Will Technology in Cameras Ever Reach the Point Where Photography Isn't Seen as a Skill?

Will Technology in Cameras Ever Reach the Point Where Photography Isn't Seen as a Skill?

This may seem like a negative article, heralding the apocalypse, but really, it isn't. It's an exploration of how our beloved craft has changed over the decades, its direction, and if there are comparable crafts that can help predict the trajectory.

Perhaps this will be difficult without naming names, but recently, a photography campaign met some derision. The images were to this photographer's style, but they were seen as dreadful for a professional campaign. The style is highly simplistic, and most of the insults flung at it were along the lines of anyone with a smartphone being able to replicate that standard. There was one comment which was as bitter as it was unoriginal, but it plunged me into deep thought, far deeper than the commenter would have ever considered their own words, I'm sure. The remark was: "I guess anyone can be a photographer these days."

We've all seen variations of this observation over the years, and as photographers, we have knee-jerk reactions to it. We can't help but defend the intricacies and nuances of our craft, with mastery eluding most. Nevertheless, there's becoming an increasing urge to set our photography apart from a smartphone camera, with real depth of field, for instance. With a background in philosophy, I can't help but turn the problem on all sides and see if my bias is clouding the truth. Let's play devil's advocate.

Does Photography Require More Skill, the Same Amount of Skill, or Less Skill than 50 Years Ago?

I feel the need to reiterate the caveat here: I'm a full-time professional photographer. If you feel under assault, believe me, so do I. But a question being difficult isn't a good reason to not ask it. How has photography evolved in terms of necessary photographer skill in order to create pleasing images? I have a gut reaction to this, but I'll explore each answer equally.

The Case for More Skill

With the rapid and constant growth of technology, the complexity of cameras has undoubtedly increased. The move to digital provided a lot of solutions, but there was also a steep ascent in how complicated the cameras have become. You don't necessarily need to understand every option on every menu and submenu, but to claim mastery of your little all-seeing box, you probably ought to. Gone are the days of a roll of film and a dial.

Then there is the vast landscape of post-production. While not strictly "photography;" it is part and parcel of the craft. As many of us are aware, post-production of photographs is far from exclusive to digital photography; there were photographers doing all manner of wizardry in the darkroom for well over a hundred years. Nevertheless, what can be achieved now is much more diverse and arguably more complicated. Furthermore, with the raising of the ceiling of what's possible in post, comes the raising of what is expected of an image too. What is seen as a good image now usually requires more post-production than what was needed 50 years ago, for instance.

Finally, there is all the periphery equipment. I didn't use studio lights or flashguns back in the 1970s on the grounds of nonexistence, but from what I've seen and read, the depth and control we have now over everything from modifiers to Kelvin is tougher to master.

The Case for the Same Skill

The same, but different: that's the general summary of my defense of the fence. As I mentioned, digital photography solved a lot of problems but created new ones. Furthermore, it simplified a lot of the photographic process and complicated it again. I don't believe there's any sound way of quantifying the skill required to be a good photographer 50 years ago or now to any meaningful level of accuracy, so arguing they are the same — or even more or less the same is tricky. You could certainly make the case that it isn't easier now or harder then, but just different.

The Case for Less Skill

This section requires some boundaries to be added to keep the discussion focused. Firstly, I can say with complete confidence the following claim: both taking a photograph and taking an average photograph are significantly easier than 50 years ago. I have no doubts that somebody will disagree with that — this is the internet after all — but I just can't imagine how anyone could disagree. The advent of smartphones and their ever-improving cameras universalized photography, making it part of everyday life, but the A.I. and algorithms ensuring the taker gets things in focus and properly exposed is what solidified its prevalence. In the past, taking an average picture — one just in focus and properly exposed — required some skill at operating a camera and some understanding of film and light. Now, an infant can take an in-focus, properly exposed shot. That isn't hyperbole either. A one-year-old can manage to open the camera app, point it, and press the big red circle; I've seen it!

So, what about a good photograph and better? So much of creating a good or even great image isn't involving the camera; composition, light, colors, and so on all play a fundamental role. That was true 50 years ago, and it's true now. The key difference is that when a beautiful moment presents itself: you're far more likely to nail the shot with a Canon R5 than you were with a Canon A-1. You have autofocus and Eye-AF, built-in light meters, histograms, guided settings, and so on. You may be able to argue that in-studio settings you go through more or less the same process, but I'd be suspicious of anyone who said they don't think it's easier now.

When Does a Skill Stop Being a Skill?

It's easy to presume that a skill is always a skill, but you would be surprised at just how many times that hasn't been the case. The advancement of technology makes skills obsolete with startling regularity, whether by accident or by design. You can more or less throw a dart in the air and hit a profession that has roles that have been made obsolete; this is known as "technological unemployment." In 2014, a study by Bruegel claimed that in 28 of the European Union's member countries, 54% of jobs were at risk of automation. This isn't exactly what we're looking at in this article, but it's certainly related. Once a task moves from being something that someone with experience had learned to do, and over to something that anyone can do, it's difficult to still call it a "skill."

Let's not forget we have seen parts of our own industry fall to technology already. The development of film was once seen as a skill, with brick and mortar stores offering that service. Now, few exist and most of the images taken do not require development or even film. Now you might argue that this doesn't indicate that photography itself will cease being a skill and I'd agree with you, but the takeaway ought to be that nothing is impervious. 

My Answer To the Question and My Cautious Optimism

I don't think photography is at any immediate risk of not being seen as a skill. Even if the act of taking a properly exposed, the in-focus picture became guaranteed by the camera, composition and other artistic considerations would differentiate those images in quality. As for the question of how much territory we can cede to technology and automation before photography isn't seen as a skill anymore, I'd say there's a fair way to go. What concerns me particularly — and I think it's inevitable — is the introduction of A.I. similar to that which we see in smartphones make their way into dedicated cameras. We've seen this to a lesser degree already, but that A.I. will eventually include computer learning and suggested compositions, and that's when photography, save for a fundamental shift in the craft, will be on the ropes.

If you'll allow me to go full Orwellian for a moment, can you honestly say it's unthinkable that a drone could fly around a city using A.I. to detect pleasing compositions and automatically post those images to social media? The first robot street photographer doesn't seem far away to me. The worst part is, I'd probably follow it on Instagram. The risk to any skill comes when technology can do it quicker, easier, cheaper, or better. 

What do you make of the question? Is photography less of a skill today than 50 years ago? What would need to be added to cameras to be the difference-maker? Am I totally off base in my analysis? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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49 Comments

Michael Yearout's picture

I don't think it is less of a skill. Can you teach composition (maybe but I don't think so). Can you automate composition - I doubt that will ever happen. Can you teach lighting (probably), but you probably can't teach the ability to think why didn't this particular lighting work, you have to figure it out for yourself through trial and error. Will lighting ever be automated? I don't think so. Yes you can teach Photoshop, but even then some people never fully understand and will it ever be automated. No it won't. I think the best photographers were born with the skill set, or at least the tendency for that skill set and developed it over time. Some people just don't have that and it can't be taught.

Kirk Darling's picture

Sure that automation will happen...well enough, particularly after naïve photographers have themselves suppressed the value of ingenuity.

Give a computer a library of poses, give it a library of faces, give it library of lighting systems. It will come up with pictures that are good enough for most of the market today. It's happening with CGI right now, with only a few creative people during the curating of the results.

But the public can be dumbed down enough to accept even uncurated results (which is what social media already largely is).

Ricardo Dawson's picture

Of course all of that will be automated through Machine Learning algorithms. It’s already being done to some extent, in Luminar AI, for example.

Salty Cremepuff's picture

Many people already don't see photography as a skill.

Timothy Roper's picture

Things that can be automated will be automated. But just because some photography can be, doesn't mean all of it can or will be. For one thing, drones aren't allowed in National Parks, so AI drone landscape photos are out. And it'll be a very long time before a robot with AI can hike through the backcountry looking for new things to photograph. And for another genre example, I don't see robots buying, cutting and arranging flowers for some still life photography anytime soon. Or even choosing clothes, make-up, and locations for a fashion shoot (although AI could certainly make suggestions). But if anyone's worried robots will be coming soon to replace what you do, best to pivot to a more creative area of photography. Or pivot to digital art, which is continuing to grow as an exciting new art form (and not just because of NFTs). If you're already spending X amount of time at a computer messing around with your photos, why not go all the way?

J.d. Davis's picture

Not looking to argue, just want to state an opinion...disagree if you must:

Photography is not a skill it is a craft. To be good at this craft takes skill.

J Big's picture

Perfectly on point!

MICHAEL BAXTER's picture

I totally agree!

David Illig's picture

Quibble.

J.d. Davis's picture

:) I see your quibble and raise you a PIFFLE!

Timothy Gasper's picture

Ever since they made PhD cameras, we've come pretty damn close to it already. Any more tech and we'll just have to think of taking a photo and cameras will obey.
Seriously though, it HAS become increasingly easier to take good, quality images, but it's not all accomplished in the camera now either.

Francis Drake's picture

Shouldn't we see super culling software right before getting automated photography?
"Naaa all your photos are crap, let me redo it for your" "OK" ^^'

Harald Engels's picture

Many so called photographers are just reality cloning tech geeks (with reliance on autofocus and high-end gear etc.) or digital editors (if you can't take the right picture you simply alter it in Adobe software). This website is also contributing to the trend to make photography a technical procedure instead of an artistic skill. The advertisement money driven structure of the Internet has caused a trend where the majority of websites and Youtube videos is always about the newer, sharper, better and more expensive gear and not about photography as a skill or art form. I understand that with articles about photography as an art form and about using older gear you won't make money or you won't feel "hip" (no geek coolness). This is the "zeitgeist" and my rant won't change this decline in artistry and expression of photographers. Photography is on its way to get reduced to a media source for online content creators with results which are dull, exchangeable, soulless, short-lived and irrelevant. In a couple of years I am convinced you geeks will discuss the differences between the AI algorithms and try to tweak those. These technical tweaks will then be the sole human intervention in the image shooting process beside holding the camera and pointing it into a specific direction. Images will be taken continuously and the AI decides based on your preferences which "shots" get extracted as a photo. The only needed skill is then to understand the software and to configure it to your liking. Enjoy!

Eric Robinson's picture

It's such a simple answer. No.

Eric Robinson's picture

If you think the answer is yes, then you need to rethink what it takes to shoot a great image and it's not the underlying technology. To take a great image in any one of the genres you care to think of ; landscape, documentary, portraiture, sports, wildlife, etc. the deciding factor has always been the eye and the finger controlling the shutter. It's the creative mind that will always be in control, deciding on, to quote a photographic cliche' that decisive moment. Those immersed in the on-line photography world of collecting 'likes' I think may be missing the point of what constitutes and is required to take and create a really great image. While computer driven tech can 'win' in the logical world of chess it is still very difficult for it to succeed in the more subtle artistic arena of the arts.

Michael L. McCray's picture

I think the greatest negative impact of AI is here but not fully comprehended. Most of my focus photographically is on what AI cannot do, yet.

Adam Hynes's picture

“This may seem like a negative article”. I am a professional photographer. I love reading news about photography. Fstoppers writes the dumbest articles imaginable. Negativity, stupidity. This is the last one. I’m blocking Fstoppers from my newsfeed. How disappointing. You guys can do so much better!

El Dooderino's picture

K' Bye!

Don't forget to ask for your money back!

Mark Guinn's picture

I think it's important to recognize the difference between "skill" and "talent." Skill is the technical knowledge and ability to take a good photo. Perfect example is any one of the Instafamous. There's a specific formula to make their pics popular... a) go to an expensive location that's not really accessible by commoners, b) show some skin, c) apply Instagram filter. These people have the skill to take a generally pleasing photo and give the viewer a superficial momentary emotion.

Talent, though, takes it to the next level. Talent has a certain passion that can disregard the formulas for popularity to create an image that conveys a deeper emotion, something that the viewer remembers long after they've moved on. I've seen so many great photographers here that use their skill (technical knowledge) as a resource to support their talent (that "artistic eye"). The skills may change over time, but the appeal of the true art that can be created won't be killed off.

The music industry is constantly going through the same worries. I remember when Aerosmith released the first completely digitally recorded album and so many people in the music world went nuts, terrified that this was the beginning of the end for good audio engineering / production talent. Almost anyone can sit down at a computer now and make a song that is technically good, but it stills takes an artist to make the listener really feel the emotion behind the music. The talent is still very much needed even though the skills have changed.

Ricardo Dawson's picture

The aspect that most profoundly contributes to a photograph being impactful is the story it tells, not the quality of the technique. AI can mimic good technique (composition, lighting, etc.) through machine learning (trained by thousand of good photos taken by humans) but it will take much more than that to be able to recognize that there might be a potentially important story behind an image.

Andrew Almeida's picture

Modern photography hasn't been seen as a skill for quite some time. Clients still see photography as a hobby, not a career.

Nate Jones's picture

Skynet

David Pavlich's picture

"John Connor....it is time." :-)

Jan Holler's picture

It really depends on what kind of skill is meant: Taking a technically good photo? The answer is yes. Technology will reach that goal, it already has reached quite a level. If it is about the photo itself, the story it tells, the composition, light, etc, the answer is no - meaning (good) photography will still be seen as a skill.

MICHAEL BAXTER's picture

I fully agree with J. d. Davis that photography is a craft.

What concerns me literally today is that many of the existing tools for engaging in the craft are getting pushed by the wayside via the economic largesse of camera companies who are flooding the market with new mirrorless camera technology. This phenomena is taking away choice for photographers, as gear wears out and replacements are no longer available.

An important dimension left out of the article is in what dimensions new technology is pushing away from what actually is photography. MILCs and the cameras in mobile communication devices are so automated and infused with AI, that it could be argued that the person using such image-making tools are not really doing photography. And what they are doing requires less and less skill to make an image.

A photographic camera is a tool for an artist. The artist makes a creative decision for a precisely controlled time interval, and focus setting, based on what they see through the viewfinder. Using all parts of their mind, including all that they know.

The intersection of photography as a craft; skill for lighting, composition, tonal relations, printing etc; and photographic cameras as an artistic tool is: the artistry only made possible from seeing with your own eyes. Not a digital facsimile of reality presented on a miniature video camera screen.

I have at least $30K invested over the years in my DSLR systems. Under no circumstances whatsoever am I jumping the shark to MILCs, starting all over again, nor being compatible with MILCs, which are a non-future of actual photography. MILCs are probably great tools making videograms that support an Augmented Reality driven social media market. But that's not photography, it's so automated as to not even be a craft, and videograms are certainly not fine art photographs.

sam dasso's picture

We already reached that point. Don't believe me? Then buy,rent or borrow Sony RX100 VII, set it on multi-shot and intelligent auto and give to the kid. You'll be amazed with resulting images. Some of them will be artistic by definition of so called pros. Of course you can do the same by giving bigger brother or sister like Sony Alpha 1 or A7RIV to the adult who can hold heavier camera.

Timothy Roper's picture

Or just use your iPhone, which will produce the best results most of the time.

David Pavlich's picture

So, with all the hand wringing about where photography is headed, what do we do? I'll just keep doing what i do and not worry about AI or mirrorless or any of the other things that seems to have so many in a tailspin. I have a lot of fun with photography. I'm not going to allow this seemingly disastrous route of photography make me hate what I do. You should do the same.

MICHAEL BAXTER's picture

This is totally fair. I certainly don't hate what I do.

Aside from the definition of whatever photography is, or is not, my primary point is that pre-existsing DSLR equipment has a finite lifetime due to wearout from use, and that future has now been foreclosed.

Our ability to continue to enjoy working taking photos where the photons emergent from the scene in the viewfinder are actually seen by the artist's eye in realtime is now limited by equipment wearout and unfortunate accidents. This equipment is becoming less and less replaceable or repairable.

So: we now have to start at look at taking actions like lifetime buys for DSLR equipment. Because the cameras -- and now the lenses -- have been discontinued. It's only remaining stock, refurbished and used equipment that's available. For example, the manufacturing line for 30+ years of Canon EF lenses is being shut down.

The manufacturers like Canon are trying to force the use of a totally new technology.

I will not have my creative tools taken away!! Just because Canon has abandoned professional photography in favor of consumer videography.

David Pavlich's picture

I'm old enough not to have to worry about DSLRs being gone. I'll have assumed room temperature well before DSLRs vanish. :-) In the mean time, if the photo piggy bank allows, buy a couple of the still available DSLRs of your choice and store them in a dry, safe place.

My comment about buying and storing are sincere. I'm not trying to funny. If stored properly, they should be fine for many, many years. If you're using Canon or Nikon, you know that the lenses will hold up for a LONG time. I know a couple of photographers, my son included, who have put 10s of thousands of shots on their cameras well beyond what the manufacturers say is the typical shutter life. Heck...I believe Canon says that the 1Dx series are good for 400,000 clicks. My son put more than that on a 5DIII and it is still working in the hands of his second shooter.

MICHAEL BAXTER's picture

I hear you. I have trended in that direction, I bought a 2nd 7D Mark II in anticipation of the current trend. I may well get a 3rd one of those, and also a 2nd 5Ds/R.

Working a lot is hard on cameras and lenses. I have 16M belly dance fotos alone, plus other work, over the last 17 years. The work fills most of a 8TB USB hard drive. A backup copy to a second archive volume took 34 hours at USB 3.0 speeds and with a fast machine.

This work burned through four cameras and even more lenses. I have definitely used several cameras at far beyond 400K clicks.

I had to repair a 20D, a 7D twice, and also a 1D Mark III, which later died. My second 1D Mark III went with me face first into a river in Switzerland, and came back to States just a little too beat up for continued work.

Over time, due to literally wearing out in the middle of shows (and some accidents), I've lost the entire Holy Trinity of lenses: 16-24mm f/2.8L, 24-70mm f/2.8L and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. But also the much revered 85mm f/1.2L. And some others.

That's why this issue is of concern.

A M's picture

If you've ever had to deal with crappy clients, you'd know we are already there... "but I can do that on my phone..."

Malcolm Wright's picture

This was mentioned at the start of the article '..and if there are comparable crafts that can help predict the trajectory.' , but not explored.
How long after photography appeared were people asking 'what is the future for artists who paint with oils, gouache (acrylics) and water colours now?'
Interestingly Queen Elizabeth the second of England had sat for at least 129 portraits to be painted by September 2015.
Whilst there doubtless are still starving artists who work with a paint brush or palette knife, there are also some very famous artists whose works fetch high prices during their own lifetimes. There is also still a thriving amateur following with good sales of the materials needed to create art, along with workshops by many local artists.
Some technologies refuse to die, for example a photograph of a trip hazard is best taken with a polaroid instant camera and a coin of the realm as a comparative, to avoid the accusation of photo manipulation in a court of law.

There are also reportedly more horses and horse riders in the UK now than there were before the invention of the automobile.

I would hazard a guess that what we currently call A.I. is based on learning algorithms, which rely on replicating previous actions to achieve known outcomes and completely lack the spontaneity of the human creative process. They may look smart and speed up workflows but are little more than lightroom presets. If there were a wildcard in their make up the chances are that the percentages of unacceptable images would be too great for most public consumption. So I don't think there's much cause for concern. People keep on doing what they enjoy and I've yet to see a framed selfie adorning a family residence wall.

As for crappy clients they exist in all commercial activities, ' I could have done a better job myself..' is an attempt to get a discount. In manufacturing it's usually complaints about bad quality made to a Director or Managing Director without any previous mention to the manufacturers Quality team, and usually no evidence other than an email. Such complaints tend to arrive just before the customer anticipates the annual price negotiation is due..

Kevin Connery's picture

This has been a topic of discussion since (at least) 1888, with the introduction of the Kodak, tone of he first roll-film cameras. The photographer didn't have to be a chemist, didn't have to focus, didn't have to do anything other than point and push a button.

Yet here we are, 130+ years later, asking the same question

Until/unless AI develops to the point where it can not only compose a shot of a scene that's present but can also create the scene desired by the customer/consumer/end-user, photographers will still be around. Different and/or additional skills will likely be needed, but that's been the way things have always been.

Wet plate lead to dry plate, dry plate to film, sheet film to roll film, black and white to color, analog to digital; each transition has required some new skills, some older ones faded away., and some, like composition, aesthetics, etc. remained.

It's easier than ever before to get an acceptable image, but it's no easier to make an outstanding one, and not just because the standards for greatness are higher than ever before. This has held true since the earliest days of photography.

Michael Gerstman's picture

In the 20 odd years I was a photographer I gleaned a large amount of knowledge. I can remember when photography was fighting to be considered an art, just like any other art. I used this knowledge to pass it on to younger people doing photography.. How to get the shot the first time or with simple bracket exposures. And you only had 36 exposures to use. Now the person with the camera just keeps shooting until he or she gets whats what they want, learning nothing, they have 300 pictures on an SD card and maybe the last one was ok. And the next time doing the same thing again. Eventually every job will be replaced by AI. People develop skill sets by doing, it's something that cannot be taught.
There was a joke I remember about a guy who buys a camera.
He goes around telling everyone he is a photographer.
His father says to him "Look, to your mother and your relatives you may be a photographer, but to a photographer, you are not a photographer"

Alex Yakimov's picture

Probably son from the joke copies fathers behaviour by valuing title over substance.

Rich Umfleet's picture

Deceptive title as "photography" is not a skill in 99.9% of people who ever pick up a camera. So, going by the numbers overall... Yes, machines have taken over! For those of us in that 0.1%, I hope I'm in there, AI will never replace our talent other than being able to randomly come up with something nice every now and then.

Catherine Bowlene's picture

I absolutely agree with people saying what can be automated will be and it can be seen even now, when we have lots of decent automatic colorizers like Photoglory or MyHeritage and AI-powered photo editors like Luminar, Photoworks, Topaz, you name it. Still, all these automatic functions will never replace people who apply their own view and taste to the photos they take and that's why technology will never reach the point when the skill is no longer needed. For example, many people rely on their cameras' meter to get well exposed images, but the camera meter isn’t quite as smart as it is thought to be. This is just an example and that can be fixed in the future, but the point is that while technology aims at saving our time and making our work easier it will never replace actual people with their experience.

Vito Valenzi's picture

Sadly it's already happened.. plenty of people even my family members have told me how my degree in film production is useless because there phone shoots in "8k"; not to mention how anyone with a phone can take a picture. Do I believe them...no however it makes it much harder to make a living from it sadly. Too many pop up "photographers" and "videographers" that it seems to the outside world that it's easy and not really a skill.

David Blacker's picture

Great article, Mr Baggs. I view it very much as you do. If taking an average photo is one's goal, then it's easier today than it has ever been before. In fact, it's downright child's play to take a technically good photo in most conditions. I also agree with you that technology has made the technical aspects of photography much easier.

For years, I thought DSLRs were very complicated instruments and avoided them. What an idiot I was. I think the only people who find the menus and options tough to master are those of us who come from a pre-digital era. Some years ago, I handed my 10-year-old son my 600D set to manual, with no explanations. He'd never touched a DSLR before, and in fact had had very little interaction with any digital camera. After he's taken a couple of badly underexposed shots, he got into the settings and asked me what he needed to adjust. I told him about ISO. In minutes, with no other knowledge, he took a perfectly exposed shot. I then told him what aperture and shutter speed did and he immediately figured out the menus. He was born into a digital world, and menus are as normal to him as turning a page in a comic.

Again, as the technical aspects of photography become easier to achieve, more of the editing process is going to become AI-automated, until it is almost completely automated as it already is on a mobile phone. Even composition suggestions. So digital retouchers are going to be obsolete before us photographers are.

So is it easier to take a good photograph (and there's still much argument as to what a good photograph is)? No, it's not. Many of the photographs people consider good are not. They're just eye catching as you roll through your IG feed. Personally, I think a good photo (and I'm generalising here) is one you'd be willing to hang a 5'x3' print of in your living room for a year.

And the robot street photographer you're looking for? He's Google Street View.

Waste Time's picture

Your article could have been done by AI. You are quite obsolete.

Rick Pappas's picture

Your comment about image editing (you call it "post") is : ".... not strictly "photography;" is unfortunate. Most of us shoot in a raw format. That, by design requires what we old photographers call "processing"...what you call "post". In years past, I did my "post" in a darkroom. One that included an early 1960's enlarger with a monstrous condensing lens, trays full of developer, fixer and wash and a "gloss dryer". I dodged, burned, tinted, composited and pin registered for increased sharpness. All of these things were necessary to get the final image to agree with my initial vision.

So, explain to me why image processing is not "...not strictly "photography".

Sourov Deb's picture

Photography and art will always be about Storytelling.

Roland Ayala's picture

Tech has already rendered the idea of photography as a skill obsolete. Anybody can snap a sharp, in focus, properly exposed photo — even wide open, which is sure to impress all their friends and family. As an art form (composition, creativity), which is what photography should be about anyway IMHO, I think tech has a long way to go — and I hope that day never comes. If and when it does, we’ll have tech writing songs, novels, and etc. too, which would rip away at the fabric of what it means to be human — like mindless drones having lost our will or ability to create. Today, thankfully, it’s still easy to spot the difference from people with talent versus people taking snapshots.

A M's picture

Some time ago, I had a chat with a professional sports photographer who proclaimed that "there's a lot of very expensive pieces of equipment out there, capturing poorly composed images. I am proud of what I produce because my camera is an extension of my arm - I know it inside and out, so that my responses are automatic - that means I can focus 100% on my goals when shooting. Technological change is fantastic - but when it gets to the point where the camera can make the decisions about what to capture, well, that's when I'll exit the craft."

I did experience his work, and it is excellent. And his camera was about 5 years old at the time.

David Illig's picture

I like the fact that I spend much less time fiddling with exposure and focus than I did in the past, and more time concentrating on composition. I’m sure that a camera could be developed that could analyze a scene and automatically compose a decent photo, maybe a really great photo, but that’s a different matter. It wouldn’t reflect the way I see the scene and it wouldn’t be my photograph.

Nate Jones's picture

The cell phone camera killed off the skill decades ago

Malcolm Wright's picture

It will be interesting to see if A.I. can ever cope with the whimsy that is the latest fashion or fad..

Rich Umfleet's picture

I think AI and/or robots can accomplish the picture taking part. I've held a camera out a window, firing blindly, and taken a couple of money shots. Where they will fail is in being able to pic out the one money shot amongst the thousands of duds. I don't see AI as ever being able to see art.