Are you a Photographer or a Spidographer?
I am one of those who believe digital photography has taken the ‘fun-of-the-pain’ out of photography. There was a time when the photographer could claim credit for all that is good in a photograph. The subject, composition, texture (mood / lighting), the MOMENT, everything. But not anymore. When Photoshop took most functions out of the camera and put them into the computer, it smothered the skill out of photography. Photographers now just focus on the subject and the moment because they know they can recreate or alter everything else later on the computer. Good photographers have become lazy. It must be less fulfilling to be a photographer now.
It is not end of the world though because all this made critiquing a picture a bit more fun.
In the olden days, we spent more time in understanding what the photographer is trying to tell us through the picture. Any credit if it has to be given, was done so quickly. Now we can also ask what does the picture tell us about the photographer.
To me pictures are either decorative or substantive.
I don’t think too highly of pictures that are ‘treated’ well (which is why I have not taught myself Photoshop). But if a picture says something about the photographer - that you know your machine as well as yourself, you’ve waited long for the moment to occur (or planned one carefully), took time to compose a shot, understood the lighting and then pressed that button to bring it all together - now that is substantive. It is also substantive if the photographer just happened to be in the middle of the moment and had the good sense to whip out the camera to capture the moment (even more points if it is not a phone camera).
There is a value in things that happen naturally, beauty in things that are untouched, and an allure in the ephemerality of the moment.
But if you wait to do only this kind of work then you’d not be shooting much. And if you are also lazy to boot, then like me, you become a spidographer - one that only shoots moments that happen to him (much like a spider that waits for food to come to it) and stay long enough for him to go get the unwieldy DSLR. Two such moments happened to me last week. Here they are.
There is plenty of natural light in my bathroom. It was a late Sunday afternoon. Since I do not normally take a shower at that time, I never saw it this way. This photo is completely untreated. This is how my camera saw it, the soft dispersed halo, the blue hue and all that. A silhouette of a person in the shower would have been more dramatic but hey, who takes a tripod to their bathroom and takes a picture of himself in a shower.
My 2 year old gives me enough ‘moments’ like this one where he is trying to put on track pants on his shorts. But it is hard to keep a DSLR handy and capture all of them. Camera phones (and point-and-shoots) are getting better, but you can tell this picture was taken with a DSLR. Natural light, a high quality image sensor, and depth of field create a picture that needs little processing.
So what are you? A photographer or a spidographer?