Photography, for better or for worse.

Photography, for better or for worse.

In this day of auto this and auto that, it’s difficult not to get the technical side right but what about using your knowledge to be more creative.

So what  makes the difference between snaps and good shots ? Well generally speaking, other than some luck and accidents, it’s of course down to the photographer , not the equipment.

I lent a camera to a friend (non photographer) last week, on returning it he said, “Now I know, why your shots are so good”  Not being too impressed by that strangely worded compliment, or was it a compliment at all ?  I asked to see the shots he had taken.


They were correctly exposed and in focus, for him that seemed to be  the definition of a good shot but for me they were snapshots !  Trying to analyse why he thought that  exposure and sharpness, were the be all or end all of an image, I decided to do a bit of digging, was it  lack of interest or something a lot worse. In fact it’s a problem with his eyes. It was obvious too me that he wasn’t using them, he just wasn’t taking the time needed to decide what he wanted in the image, the light, composition and everything else that makes a good picture on top of just exposure and sharpness.

This seems to be almost a virus caused by the technical possibilities and ease of use of  digital cameras, we are moving into a real epidemic very fast. We’ve seen it with amateurs turning pro overnight but now I’m seeing more and more good photographers, as well as beginners and advanced amateurs, neglecting the basics.


Tripods are cumberson and sometimes heavy, The temptation of not using one or even leaving it at home  saying too yourself  “I’ll just up the iso if  I’ve not enough light and I’ll de-noise it in photoshop.”

As well as tripods other  things spring to mind.  ” I can’t be bothered fitting progressive filters, or any other type as I can get similar results in Photoshop” or  “that details not important , I’ll retouch it out afterwards,” Or “I’ll leave a lot of space then I can crop in afterwards”  or ” I’ll bracket the exposures that way it’s easy”. Now those are just a few examples ,  we will soon be able to focus after taking the picture, in fact that already exists. All this shows  why the level of medium level photography is dropping, those once good photographers are turning slowly into snappers.

unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix for this virus and it seems to be being transmitted from photographer to photographer very quickly, so what can be done ? what are the other causes? and how does it effect the art or business side of things ?


As I’ve said there’s no quick fix, a large part of the public and some photographers  don’t care, as long as Auntie Mary is in focus  on the wedding pictures, badly cropped or uninteresting images seem to be accepted by public, who are maybe more interested in what it costs rather than the creative side but that’s more a business problem.


The creative side only really becomes important after a few weeks of having a the famous well exposed and in focus shot, on your mantel piece or wall for a few days. Then after looking at it often it becomes boring and from that moment yours eyes don’t even notice it’s there . Why ?  That’s simple to answer it’s not a piece of art , just a recording of a moment that has no artistic value, probably better to stick it in an album with the other snaps.

The main reason is  education but who should be educated the photographer, or the viewer ? Let’s have a think about it. If the photo is taken for one’s private viewing it doesn’t really matter unless the photographer wants to improve his work, in that case his education will be either from photo schools, books, private lessons, the internet or through a photo club.


Serious photo schools that offer some sort of qualification, after a lot of hard work , I’ve no problem with that, except few people  profit from them, time restriction leaves the schools mainly for the younger generation.  Although those schools where you get  a photographers certificate in 3 days should be steered clear of I think 🙂

Private lessons, well that depends totally on who’s giving the lessons, which is often relative to price. Therefore a big budget as many lessons will be needed.


So what about photo clubs ? Well if you can find a good one, that isn’t dominated by so called rules, plus one having members who have different specialities, Images can become stereotyped because of those dammed non existing rules. You need a club that has a decent teaching background, they are very difficult to find I’m afraid.

No problem with books either as long as you can understand and put into practice what is written by the author. Some books written by very clever people tend to make the subject incomprehensible , unless you have a degree in Physics. So keep your reading simple and too the point. Most of us don’t care how the maximum aperture of a lens is arrived at , after all it’s written on the lens !  Plus circles of confusion are just that, confusing !  Internet can be fine, I find that the young photographers tend to look at the youngsters lessons,

maybe a more dynamic presentation but is the content there ?


A little example and quote from a remark on one of my tutorials

“nearly skipped this video when i saw this old geezer, but you was straight to the point and made it easy to understand like an old school teacher unlike some other videos out there by the younger generation talking about there whole life story before they get to the point.”

Now why on earth would he have thought I would know less than a youngster, it will remain a mystery 🙂

It’s pretty clear that a little of each type of teaching ,  carefully selecting the parts you need is the best way. This means hard work and being hard on yourself to only accept the best image you are capable of ant any given time As only you can judge your work. How many times have I heard “my mum says I take great shots and should be a photographer” followed up by “are you looking for a photographer”

What about the viewer or even worse the client, well guys the only way they can be educated is by the photographers. We must show them shots that are so good that they will be tempted to spend the money needed,for exceptional  results or  to buy your prints. There’s no other way so  you pros, stop whinging get out, take great shots and show up the cowboys.


Do you really think it was easier in the 1970s for young guys starting out. I can tell you the quality of  photographers work was amazing, we had to work hard to make a reputation, now all you have is relatively bad work as competition and you complain !  Come on get off your xxxxxx and go and see  future clients.

None of the pictures in this article are technically perfect, in the eyes of my friend,  Although I feel and I hope you do as well, that the movement adds to the image quality. It’s no accident each of these pictures was thought about carefully
before shooting and the settings adjusted accordingly.

We must not forget that it’s not the camera but the eyes of the photographer that count.




Retired advertising photographer, now living in the Gers France and having a great time.


  1. Photoshop is for fixing things that the photographer messed up. HDR photography is just CGI, neither the work of a photographer or an artist. The only way to become a photographer is to love taking photographs and learn how to improve your photographic skills. Photography is a passion that can take you places that you never imagined.
    It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer’s brain that is most important. The thinking bit, what do I know or what do I need to know to take the perfect shot of a subject, what piece of equipment can I use that I; already have/can make/can buy to improve the result I want.
    Loving taking almost perfect (perfect never happens)photographs is what any photographer should strive to do. Photography is all about self improvement not fame or votes on a web site. The camera, equipment,computer programmes and vast sums of money could produce the image of a lifetime but one good photograph in a lifetime is not photography it’s luck!
    It’s a love affair.
    Sorry about he rant Phill, but you get it, and I get it and it’s very hard to explain. Keep up the good work and thank you.

    • I think that’s absouloutly right I’ve said to so many people , if you get a perfect shot give up photography ! for one of two reasons.

      1 because you don’t know anything about photography and
      2 Because you have reached the summit of your profession , well anyway you think you have, probably because you don’t know anything about photography.

      Perfection doesn’t exist.

      The one possible other use for photoshop is as a tool, not to repair images but help photography aspire to different artistic categories.

  2. That’s a good point I should have mentioned it, but so many aren’t using it that way.

  3. While there’s a lot of truth in what you say Phill, I think your looking at things , forgetting one thing. There’s a lot of really good work around, that we would never have seen before photoshop, by good photographers and creative people. OK. Don’t over retouch but use it for creative ends is the way to go.

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