How Photography has Changed


There was a time when many self respecting photographers would upgrade to a larger camera format.

I first tried moving up to the Mamiya 645super, but without a prism to look through, I was forced to do nothing but landscape shots. Then I really went up in the world with my purchase of the Mamiya RZ67. Now that was a really decent piece of kit. The rear magazine would revolve to suit portrait or landscape format, so I didn’t need the prism viewer. I used it in studio where it really belonged, but when the comedy circuit beckoned, I took it out on location to various back stage dressing rooms. It was there I got to really show what I could do. The camera was a beast. It needed professional lighting equipment to be set up for every sitting. There was nothing paparazzi or fly on the wall about it. What’s more, it commanded respect from even the biggest egos. It said that I meant business!

As for the technical limitations, it only shot 10 pictures before the need to reload, so I made them count. I’d often check the frame after a shot to make sure that it was uncluttered. Sometimes, if I really needed things to be perfect, I’d use the polaroid instant film back and take some snaps to check the light balance.

This was not the sort of camera that you’d see snappers using in the streets, whilst houning a celebrity. The Mamiya 67 had a certain sense of decorum and style.

The colours in the pictures were so much deeper than in 35mm and the slides were a pleasure to view on the light table. Even the less knowledgeable clients appreciated that part.

Still, after a while, I found the jobs I was being sent to cover got more and more into the grab it in an instant form of paparazzi photography we now see all the time. Back then though, 35mm film was still the only medium they used, so snappers had to have at least some level of technical know how.

Nowadays, with digital cameras everywhere, any idiot can do it. Standards have reached an all time low, and a phone can capture a 5megapixel image through a tiny plastic lens covered in pocket fluff and they’ll still publish it.

Every idiot with a digital SLR thinks that they are a pro photographer. This has adversely affected the wedding and portrait business deeply. Yet I keep thinking of the times back in history when a brand new method or photographic gizmo went and stirred up the art world. Each new labor saving device made the old guard gasp in horror as they proclaimed echos of the words to the effect that “From today, Painting is dead” A quote from the artist Paul Delaroche, speaking in 1839 after the invention of the Daguerreotype.

My point is that with every generation, comes easier image making. With those changes comes the demise of old outdated practices and sometimes even businesses.   This also ushers in new possibilities and creative opportunities for those who can think outside the box.


4 thoughts on “How Photography has Changed

  1. As a strictly amateur man behind the viewfinder I really agree with this piece. Photography has become so much easier in the digital format and a lot of people believe they are great as they have all the kit. A true photographer, in my mind will always stand out, but when it comes to weddings and other events they are most definitely being squeezed out by the brash and not that good.

    One wedding I went to I sent the couple a selection of my own shots and they said they were all way better than the official costly ones – and of course I did not have the benefit of privileged position that the wedding photographer gets. And of course you can see that I am reasonable but not that good from my own blog.

    However, for people like me it encourages me to be a little experimental but not be faced with costs they cannot afford. As a money maker I am sure photography is a whole load harder. MM 🍀

    • Thanks for your excellent comment, Meticulous: and I wholeheartedly agree ” …it encourages me to be a little experimental but not be faced with costs they cannot afford” especially when using a digital SLR set to Manual exposure and even manual focus. The first time I ever used one was for a job I did at the MOBO awards after party, which was basically a stage show. I remember suddenly noticing halfway through my usual “play it safe” photographic routine, that I could really experiment with the exposure to get all kinds of cool ways to show off the stage lighting. Until then I’d been happy if it was bright enough, but now I could get all the nuances of the lighting and even the laser backround effects too. That’s at least one improvement you get now due to digital, less use of intrusive camera flash with all its bland imagery.
      The flip side of that is that nowadays, when watching a concert, all you can see is bright little screens everywhere. Oh and don’t even get me started on iPads!

      • Sometimes I think people just want to be seen to be cool by going to a concert and boast to everyone they are there yet it completely gets in the way of being immersed in the event and enjoying it for what it is.

        It is a bit like a tourist jumping off a coach to go click click click with a camera and then it is off to the next destination. May as well have stayed at home and bought a photo book on the place. Photography is a bit like that for me too. There are those that state you have to have your camera at all times, or else you might miss something. In my mind you may miss alot by having a camera ready to take a picture – get a feeling for a place, a situation before deciding what to take and reflect its true soul. A camera ready to take a shot can get in the way of this and one is merely an outside observer rather than being a part of the experience.

        Hope I haven’t got you started on iPads……MM 🍀

      • Nothing wrong with having a camera ready, but there is a lot to be said for scoping out the feel of the play, and getting to know the subject first before snapping away. A little communication goes a long way. Even if you don’t speak the same language, as once happened to me in Cuba. I still made an effort to communicate with the people before I used my Nikon FM2.
        I’ll try and dig out those pictures when I get the chance.

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