The “right” shot: myths of a “good” photographer

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This article was written by Kenzo Kimura, class of 2019.

Any social media app feels like a game; once you gain more than 500 followers, you suddenly feel like you’ve achieved something; you think your posts are superb, and the sensation of elitism finally circulates throughout your consciousness.

However, it’s the second point of that sentence that comes off as either subpar at most or true – “you think your posts are superb.”

Because of the extensive availability – the sharing of ideas and anything as simple as football updates to New York Times articles – social media eventually became the epitome of idea sharing for people from all backgrounds and places since the early 2000s, allowing a new platform for picture posting and international communication.

In simple terms: anyone can post anything.  

However, there’s a fine distinction between a good photographer and a not-so-good photographer – it’s the ability and artistic value of the person.  Regardless of whether or not your pictures come out well; I strongly believe that if you put enough emotion, purpose and attention to detail in your photo, it will always come out above satisfactory. Keep in mind, being “good” or “bad” becomes subjective when it’s on a social media platform. Anyone can judge, and not every opinion values as right or wrong. Regardless, terrible photos do exist. If you cut someone’s head off in a picture or shoot with distorted lighting – keeping viewers from seeing the subjects of the picture – then that’s just a bad quality photo.

In simple terms: anyone can post anything.

Many people believe that they subjectively take “good pictures.” I could despise them but someone else might love them. Liking or disliking a picture is considered bias; however, mutual consensus does arise for many.

Amateur photographers and people in general assume one or more of these factors as the qualities necessary for a “good” photograph: camera quality, artistic “artsy” value (of the picture) and experience (of the photographer).

As an amateur photographer, I see all of these factors as complete myths; or at most, truths extended far enough that you should consider them #fakenews. I’ll be spitting no printer, only fax.

  1. Camera Quality

Camera quality does NOT determine your ability as a photographer. You can take quality pictures on a phone and a DSLR (professional camera). If you don’t know how a DSLR works yet call yourself a photographer, are you really one? Generally, many assume that the quality of your camera determines the quality of your picture; that in essence, is false. It’s not necessarily the camera that determines the quality of your picture, it’s the photographer and their skill set who determine the output.

(Photo/Kenzo Kimura)

2. Artistic Value of the Photograph

Some may see a photograph as art, others may see it as confusing or “too blurry.” As long as you see the message in your photo, your opinion becomes more valuable than that of those who judge it (unless you submit your work for competition and no one understands it).

(Photo/Kenzo Kimura)

3. Experience of the Photographer

Experience only goes so far. If you only recently started taking pictures as a hobby, you don’t necessarily need multiple years of experience. If you have enough determination, artistic self-awareness and the “right angle,” you can definitely produce a quality picture.

(Photo/Kenzo Kimura)

At the end of the day, people should post what they want, whenever they want. As long as the picture doesn’t have the intention of offending or harming anyone (and not associated with any photography competitions), the end of the debate between “good and bad pictures” becomes virtually nonexistent.

Photography is a gift to society. Shunning some and praising others for their photo-taking skills should not become the generic reaction towards something as simple as an Instagram post. Being a photographer doesn’t mean you have an expensive camera, a famous title or awards for your work — it means appreciating photos, taking photos for fun and being respective of those that share their photos.

Regardless of whether or not their photos are considered mediocre (and hopefully not terrible), a fine line between good and bad photography arises towards your reaction – being respectful of the art versus disrespectfully criticizing it.

Shoot your shot; photos become memories for one, but art for others.

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