I have been getting a lot of complaints recently about how the
digital world has turned everyone into a photographer.
There are those who believe that only those who actually understand
what they are doing should be taking photographs, that otherwise
we end up devaluing photography as in an inflationary process
in which everything loses it’s value.
Although I don’t agree with that premise, I understand where
such a sentiment comes from. As more and more photographers see
an erosion of their work environment by the encroachment of people
that also take pictures, thus taking away opportunities for earning
a living, it is understandable that such a defensive attitude
I was recently in Hong Kong; at the time when the meetings of
the WTO (World Trade Organization) were held. As everyone probably
read in their local papers across the globe, the protests were
very intense outside those meeting halls. The local paper had
advertisements that were in keeping with a world trend of gathering
images in ways that were unheard of not too long ago.
The advertisement read: Be a Citizen Journalist. As you probably
recall, the most important, and of course, the first images
of the terrorist bombing that took place in London, in 2005, were
made with cell phone cameras, both in their video and still image
formats. The same happened with the first images we got
from the Tsunami in Asia. In Iraq today, the news agencies
do not bring in any Western photographers anymore. Instead, they
train local people who not only have the benefit of speaking the
language but also have the necessary credentials for being present
in those places where a photographer needs to be at and to which
a Westerner most probably would not have access to.
since photography became so easy that a five year old can take
pictures (and with the advent of digital technology picture taking
has become an increasingly simple operation) a lot of pictures
which would have required a professional, now can be done by just
about anyone. Even wedding pictures are no longer the exclusive
realms of a professional.
© Pedro Meyer, 2006
Yes, we are seeing a very deep transformation of who takes pictures
and what for. The emergence of a vast number of people taking
pictures today that are not particularly interesting or good save
to the person who is taking them and their friends or relatives,
brings to forefront the need to reconsider the very notion of
what makes a professional photographer. No longer is it just someone
who is capable of actually making a picture, like it has been
in the past, but new criteria is in now in order depending on
the final usage of the image.
© Pedro Meyer, 2006
I actually enjoy the proliferation of people taking pictures,
no matter that they are not very good; as I find that it has an
equivalent in singing. How many people who love to sing in the
shower or in a karaoke, are actually very good at singing? They
are simply enjoying the pleasure of singing the same way as their
counterparts enjoy taking pictures. I find that to be a very encouraging
sign about the universality of capturing an image.
Coyoacan, January 2006