Shoot for originality
We all know that constant advances in technology have impacted the lifestyle of everyone with access and simple tasks just getting easier and easier. We can check exactly how many miles we can drive before our gas supply is completely depleted, we can submit our class assignments from the comfort of our beds and we can arrange a rendezvous with an old friend in a matter of minutes. Technology eliminated the hassle of many mundane activities, especially how we document our lives.
Society was quick to jump on the digital photography bandwagon. We shelved our 35mm cameras without hesitation and ran to the nearest department store for one of these newfangled camera devices. Ever since, the need to have a visual souvenir of every event in one's life has gone up on the list of priorities, regardless of age.
Our generation in particular was raised with digital cameras in hand. The device is a well-appreciated shift from the draining drop-off and pick-up process at a 24-hour photo. It is an even more appreciated shift from dealing with expensive chemicals and waits in the dark room. Though there is a significant amount of individuals who can't just abandon their film cameras because they love the feel and permanence of prints, most have moved on and forgotten the slow, and sometimes, unreliable process.
I cannot even give you an estimate of how many times I've been asked to please upload the photos from Event X to Facebook so that friends Y and Z can have a new default photo as soon as possible. Even as the person who is usually behind the viewfinder, I've been on the other side of this exchange more than I'd like to admit. Online platforms like Facebook and Flickr have not only increased the audience of any individual's personal photos, but also opened up our private lives to the world and created a permanent entertainment aspect of online life.
In the same way anyone can be a "journalist" as an online blog author, anyone can be a photographer because of the increasing accessibility to digital camera technology. Digital single-lens reflex cameras, or DSLRs are becoming more affordable and user-friendly, so that the production of "professional quality" photographs is possible for anyone who can get his hands on one. Even the standard point-and-shoot camera, the very affordable and portable device most people own, can produce quality images that can be enlarged and manipulated by anyone with access to a computer.
Some of our favorite features include the ability to review our photos instantly and store hundreds and hundreds per event. No one really has to be cautious with their shooting because we can simply delete all the undesirable photographs as quickly as we took them. It's a luxury we've grown to take for granted, but a feature that has affected the overall quality of photographs.
Even with this well-established technology, updates are still constantly coming up in the market. Newer cameras have improved sensors, greater pixel density and capacity, better low-light sensitivity and a greater dynamic range. Each update is the opportunity to own a product that can produce higher resolution photos. With a few hundred dollars, anyone can take aesthetically pleasing photographs.
Unfortunately, this puts the pressure on serious photographers and those who consider themselves a little more tech-savvy. The standards have been raised because the public needs to be able to see the difference between someone who just picked up a camera and someone who knows what he's doing. What separates the average guy and a good photographer lies in the more technical and creative aspects of shooting. If you aren't shooting just for the sake of documenting your events for your family or friends, there are different audiences a photographer must cater to. Critics are not easy to impress. Sorry, but your strawberry still life or heart-shaped bokeh might not cut it for publication.
The photography field is changing just as quickly as many other fields are in our digital media age. Though the bar has been raised, aspiring photographers should not be discouraged. The field might be changing, but it is, more importantly, growing. Whether you are an artist or a photojournalist, there will always be room for anyone to make their mark. It's true that it is easy for one's work to get buried underneath a pool of images, but with the right stuff, photographs can stand out.
Jovelle Abbey Tamayo is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in economics and political science. She is the photo editor at The Daily Targum.