Has Technology Compromised the Value of Photography?

Has the art of photography died, or has it evolved into something else?

Once upon a time, the art of photography was not viewed as an art; it was simply referred to as a mechanical job. People would carry sheets of glass on their backs for days just to capture one beautiful shot across the country, and that one shot they traveled so far to take would take several minutes to capture because faster technology didn’t exist at the time. Photographers traveled with an entourage of people (similar to how full-blown Hollywood movie productions operate today) just to take one photo.


A tribute to the first photo recorded in 1826 Nicephre Niepces; View from the Window at Les Gras

Last month, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off their entire photography staff and announced their plan to use freelancers to capture news coverage from now on. It’s sad, but the blame can’t fully be put on the Chicago Sun-Times. Unfortunately, they seem to be doing what’s necessary in order for them to survive in the high-tech age we live in.

In order to keep up in the media war, it only stands to reason that photography is suffering tremendously (as an art and as a profession) like so many other career fields. Speaking of dying professions: There used to be a time when the printing presses used typesetters to space letters proportionately in print newspapers. It too, was once viewed as a stable profession as well as an art. Now, it’s simply a hobby and a novelty at best.

More often than not, you’ll see local news stations asking viewers to post their pictures on network sites. In return, they’ll pick the best photo and broadcast it on television. What does this say about the local access channels? Only that they’re trying to keep up to speed, too.

So, has technology compromised the value of photography?

Will future generations be able to appreciate what photographers of the past went through to capture the photos we consider iconic today, like:

Photo taken by: Joe Rosenthal

Photo taken by: Joe Rosenthal

Government Photographer

Government Photographer

Pose from "The Seven Year Itch"

Pose from “The Seven Year Itch”

Government Photographer

Government Photographer

And what’s in store for the future?

Some would argue the art of photography is lost because there’s not as much emphasis on traditional essence anymore; for example, the experience of choosing lighting, composition, and developing a keen eye has been replaced with more convenient digital methods. However, could it be that the art itself is not lost, but has instead evolved on another platform?

Others say it’s not lost and that great photos can still be produced through the use of digital cameras. In fact, some believe technology has not handicapped the ability to produce great photos and that it’s actually enabled people to create and replicate results of older technology.

Could the old-school commitment of truly understanding light, shutter speed, and the mechanics of how a camera works be a thing of the past?

Social Media

Everyone’s a photographer.

Today, everyone has a camera on their cell phone and anyone can take a somewhat decent photo using a pocket camera or a tablet. Social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine, or Tumblr (just to name a few) have become the main photo platforms filled with anything from amazing pics to really bad pics. Photo apps come with pre-packaged filters that give you options like Sepia, Black/White, 70’s looks; so what sets these pre-packaged photos apart from how actual photographers make their living?

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The difference between today’s photos and past photos could be viewed as “out with the old and in with the new,” but never forgotten. Surely cellphone shots don’t make up (or come close to) a raw photo that has been properly set up with aperture and f/stops settings throughout. But the same skills and knowledge leading up to this point can still be applied with today’s digital SLRs. With technology booming faster than we ever expected, popular sources of media are running rampant. All we can do is use it to our advantage. Embrace the knowledge of the past to help you improve what’s in the present.

Photography is not dead!

If you want to innovate with photography, then try one of these tips:

  • Take advantage of advance technology. Just make sure not to let it make you lazy about your craft.
  • Find news ways of contributing old photography with new. Mix it up to stay creative!
  • Never let anything stop what you love doing, not even technology. If you feel more comfortable with traditional methods, then do that. If you prefer digital photos, then make it happen. The choice is yours and yours alone.

What do you think?

Expand Your Brand!

Image credit to Wikipedia Commons, The Phoblographer, Techhive, and Richard Avedon. Iconic photos are credited in captions.


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  1. Wash

    I think that technology is definitely making these easier to take good pictures, but this still doesn’t necessarily say anyone can have an eye for it. If I had a recording studio with all of the latest hardware and software, I still wouldn’t be an amazing producer without having an ear and necessary skills for it.

    • Dréa Bell

      I totally agree. My only fear behind the advances of technology is, the people who don’t appreciate the photographers that do have an eye for it. But unfortunately, that’s always the struggle an artist faces…

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