by Malcolm Mathieson Published 01/04/2005
Guest Editorial by Malcolm Mathieson
P for Professional or P for Pathetic.
What has happened in our profession, are camera manufacturers to blame or is it us photographers? Have we forgotten how to use the other settings on our cameras, have we forgotten about the basics?
I have to wonder. I had the pleasure and pain of judging a recent professional photographic competition in the United Kingdom and there were some obvious changes in the submissions from those that I had seen in past years both, in the UK and elsewhere throughout the world.
What is most obvious is that photographers are using more and more the "P" setting, thinking that will give them results that stand out in competitions and, dare I say it, also in the market place. I am afraid the opposite is true. Without true professionalism the work becomes mundane, boring and has no chance of wining a competition, let alone demanding a high price in the real world of your customers.
Print quality, I mean density, colour balance and so on, was in most cases, I mean most...very low. Many photographers choose to print their own, not a bad thing - but when it is obvious that they have little, if any, knowledge of the technical side of printing it becomes another reason their prints do not win and the more discerning public question why they should buy from them when the can do a print on their computer printer, just like Joe Professional. Please take the time to learn how to print or send your work to a professional laboratory.
Getting lazy and setting your camera on P or, even more concerning, not understanding the way to use your lens' focal length and aperture along with shutter speed to create separation between the point of interest, foreground and background is a major issue these days. P for professional, as I say, is a JOKE, it is the setting for use when, perhaps in sheer panic, you do not have time to think - and let's be honest, how often is that? It is not the universal settings for all work. You need to know what the relationship between shutter speed and aperture is. You need to understand the basics of how to use focal length to create interest in your images and how to use depth of field. These basics are vital when entering competitions and also in the market place. Use them to separate your images and business from the crowd. Anyone can take a snap set at P for pathetic.
The problem here is that this trend towards the pathetic has been coming for a long time; those old enough remember the days of hand-held light meters and cameras without light meters at all, yes shock horror - they were not that long ago. You had to learn how to take a reading and then adjust the settings on your camera. There were organisations called camera clubs in almost every town and keen amateur photographers would go along and learn the basics, you had to or you wasted a lot of film and money. These days we have "auto everything" settings and digital "film" - to take heaps of rubbish. Sorting out the good stuff is only an issue of time, not wasted film...but in those days time was money! Have things changed that way too?
So what we need to do as a profession is learn the basics, and when the SWPP & BPPA runs courses, go along and learn how to make your work stand out, how to use all those settings on your camera and how to win the next competition by entering professional quality images...not poor ones.
Malcolm has agreed to write a controversial column
for back of each issue from now on - so watch out!
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