We’re All Photographers. Are We All Photographers?


Once Google Glass takes off, people may utter, “Glass, take a picture,” more often than talk to each other. It is already happening, come to think of it. Pictures are serving the role of conversations… I went to this café. I am at a party. I am stupid. Instead of narrating such stories with a touch of drama, we Instagram our lives straight into everyone’s timeline. Photography was always a language. But earlier, it was used to make a statement. Now there are statements, with a lot of chatter and small talk in between. So considering the millions of stray pixels that wander on to the internet every minute, is photography thriving? Or is it as we knew it dead?

It may be easy to dismiss these concerns as rants of nostalgia. Look a little closer and you will realise, the cancer is malignant. Photography is going through a bit of an existential crisis. On one hand, we have a legacy of practitioners who have defined and redefined the medium. On the other, we have six hundred and sixty-six faux-retro images of cupcakes that assault our Instagram feeds, every day. Which one of them is photography? Is there one photography?

This democracy is not as newfound as we may imagine, and nor is the crisis. There were similar pronouncements a hundred years ago, when Kodak asked us to press a button and leave the rest to them. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

We are all human beings. But are we all incredible human beings? We are all photographers, but not everyone manages to break on through, to the other side of magic. This analogy may have more to it. Perhaps, just perhaps, to be an fantastic photographer, you need to be a fantastic human being first. That may be the only way to survive the chaos of imagery, to embrace the excess and chalk one’s path through it. You need to breathe, feel, love and imagine. For whether you use a full frame or just plain old (not so old) Instagram, a great photograph takes fruit in your head and comes alive in your heart.

This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Better Photography.