Gear or Taste?

In the current disrupted market of professional photography, it’s interesting to look at what people are choosing to do to expand their reach and continue to bring in revenue. A predictable avenue is to use the web to distribute educational content, both free and paid. David Nightingale’s Chromasia is almost an ancestor, and I’m watching with interest what Zack Arias is doing with dedpxl. In both cases, they give A LOT to the community, and I do hope to see them thrive.

But i’ve noticed a more discreet trend, that I hope will grow: instead of focusing on gear like the first generation of web resources, they are more and more focusing on the act of photography, on the culture behind the art, on the history of it all. This may be a product of my personal journey, but I’ve been hearing a lot of people lately saying “learn to see” and “look at the masters”.

Like many people I’ve been afraid that “everyone has a camera” means “everyone’s a photographer” which in the end means the death of photography. It’s not an elitist point of view: art should give perspective to life, and photography can’t give that perspective if it’s a continuous recording and redisplay of our lives, 24/7.

But instead, it seems there seems to be a movement to educate people’s photographic taste and to help the more talented to develop that taste and create good pictures: Zack’s running his assignment series; David duChemin started a new series of articles called, quite unoriginally, “Study the Masters“[^1]; “The National” newspaper in Abu Dhabi, where I live, chose to celebrate it’s six anniversary with an “all pictures” issue (starkly contrasting with Libération’s recent “no pictures” issue).

This gives me joy and hope: whatever photography looks like in 10 years, I’m ready to bet that it won’t be dead.

[^1]: which I’ve added to the photography resources on the blog.

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