Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Gear Galore, but Photography Hasn't Changed

This past week saw many new cameras, lenses and other photography related equipment announced, from the Nikon D800, Olympus OM-D EM-5 to new image stabilized IS wide angle primes from Canon.  Plenty of stuff for gear lovers and photographers alike, the question is, which group is happier? From the looks of things, photographers. The gear lovers always have something to complain about, the photographers just look and see if the new equipment will help them do what they love better or not.

From my point of view the interest isn't so much in buying the new equipment, since I'm set for the time being, but my interest is drawn more in where photography is headed. We are seeing a lot of new cameras, but not seeing them do anything new. For example, Nikon releases the D800, aside from more megapixels, better video and upgraded AF/Metering, there really isn't anything new in the camera. To be honest, they don't need to change much, so what new things do modern cameras really need? More pixels? Larger sensors? Less noise at high ISO? Better dynamic range? Built in GPS? I think each photographer has to answer those questions for themselves, because it depends completely on your shooting style.

Back to the idea of where photography is heading. There is no doubt that there are massive amounts of photos being taken in the modern age, just spend 5 minutes going through your favorite photo sharing site and you'll know what I mean. The question is, what are we doing with these images? If you are anything like me, 90-95% of the images taken will never be seen by anyone, aside from the maker. What does that say about the quality of our images? What does that say about us as modern photographers? Why do so many of our images not make the cut? Do we shoot too much without really thinking about what we are doing? What about creating new styles of photography? Do we embrace new ideas or stick them in a box, never to be seen? Does every landscape photo need tons of depth of field? Does every portrait need to have beautiful bokeh? Does every image need to be tack sharp? Do I need a camera with a 36MP sensor to show more detail, when 90% of my images are exported at 1024x768 or printed 8x10 and nothing more?

These are questions that we has photographers need to answer, because we are producing so many images that are basically cookie cutter copies of ones we've seen someone else take. We think, wow I want to take a photo like that person did. I know why I take images similar to ones other people take, but that isn't the point here. Why do we not try to create something new? As photographers we like to think of ourselves as creators of art, but are we really that creative if we are just trying copying someone else's work? I'm just as guilty of this problem as the next photographer, so I need to answer those questions myself.