The internet – a blessing or a curse for photography?
If you were to believe “serious photographers”, you’d believe it’s a curse. An abundance of photos of parties, food, fun with friends and other events. Countless selfies. Influencers desperately trying to hide they’re just an advertisement (and failing to hide that). Quick shots from the hip. Images that have no purpose beyond publishing more pictures.
Don’t those serious photographers take themselves too serious? Is their work of higher value than all those other images? And if yes, is the value of that better work reduced because it’s harder to find in the tidal waves of not-so-great images?
Aren’t we conveniently forgetting how many serious photographers love to use the web to share their work? And the near endless sources of training, information and inspiration? Tutorials on youtube or blogs, gear reviews, forums to share experiences? There is so much to learn and gain out there, so much to read up, so much to get inspiration from. And yet, the discussion often gravitates to the negatives of the overkill of accidental images on social media.
Isn’t there a blessing in making access to photos easy, and making sharing photos easy? There is a lot of very good, original, creative and interesting work on sites like Instagram, Flickr, 500px and others. Yes, you have to put in more effort to find the pearls in the shells, but there are infinitely more shells, and as a result, more pearls.
Plus, don’t underestimate those not-so-serious photographers shooting from the hip. The quirky, unexpected, unintended go-with-the-flow also generates a lot of originality and creativity. Maybe not according to more classic perceptions of what make good photography, but perhaps you loose out on a lot of new ideas and fun sticking to such definitions. I, at least, see no value in judging a photo that way.
Things change. Change is hard. And change isn’t always good. It’s hard to deny that photography changed a lot by increasingly cheaper and easier cameras, and by making sharing easier and easier. Internet surely accelerated that process a lot. Not all that change is perfect and ideal. But bottom line, there is also so much added value, right there for the taking to make this hobby more interesting, more diverse – all in all, a richer experience.
Personally, there is one thing I find a clear downside. As nice as it can be to easily share images via internet, it is at the cost of the print, and people perceiving the value of a good print. A printed image delivers something extra, and I enjoy watching a print a lot more than I enjoy watching a screen. That’s just a personal note where I find the internet damaging something good.
That, and the selfies.