Some time ago, I wrote a post about the death of the point-and-shoot camera at the hands of the camera-phone. We see it all around us – people hoisting their phones in the air to take a photograph. When was the last time you saw someone under the age of 50 using a point and shoot camera? It is rare.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of those people. When it comes to pictures of my family, the breakdown is probably about like this 10% DSLR, 10% point-and-shoot and 80% iPhone. The scary part is… I’m a professional photographer! I bet it is safe to assume the average family is 100% phone.
My cell contract comes up for renewal in November and I can’t wait to get the newest iPhone. Is it because of Siri or some of the other new features like the bigger screen? Heck now- I just want to upgrade my everyday camera! Apps like Instagram have changed the world of photography- but is it all good?
The Decline of Photography
As a society, we set our standards according to what we see around us. Every day, we are inundated with images on Facebook, Twitter, texts, etc. Most of these are snapshots from someone’s phone. They might be a little out of focus or grainy, but after a while you get used to it. Slowly our standard starts to drop. This is fine if you are just snapping a shot of yourself at the baseball game or at a party – but it has caused us to rely too heavy on these passing, casual images. Because we have so many images flowing in, we get less and less worried about the quality and just focus on the quantity.
The Pros and the Fauxs
Another unfortunate side-effect of the digital age is the rise of the “Faux-tographer” – basically someone with a decent camera, but no real training or expertise. I’m always on the lookout for new photographers and love to check out their work online. So many times, I visit their website and see tons and tons of mediocre snapshots. Why anyone would pay for something they could do themselves on a camera phone is beyond me- but it happens all the time. Most don’t use any lighting or even a tripod. They just grab a DSLR and shoot a thousand shots- hoping for a few good ones. That is not portraiture.
The Missing Portrait
The unfortunate victim of the digital revolution has been the classical portrait. The elegant, timeless image. Only because it is my business, I’ve managed to do a decent job of maintaining some nice portraits of my boys. We’ve even done a pretty good job of getting a family portrait done every few years. I realize that I am the minority on this one, which is a shame. When my kids are grown up and move away, I know that the formal portraits will be the ones I ultimately treasure the most. Most phone snapshots never even get printed. Its the wall portraits that are enjoyed every day when I walk through the house.
A Return To Timeless
My hope is that sloppy photography is just a passing fad. As children grow up, their parents are going to realize that they don’t have any true portraits of them. All they have is a folder of camera phone snapshots on their computer.
Every year, cell phone cameras get better and better. It really is incredible. However, I don’t know that they will ever get to the point where they can light and pose the subject. When it comes right down to it, photography is all about lighting and that is something that takes time to learn. Quantity has never been a substitute for quality and it never will. Whether you come to me or choose someone else- I hope you will schedule some time to get a real portrait done of your family this fall. You’ve got plenty of pictures – invest in a portrait.