Has photography become too easy?

With the growth of the digital age, film photography has almost died out. While you’ll see some dabble with it, not many do, simply because it’s time-consuming and expensive. But, have digital cameras therefore made photographers lazy?

Has photography become too easy? Photo of a city, half is burnt from film and the other is in full colour.
Credit: Unsplash

Like all technology, cameras have developed (see what I did there) a lot over the years. Starting out as not much more than a box with a hood, now you get cameras that fit in your pocket. No longer do images burn onto film and have to be developed. Now, images are instant and you can take an unlimited amount. You don’t have to be as picky.

There was a time when you would only have a certain amount of shots. If you didn’t capture what you needed to, then it was tough, because film has always been expensive in one way or another. Only, now, to develop film is almost impossible. If you find anywhere that does take on film, it’s 35mm at most, and it will cost you a fortune to have it printed.

You could therefore argue that taking photos has become easier because if you don’t like what you see, you can delete it and try again. Not only that, but we have lighting and attachments now to brighten or soften an image. All of this can be done before capturing making the editing process much smoother.

Editing images

That’s another thing, image adaptation. You absolutely couldn’t edit your images when darkrooms were around. There was an option to distort or have a little fun with your photographs. But, editing them, removing all imperfections and completely manipulating what you’ve captured just couldn’t be done.

Does that mean all images before were far more realistic than they are now, because they couldn’t be changed? Perhaps, but that doesn’t define a photographer’s skill. Developing your images in a dark room can be difficult. Especially when we’re talking colour film. That’s a real nightmare because the whole thing has to be done in complete darkness.

Developing negatives

To develop a roll of film, nowadays, there are machines to do it for you. But, to develop them manually, you’ll need to find yourself a darkroom (literally) with no light source. The whole process would take days if not longer because your film needed to dry before you could even consider blowing it up to 6×4 and printing it on paper.

Now, you can take a photo, and have it printed within an hour. It does make photography these days seem lazy. However, there’s arguably more to consider technically these days. Aside from lighting and all other extras, photographers today have to manually set their cameras. There’s so much terminology to get your head around.

Camera terminology

From your white balance, to your aperture, exposure, depth of field – photographers have to think of it all. Of course, digital cameras do the thinking for you, if you allow them. But, I can’t think of a single professional who wouldn’t set up their DSLR themselves. Auto is a banned word, it’s just not an option. You must shoot manual.

It’s absolutely easier to see through a modern camera. They have screens on the back you can see your subject on if you don’t fancy the viewfinder. But, there’s more pressure I’d say on modern day photographers. They’re expected to have the perfect image, every time and then there are the hours of editing and all the software they need to know.

Photography is a lifestyle

Being a photographer is more than a full-time job, it’s a lifestyle. You must spend most of your waking hours either planning, shooting or editing. There’s no real escape. Plus, all your money goes back into your work as equipment is extortionate. In my opinion both film and digital have their perks and downfalls. Neither is easy, and photographers deserve more credit.

Is a photo easier to capture in the modern day? Yes, I’d say so. However, all the prep and after maths that goes into a single photo leads me to prefer older times with film photography. Not everyone could afford a camera, so there was less competition, perhaps. Both have their struggles, but I’d say at a professional level, neither is easy.

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