Recently I began to think about the potential photographers have today, and somehow I see we're in a predictament in photography as to what constitutes or defines one's potential. We've confused technology with personal potential. We evaluate a photographer's work on technical grounds for what we think the new digital camera system and photo editing and production software can do, than on the individual's personal goals and interests in photography.
I began thinking about it when I reviewed and produced some new photo galleries from some recent trips to Seattle. I like what I call walking around photography, or what some call street photography, but much of mine is about scenery and else about people normally associated with street photography. People are in my images when they pose an interesting subject to the scene, and not necessarily the subject of the image.
Let's step back a little. Up until the 1950's photographers had a few choices of equipment, film, and print production. Through the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's 35mm and medium format cameras began to flourish with new technologies, but all were still film-based with standard darkroom printing methods. It's only in the 1990's and beyond have we been catapulted into a whole new technology in digital cameras and digital printing, and especially with Adobe's Photoshop, have we had such photo/image editing methods.
So why are we evaluating photographer and their work by the latest technology? If a photographer doesn't want to learn and use the latest digital camera system, the latest photo editing and production sofware, and the last digital printing methods, why are they criticized for the lack of "new" in the work? What happened to just fulfill your own potential to produce the images you want with the level of technology that works for you?
I realize this topic has been debated in all the photography arenas, and mostly everyone expresses their perspective and hold to their own evaluations of others' work. We all know we would do someone else's work differently if we had to do it, but we shouldn't hold our interests as theirs. And if they use old or new technology, it really doesn't matter if they produce the images they're happy with. Isn't that enough?