Has the "democratization" of photography decreased its quality and creativity?

Here's an interesting article with some hidden gems of observation (especially about photography being motivated by instant gratification and validation), if you can avoid getting derailed by incredulity at the arrogance of a panel of judges giving every (paid) entrant a slap in the face by declaring that not ONE of 500 entries was worthy of a single award. Hmmm…

Anyway, back to the titular argument… 

I agree that there is a much greater volume of mediocre-to-bad photography today, in terms of creativity or content, than ever… but if you remove the hordes of selfies, iPhone food porn, i-anything tourist snaps, and incessantly circulating photos of cat, dog, pot-bellied pigs… um, you get the idea… is what’s left any better or worse than what people were doing before? Remember when Instant Polaroid was for stupid party photos, not art school?

Let’s also leave aside the argument that there is actually value in the spontaneous sharing of beautiful moments, funny observations and wry commentary, via a myriad of social media, that brings people together and allows them to experience what you are experiencing. Right. Now.

So, is photography losing its creativity?

I would argue not. Remove all the aforementioned (along with the millions of images, both hobbyist and professional, that are technically amazing, but have no creativity) and you would still have an astounding mass of intriguing, thoughtful, expressive, artistic and creative images. Of course we are a bit jaded now from being able to see so much phenomenal photography with the click of a button, and maybe you have to search a little to get past the chaff, but there is still much out there to inspire.

Here’s an interesting observation from a professional photographer I know, who maintains that levelling the technical playing field of photography (cameras that almost take the image for you) has enabled many creative people to become image-makers: they no longer have to filter their vision through someone else’s technical ability. 

Maybe the real message is that content and creativity has always been key, but the new challenge is coming up with images that can impart a fresh perspective to a world of jaded eyes.



The pieces shown above are from a couple of photographers with thought-provoking work:

  1. http://www.erwinolaf.com/index.html#/portfolio/  Erwin Olaf fashion, art, hyper-artificial with a strong underlying point of view. 
  2. http://www.kylethompsonphotography.com/  Kyle Thompson a conceptual exploration of (largely) self portraits as he travels throughout abandoned areas of the US.

  3. http://www.eugeniorecuenco.com/fichas/1199.html  Eugenio Recuenco prolific, quirky, large-scale productions and manipulations of an over-active imagination.