Photography is more than a push of a button

Photography shouldn't be devalued due to the simplicity of cellphone photography


Karissa Schmidt, JagWire editor-in-chief

Scrolling through Instagram, I notice so many accounts made by people who claim to be photographers, even though their accounts include photos ridden with filters and taken with iPhones. While I applaud the rise in photography and people’s love to take photos, this shift toward social media oversimplifies the art of photography.

These accounts may post pretty pictures, but that doesn’t qualify their work as professional photography. The reality behind it is, Instagram has caused people to believe that just because they take pictures with their iPhones and set the Aden or Lark filter on the photo, they are suddenly amazing photographers.

In no way am I saying that I am a professional when compared to these other photographers, though. In fact, my experience as a photographer is composed of my experience on the JagWire for three years and placing in photography contests at the regional, state and national level. Because of this, I believe photography takes more skill than just pulling out your phone and snapping a picture.

My problem with cellphone photography is the inability to change camera settings. The reason phones make photography seem easy is because all it takes is the basic motion of touching the screen to focus and tapping the screen to take the picture.

Using a DSLR camera takes practice and the knowledge of adjusting camera settings manually. When I take photos, I am constantly changing the focus, shutter speed, aperture, white balance and ISO on my camera to get the perfect shot. As opposed to phones, cameras have the ability to manually change these settings.

Yet, I do think phones have become beneficial in quick photo opportunities. At a time where it may take too long to pull out a camera or some don’t want to spend the money to buy a quality camera, the quick action of a cellphone camera is appealing.

Also, thanks to cellphones, anyone has the access to take and share photos from all over the world. On the Mill Valley News Twitter account, there are times that we post photos taken with a phone to live tweet an event. Still, those photos hardly, if ever, are used in our online and print publications, since the quality is not nearly comparable to photos taken by a high-resolution DSLR.

Photographs used to be something to treasure, and people would appreciate the effort the photographer went through to capture that single moment in time. I still go to websites like the Time top 100 photos of the year and admire what lengths photographers went to get just one amazing photo.

With the rise of social media and posting photos, the focus is now on which filter makes your photo better and how many likes you will get on that photo. Social media — Instagram in particular — makes what famous photographers such as Ansel Adams and Jay Maisel do seem so easy.

I happen to love social media, though, and I love posting photos to my Instagram. But if anything, I want people to understand that while posting photos to social media is great, it’s important to take a moment to appreciate those who have mastered the use of a real camera and have used that power to capture images without worrying about what filter to use or how many likes they will receive on Instagram.

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