Last week I wrote an email about photography snobbery. It got quite a reaction so I am building on that in this blog post. This will also give you a break from me banging on about real estate photography!
Photography snobbery is this awful thing where people look down on us for not following their preconceptions of what we as photographers should be doing. Here are 10 examples – I am sure you have your own which I would love to hear about.
- You have to use manual mode to be a proper photographer
- If you wear the camera strap with your camera model on you look stupid
- You can’t take proper photos using JPEG
- You aren’t a photographer if you use autofocus
- Film photography is the only real photography
- HDR is cheating
- Editing photos is cheating
- You have to use layers to be a real photographer
- You can’t take good photos at noon
- You need the latest camera gear
In this blog post I will tell why these things really annoy me, and conclude with what really matters. As I said, let me know if you have been subjected to any form of photography snobbery.
Apologies but this is a bit of a rant post.
What Is Photography Snobbery then?
Well I read something on the internet the other week that really annoyed me. It was one of those stupid things that people who are so full of themselves say that can make us all feel inadequate.
I feel for beginner photographers who must read some stuff on the internet and be so confused by what they are being told that they have to do.
And not a little intimidated by the strength of some of these polarised views.
The list in my head
I have been racking up a mental list of these things which I want to share with you now. One of these I read the other day, the rest are from the recent past and have been rattling around uncomfortably in my head.
And now that I am writing this I want to capture them all so have created a Photography Snobbery Page!
Here are those 10 with my thoughts.
1 You have to use manual to be a proper photographer
I hate reading and hearing this. I could use manual mode, all it would mean is that I would have to change the shutter speed, according to what the camera tells me it should be, for every photo.
I use AV mode, so the aperture and ISO are set by me and the camera works out the shutter speed for me.
Sure there are times when manual mode is needed, but this is a tool to be used when needed and not something to beat us over the head with if we choose not to use it.
If you want to use manual mode for every photo you take fine – that is your choice and I have nothing against that. But please don’t make people feel inadequate if they do not want to, or are not able to yet.
2 If you wear the camera strap that came with your camera model on you look stupid
You know, the branded camera straps with the make and model printed boldly on the strap. This is one from a photography podcast some time ago that I will never forget. It made me feel really uncomfortable.
You have spent all this money on your camera, and have the neck strap that comes with it. You are probably proud of the fact that you have a nice camera and happy to let everyone know that.
What is wrong with that??
Why would anyone ever criticize a photographer for doing this? I stopped listening to this podcast because of this small-minded approach.
3 You can’t take proper photos using JPEG
Rubbish, you can take rubbish photos using RAW. Jpeg is just a means of getting a photo. Using Jpeg does not exclude you from getting a great photo. In fact there is a lot to be said for shooting in Jpeg and not RAW. And I am saying that as someone who always shoots in RAW.
I once did a shoot and the camera I had been loaned was set to JPEG and not RAW. Did anyone notice? No they did not.
And I am talking a repeat client here who I have done about 50 shoots for.
It did get me thinking about why I still shoot in RAW I have to say?
4 You aren’t a photographer if you use autofocus
Ridiculous. But still I hear this. Why would you ever not let the camera use all its tech to get the focus bang on.
I cannot remember the last time I took a photo using manual focus. It was probably circa 1985!
Back in the day I had a Canon AL 1. It was manual focus, but when you got the focus right a green light appeared. Thinking about it more I think that it told you which way to turn the focus ring, and when you had the best focus it let you know.
I believe it was the fore runner to autofocus, and I think it was the first SLR camera to do this.
It was a long, long time ago, and was ground-breaking tech at the time that helped me.
Autofocus helps me take sharp photos, and that is what matters. That is all that matters. Learning manual focus will teach you nothing other than how amazing auto focus is.
5 Film photography is the only real photography
I don’t get film photography at all. In fact I was having this very debate with my daughter who loves film photography. Either is fine, film or digital – we do not need to take sides.
If you love film great.
If you like digital like me great.
I am not right or wrong. It is a matter of personal choice.
But digital photography is just as valid as film photography – neither is right or wrong. So don’t criticise either way.
6 HDR is cheating
I use HDR on my commercial work. I am using this technique to capture a wider range of lights and darks than my camera can capture in one image.
My Canon 6D cannot capture the dynamic range that my eyes can. I am talking about the range of light from black to white in simple terms.
Using HDR I get more light stuff at one end, and more dark stuff at the other end. I put them together in Lightroom and everything looks nice and natural.
How can this be cheating? This is being smart as far as I am concerned.
7 Editing photos is cheating
I spoke about this on the Photography Explained Podcast. Is Editing Photos Cheating? Well Is It? Well What Do You Think?
I know, but I do like obvious titles so you know what you are getting!
A camera converts light coming through the shutter into digital data that becomes a photo. That is processing in my book.
And JPEG processes images in camera. There are even styles of photos that you can create.
And whilst a RAW photo might be unprocessed how did the actual file get created? And once we answer that the RAW image format is designed specifically so that editing is done by the photographer.
So editing photos is not cheating, it is just a part of photography.
And going back to film, do we look down our noses on people who mastered the art of dodging and burning? Of course not, they are considered masters of their craft.
But dodging and burning are editing.
8 You have to use layers to be a real photographer
I often get shot down for this. Someone once sent me an angry email saying that you have to use layers and that layers once “saved my ass”.
I have never used layers. I am not necessarily proud of this fact. This is not a badge of honour. But the fact is that I do not understand them, and do not understand why I would need them.
I have managed to work successfully for years without them.
And believe me I have tried to get my nut around them.
9 You can’t take good photos at noon
If I have a shoot that starts at noon that is that. The time I am given is not down to me. Sure I try to not take photos at noon but in real life you cannot completely avoid this.
And if a shoot starts at 9-10am, which is very common, I might well still be there are at noon.
Real life means that we take photos when we have to take them, not only when there is a stunning sunrise or sunset with gorgeous directional light.
So if you think that this is the only time that you should take photos and are wondering how people work in normal working hours don’t worry – this is the day to day reality.
Rather than saying that you should not take photos at noon say we should concentrate on how to get the best photos we can with the sun directly overhead.
10 You need the latest camera gear
I use a Canon 6D. I bought it in 2016. It was a great camera then, and is a great camera today. I have photos in my portfolio taken with a Canon 5D.
Sure there is lots of great new tech, but this will not take great photos for you. You can take great photos with a camera old or new, but you can also take rubbish photos with cameras old and new.
And think about it – what about all those photos take years ago? We don’t rubbish those just because they were taken on older cameras do we?
No – we do not. More photography snobbery nonsense.
What is photography all about?
Photography is drawing with light. Photography is about creating photos. Photography is meant to be enjoyed.
Do what you want, learn what you need to learn, get the gear that you need.
But go out more and take photos. Practise, learn the art of photography. Love photography and photography will love you back I promise you.
Right I am done here.
Cheers from me