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There has been a spat of posts and articles recently extolling the storyline that “Photography Is Dead!” or “Creativity Is Dead!” or both. And then some. The articles I have read rightly point out that more people have cameras and are sharing images on the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And that most of those images are not some form of art (the food you ate, a self-portrait (or ‘selfie’ as they are colloquially know) or yet another sunset, etc…).
They also point to this deluge of images as something that is dragging down photography as a whole and beating the creativity out of the art form. They point to the overall averageness that this mass use of the medium has created.
But I think they are missing a point.
While there are exponentially more people taking photos these days thanks to phone cameras and cheaper, instant digital cameras in general, this is in no way killing creativity. If you’re reading this on DPS then you are someone who wants to learn and improve your photography skills. And that’s my point;
What this mass use of the medium has done is only highlight what was already there; That the masses, on average, are average at any given art form.
This is nothing new, but it is made far more obvious because of the ability to share any image with the online world as a whole at any point in time. For instance, most of us are average, or below average in my case, drawers or sketch artists. It’s only because drawings are not as easy to be shared over the internet as a photograph that this fact is not brought to our attention. If every pencil had built-in wifi and out sketches were posted online in real-time, we’d have sketch artists complaining about the “deluge of average” instead of photographers.
To use an analogy, it would be like saying that because cars are mass-produced and, to a certain degree, look the same, that there are no more extraordinary cars. No more creativity in the automobile industry. But that is blatantly false when a look is given to manufacturers like Ferrari, Bugotti, Tesla, Lambroghini and others. Not only that, right now, some place on this planet, there is a man or woman in their home garage who is crafting a custom car unlike any you have seen.
Or better yet, look at motorcycles. Not only can I not really tell one street rocket from another, or one Harley Davidson from another, there are major production TV shows dedicated to the art of building beautiful, creative street machines.
I see a lot of cars and motorcycles while driving the highways around LA. A lot. And I can’t tell you how many Toyota Camrys or Chevy Cruzes I have seen. But any time a custom motorcycle goes by or any time I spot a barely-legal, wedge shaped ‘super car’…those moments turn my head and drop my jaw.
And for you, the learning photographer (a group that will always include me as well), that is your lofty goal. Not to be mired in the hoopla that prices paid for images are dropping through the floor and creativity is therefor dead (the business side of photography in the digital age is another discussion altogether). Your goal is to create head turning art.
In the end, realize those people telling you creativity is dead and that photography is dead are spending time, like me right now, at a keyboard NOT creating beautiful images that inspire and rise above the din of mediocrity. They are only extolling their opinion about their single-person viewpoint of a huge art form and that things aren’t the way they use to be or how the author wants them to be.
You need no one’s permission to be creative or to produce stunning art. Ignore opinions that tell you creativity in any art form is dead. They are just opinions.
Grab your camera, any camera, and go create.