps musician is too strong a word?
Nowadays the rules have changed, you can buy a cheap camera and be taking pictures the moment you put the batteries in it. You can drive your car with its ABS and countless other three letter acronyms that give you skills that once took years to master, but that doesn't make you as good a driver.

What's in a name?