Is Photography Dead

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by george_jonathan, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. Is the state of photography dying? Will the digital masters ever compared to the masters of film? Will there ever be a group of young photographers to carry the torch and help elevate the medium or are we all witnessing a slow death to the art we know as photography?
  2. No. Yes. Yes, no.
  3. SCL


  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Will the digital masters ever compared to the masters of film?​

    Lauren Greenfield, a documentary photographer whose work I like a lot, went from film to digital and nobody noticed.
    the art we know as photography​

    It's been changing constantly since it was invented, so it's not a static art but something with life and vitality. It has recently become much more ingrained in the lives of everyday people, which you'd think people would see as a good thing, and most do.
  5. Like Matt said
    No, Yes, Yes, No
    nothing will ever match the guys who took photos on glass plates .... :)
  6. Photography does not equal the tools used, therefore it will live on.
  7. "nothing will ever match the guys who took photos on glass plates .... :)"​
    This, absolutely. The invention of film ruined real photography for the real photographers. Film transformed an arcane art into a vulgar form of mass communication. Even Ansel Adams contributed to the demise of photography when he bought pre-sensitized glass plates rather than making his own sensitized recording media, as any true photographer would do. Overrated hack.
    Photography was dead by the 1890s. Good riddance. The death of photographers leaves us free to indulge ourselves in the one pure art form: Versus arguments on discussion forums.
  8. I think the real questions are: Is the state of writing dying? Will the typewriter masters ever compare to the masters of pens and pencils? Will there ever be a group of young writers to carry the torch and help elevate the written word or are we all witnessing a slow death to the art we know as writing?

    Cuz, you know, it's all digits and computers 'n' stuff now, and there's no way that communicating via typed words on a computer can possibly express ideas in the same way as when those words are written on old-timey paper with squid ink and a goose feather. Kids today just can't conjugate verbs like the old masters who couldn't email the results.
  9. You guys crack me up.
  10. Last I heard it wasn't feeling well...
  11. Photography is alive and well - a trillion (or so) camera phone owners can't be wrong! As others have said, photography is (and always has been) in a state of flux - in particular, many activities and types of work previously carried out by "professional" photographers either no longer exist or are carried out by amateurs or other types of professionals, such as graphic designers, police officers, real estate agents, etc. The core attributes of a good photographer (quick reflexes and a strong visual sense) remain unchanged, getting paid as a photographer is getting harder by the minute!
  12. Ye photographers with thou fancy tooleth! Charcoal on mi cavewall, ever since it's demise.
  13. Photography as we (old fuddy duddies?) once knew it is very minimal, but not gone. I was thinking of putting some of my work in a local gallery that recently opened when the owner mentioned "no traditional photography". I had to think for a second, as I've never considered myself a traditional anything. But then I looked at what I was doing. B&W film only, mostly Tri-X developed in D76, then enlarger printed on fiber paper, and dry mounted w/o framing. Guess that's traditional, although I prefer to call it straight photography. Labels are such a nuisance. Anyway, he was right. My work didn't belong there, BUT I think that would have made it all the more attractive, placed next to one person's digital inkjet prints, and the owner's large digitally produced "paintings" on canvas. Fortunately, I found a gallery/co-op type of place down the road in New Smyrna that should fit the bill nicely. I actually could care less about selling it, it would just be nice for people to see what that type of thing looks like. Maybe it will "come back" and I'll be ahead of the mob. Nah.
  14. ... gallery ... owner mentioned "no traditional photography".
    Just a few years ago, they were all saying the exact opposite! Don't tell the people at APUG about this!
  15. Why am I reminded of this?
  16. You're all wrong, I attended its funeral last week. It is definitely dead. They even put a stake through its heart, just to be sure!
  17. I actually could care less about selling it​
    How much less?
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Cuz, you know, it's all digits and computers 'n' stuff now, and there's no way that communicating via typed words on a computer can possibly express ideas in the same way as when those words are written on old-timey paper with squid ink and a goose feather. Kids today just can't conjugate verbs like the old masters who couldn't email the results.​
    Matt, I am not sure I understand what you mean. Could you write that down on a piece of paper and then Snail Mail that to me? I need to be able to read your hand writing to get the full meaning of your intend.
    Or better yet, come over to the West Coast so that we can talk face to face. A telephone call wouldn't convey your message nearly as well. I know there is this thing called Face Time now, but I need to see you in person. And should you decide to come over, don't take this airplane thing. You need to cross the country via a horse-drawn carriage ....
  19. I sent you that last week, Shun, but I may not have put enough postage on the envelope. Still, waiting for a postal letter is sort of like waiting for film to come back from the lab, right? You never know what you're going to get, or if you're ever going to get it at all! :)
  20. Matt, you should have sent it by carrier pigeon -- safe, reliable. Letters sent through the postal service are frequently misrouted, due to sorting errors and other mistakes. You know, they have those darned computers reading the addresses at a gazillionty times per second, as though they're somehow superior to humans. It's no wonder your letter never made it to Shun! Damned machines!
  21. gateway timeout -- Damned machines! Curse them!
  22. Your first post was that you were interesting in going pro, now this one. Better get out now before the whole hobby, business, art, etc of photography dies
  23. You'll be pleased to know, Sarah, that serious thought has been given to using homing pigeons as a network transport for IP data packets. You can read all about it. A team actually gave it a try, and managed - despite 55% packet loss - to get 9 data packets delivered via pigeon network. I'm afraid it would take a long time for truly masterful photography, in JPG format, to get uploaded at 9 packets per day. We get faster data from Voyager, which seems to have actually left the solar system already.
  24. Photography is dead. Long live photography!
  25. Try and find your way out of the woods.
  26. George, it's too bad your question is being made fun of. I sense it's a genuine question, given your age and current status. Questioning such things is never a bad idea, even if many photographers are so jaded they can't or won't take you seriously.
    Any medium goes through technological changes over the years. I think it's difficult to live up to what the old masters did, regardless of the changes to the medium. A very few will. Many won't. It depends what you want out of photography. Is your goal to be a master of the calibre of an Edward Weston? It can be done. It will take a lot of work, luck, skill, talent, and vision. There are few like Weston and there will continue to be few. Or is your goal to be a commercial success? Or is your goal to have a fun hobby? Or is your goal to express yourself? Or some other goal?
    I'd say we're witnessing a change, not a death. But every change has some elements that feel like the death of something. Change is great. But even great change can be accompanied by a feeling of loss. That seems part of the nature of change. It's certainly part of life. That there is loss doesn't mean change can't be embraced, but it also doesn't mean the aspect of loss needs to be dismissed.
    The sense of change, loss, measuring up, homage to past masters, looking ahead all might be things worth trying to express photographically. I'm sure some creative types are already doing so.
    Welcome to PN.
  27. If nothing else, superior attitude and mean spirit are alive and well.
  28. To be fair, this question should have been posted or moved to the Beginner's Questions Forum.
  29. Fred - you know what? You're right with your comments in many ways. The OP appears to be a young person asking what to him is a legitimate question. But I think the way the responses came is a good gauge of this group's perspective on that question.
    As a group we squabble over a lot of nuances about photography, but I think as a group we all believe that in one way or another photography is very much alive. Thus the reaction to the question - our global response can be summarized to "of course its alive - why would you ask that?" "Otherwise, what are we all doing here on this forum every day when we could be elsewhere spending time on another business interest / hobby / passion?"
    Photography looks different than it did for "the Masters" in many ways, largely driven by the availability of a tools I believe. But every generation adds its take on the medium, and as in any endeavor the previous generation excoriates them for ruining the legacy.
    What no longer exists is the simple wonder of seeing something represented on paper or digitally. We've all seen that thousands and thousands of time. Brady, Adams, Weston had the advantage of simply wowing us with that presentation. But the trade-off now is an amazing toolset, with easy global travel and a digitally-connected society that opens the door to experimentation and a ready audience. Its a wonderful time for photography.
  30. David, I think another reason for these same questions popping up from time to time is because many of these questions naturally occur as we evolve, but at different times.
    The site can do much to alleviate the problem by compiling a list of stickies or FAQs, and has been suggested many times but never implemented thereby aggravating the forum culture adversely.
    I don't blame forum participants' reaction to these beaten-to-death questions; there is a dedicated Beginner Forum where it is neophyte-friendly, after all.
  31. Another serious issue resolved. I think we deserve a big round of applause.
  32. Gentlepersons:
    Like many things, there are different opinions. Even I occasionally have one.
    So, I say, “Yes, no, no, yes.”
    A. T. Burke
  33. Photography as a craft is declining. As an art it doesn't matter. Anything is art. But as a craft, that is different. Everything else is snapshots. Billions of snapshots/exposures are made weekly but it is not art. You can hand your digital or cellphone to a chimp and teach him to press the button so does that make him a photographer and what he shot art? The same for people who don't know the craft of photography. People have been making snapshots for decades but it does not necessarily qualify as art. Because of people's lack of knowledge of the photographic craft lots of people are happy with dreadful photos of their wedding made by a relative who owns a "good" camera because it qualifies him as a "photographer". The same type of person joins a questionable group like IFPO, produces dreadful photos and gets paid for it because the credentials declare him to be a "photographer". Few people take the time to learn the craft of photography which includes composition, lighting, etc., among other things. Some believe these things can be substituted with with PhotoShopping But, still, you would need to know what was wrong before you could fix it.
    As for writers. Yes, the state of writing is declining. The stuff they churn out these days is awful.
  34. As for writers. Yes, the state of writing is declining. The stuff they churn out these days is awful.​
    And would you say that's because they're using a computer to record the first paragraph of a novel instead of Hemingway's typewriter or Shakespeare's quill? The OP's implication in the leading question is that the recording medium is playing a role in the mastery (or not) of the process ... that digital, in place of film, is risking the loss of "torch carrying" younger people in photography. I think the opposite is so plainly true that I found the notion worth a bit of a jibe, myself.

    Surely the lighting, composition, and vision that you think are important - and find lacking/decaying - have a whole of absolutely zero to do with whether the image is recorded chemically or as millions of pixels, digitally.
  35. As for writers. Yes, the state of writing is declining. The stuff they churn out these days is awful.
    You produce this piece of ungrammatical semi-literate rambling and then conclude that OTHER PEOPLE can't write?
  36. Fred, you are right that we could have checked the OPs profile first, before making the usual fun of these topic. A bit a reflex.... Michael's point on 'sticky topics' is an idea, though (also for the 125 threads monthly on having to upgrade Adobe Camera Raw for a new DSLR....)...
    And there it is... "back in the days, all was better"
    Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will Philander, you too will get old, and when you do you'll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. (Wear Sunscreen)​
    That good old sentiment. Except what you regard as the better stuff of yesterday was in its day also frowned upon. What is conservative today was revolutionairy a week ago. What is seen as a "classic" today has been a novelty only years ago.
    There is nothing wrong with liking stuff from the past - be it novels, photography, music, or whatever - better than what is being produced today. But that does not invalidate what happens today, and does not indicate a rise of decline. It indicates change. And there will always be change, and there will always be people prefering the past over the current, and people prefering the future over today. Great artists tend to break with traditions, only to become traditional themselves. So, let's not yet judge today's state of photography. It's too early.
  37. I think a typewriter may not imprint itself on a poem as much as a particular type of camera or lens imprints itself on a photo or body of work or as much as the kind of brush used imprints itself on certain brushstrokes and paintings. Regardless, there remains the question of whether there are poets who still prefer to write longhand over using a computer when they're composing. I know several who do, likely for their own reasons and not anyone else's.
    The thing about many great and good and even ordinary photographers is that they have individuated themselves and don't need and probably don't even want a forum's approval to incline however they want to incline in terms of the methods and tools they employ, some of it not always as logically or rationally as forumpersons seem to assess life.
    As to writing, read through some emails and texts and draw your own conclusions about the "art" of writing and how tools have affected it, which is not to say I think writing is dying but it is changing and not always for the better. By the way, have you read your local newspaper lately?
    Photography as an "art" used to be practiced by few people. Now everyone has access which certainly doesn't mean it's dying but when legions of people have access to trying to make art, chances are a lot of the stuff we all see will not quite live up to what we have seen in the past (though obviously a small percentage should and will), when the art side of photography was practiced by a more specialized bunch.
    What we also forget is that, as time passes, what has survived in the general consciousness is all the good stuff. The bad stuff from the past often has already made its way to the dustbin of history. We think of the mastery of Mozart and marvel at "how good they used to be." We conveniently forget how many Salieris the world "back then" endured as well.
  38. Laur said "And would you say that's because they're using a computer to record the first paragraph of a novel instead of Hemingway's typewriter or Shakespeare's quill?"​
    No, I would say it is because they don't take the time to learn about writing by reading enough "good" literature. The things I see being churned out read like a rough draft that are 3 edits away from even starting to sound like something.
    Bebbington said "You produce this piece of ungrammatical semi-literate rambling and then conclude that OTHER PEOPLE can't write?"​
    I'm not writing the great American novel here. I'm rambling like everybody does over a coffee cup.
  39. I have no idea why people even feel the need to ask these questions. We still have horses. We still have people making lithographic prints using stones. Alternative processes for photography are more popular than ever. We still have renaissance guilds. We still have horses. And more photographs are being made now that at any other point in human history. Does this kind of question stem from a perceived personal threat? I mean, ok. I've got five rolls of Kodachrome in my drawer that I'll never be able to use. But I also have a couple of Sony NEX cameras and a laptop, and with that, I can shoot anywhere in the world, publish from anywhere in the world, and communicate with all you good people from anywhere in the world. This is a wonderful time to be taking pictures.
  40. it's too bad your question is being made fun of​
  41. Is dead?

    I am starting to think so because of how questions like this ( which are *very* good questions in 2010-2020 by the way )
    get shot down like Mig over Washington DC in 1964....

    But to answer the OP's questions, yes, photography as it was once known for as being something to aspire to be great at
    requiring awe inspiring levels of raw talent and high levels of craftsmanship is quickly becoming less attractive as a form
    of expression and self exploration to those who poses high levels of talent and dedication who want a worthy challenge.

    I see more and more direct and indirect evidence of this everyday....people are simply looking to other pursuits to fuffil
    their deepest creative being...
  42. questions like this ( which are *very* good questions in 2010-2020 by the way ) get shot down​
    Actually, I don't see the question as having been shot down at all. I see it as having been directly answered. It's a perfectly good string of questions, and several people here think the answers are so self-evident as to be able to say "yes" or "no" with very little more needed. The OP didn't ask "What can young photographers do if they feel they're not getting enough respect," or "How can creative photographers act to make sure the image-consuming marketplace understands what goes into creating worthwhile material?"

    Instead, we got a series of what feel more like rhetorical questions without any follow-up (in the OP or later in the thread) without doing what anyone using rhetorical questions is supposed to do with them: answer them, themselves, to make a point. Instead, the questions were just lobbed over the fence, and didn't show any sign of being asked in the interests of actual discussion. So I, at least, simply answered them in the same manner they were asked.
  43. Don't agree Matt...

    Just because a question is short does not always mean an answer has to be, especially considering how the person who
    posted the question is not the only one who is going to read it.

    It just seems like there is growing intolerance such as this and from all the usual suspects. It would be great to see the
    same names that reply take a year-long vacation from here so that people who I know for a fact that are readers but not
    posters can feel like it is their community too.
  44. Daniel: There is no limit on the number of posts here. The fact that some regular member responds to a question doesn't prevent a lurker from having something constructive to say. If someone feels that no, photography is not dead, and simply says so ... how on earth does that prevent any among the large group of non-contributors you've mentioned from chiming in? It's not a fixed-size pie to be carved up.

    I don't notice a whiff of "intolerance" in this thread. A bit of weariness, perhaps. A bit of taking the OP's opinion-laden questions into the context of his previous thread, for sure. But I don't see hostility, only a bit of an eye-roll over the implication that photography is dead.
  45. Its not dead, its alive and well, but with digital age and with current internet exposure, it is now boring, the brain is fried from over exposure to so so many images, there is no longer a wow factor, there is nothing new.
  46. Richard has a good point, but the wow factor is still valid. Quality has really declined. Go look in a gallery these days and you will be hard pressed to see anything that hits you hard. I have no idea why this is, but I suspect it's due to digital and the internet. Making a good photograph used to require a lot of work and skill, and why spend a lot of time and effort unless you had a great shot (negative) to begin with? Nowadays, everyone can get good exposure, correct focus, etc. w/ their auto everything camera. The ease of getting an image has devalued the basics that should have been there in the first place. Good lighting, great subject matter, good composition, etc. You have to master the basics first, not later. You don't start where Edward Weston ended, you start where he started, at the beginning. There's a mind set that says "I don't need that anymore, I can "fix" everything in Photoshop". No, you can't.
    The internet has destroyed the camaraderie that comes when artists/photographers meet in a home, coffehouse or gallery to go over the issues that we discuss here, but this is a really poor substitute for being there in person. You had to be good to get invited into these groups, or at least have something to say. It was something to aspire to. The democratization of the internet means everything falls to the lowest denominator. There's no real communication. There___ is___ no___ one___ there.
    Years ago, when photography was good, a gallery would show only the best, and those photographers were pros that knew what they were doing. These days, anyone can print an inkjet print and frame it, then into the old gallery it goes. Nice, sharp, boring stuff. People, or machines actually, have mastered getting a slick image, but they have nothing to say. Or, and this is the sad part, they have nothing to say, and they say it beautifully.

Share This Page