From starting out as a device to capturing special events or family portraits, to being used to take selfies and Instagram photos, the camera has had a huge impact on American society. Its invention made it possible to capture real-life moments in an image that can be saved, cherished and looked at forever.
The art of photography is always changing. There was a point in history when photography was only done by professionals, but now most people carry a cell phone camera in their pocket.
Professor Phil Scorza, who teaches photography classes at Northwestern, said that the main reason for this change is because of ease.
“Now (with today’s cameras) you can shoot hundreds of photos, thousands of photos at a time,” Scorza said. “Photography is becoming less and less of a professional art; now anyone can do it.”
This art form has constantly been evolving since its inception.
“Back a long time ago, you could take one shot on a piece of metal, and you would have your image,” Scorza said. “People maybe had one or two photos of them in their life. Then it has evolved to being a book on a coffee table. But now seldom do they ever have a photo book, it’s now a digital file that a lot of times nobody sees. Now they upload versus produce photos.”
With the increase in photo-taking for social media, Scorza said that perhaps the artistic side of photography is dying, and along with it, the profession.
It has been estimated that every two minutes we snap as many pictures as all humanity took in the 1800s. Alec Soth, a professional photographer based out of Minneapolis posed the question, “How do you deal with being a photographer when tens of thousands of photographs are being uploaded to Facebook every second?”
The answer is not any easy one to find. With cameras so readily accessible, the demand for photographers is diminishing.
“Professional photographers now are rarely needed; anyone with a $1000 camera can do the same job,” Scorza said.
The sudden increase in photography done with high-end cameras has made it harder for professional photographers to showcase their work. Because of this, Scorza said that it is hard for a photograph to get accepted into any kind of gallery or contest. This makes Scorza wonder if people will continue to accept it as an art form.
Scorza said that the difference that makes a photograph art is the difference between someone who takes a simple snapshot versus someone who cares enough to look through a viewfinder, compose and take a picture.
Someone who actually cares enough to go through the work of capturing a good picture is the one who makes a photograph artistic.
“Don’t be a snapshotter,” Scorza said.