Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Saturating Hobby

    Photography has gone mainstream. For the past couple of weeks, I cannot count the times I’ve seen people displaying their SLRS in public, capturing photos whenever they can. They capture their friends and families hanging out, scenic places I never thought had any potential in the raw, random objects captured for artistic purposes that sometimes make no sense at all. Every little opportunity they find, they shoot and I’m sure they’ve never felt so supported more than ever.

    The recent holidays proved enough fuel to ignite the spreading fire. Generous gestures from loved ones and the effects of good cheer paved ways for people who just love taking photos to be considered a ‘photographer’ through gaining an SLR. It is the perfect season when people can start switching their point and shoot digital cameras for those black, professional-looking, expensive and kick ass gears. It always starts from there until they buy other equipments that go with it as if they are grooming a pet to be exhibited in a future show. Gone were the days when you see SLRS used only in important events, or by professional photographers, art students and media professionals. To be considered a passionate photographer, an advocate for the arts or simply a hobbyist with resources, one doesn’t have to reach so high. Photography has already hit the mainstream.

    I’ve never realized so many people are photography enthusiasts. Walking in Bonifacio High Street on weekends or even on a normal day I can never fail to spot at least 2 people holding out their SLRS capturing grass, structures and their company. In malls I see people with SLRS. In normal family gatherings, people I know whom I’ve never imagined getting serious with photography, bought gadgets that would cost so much for me to comprehend. My cousin, who loves to take pictures, unofficially gave her point and shoot Sony Digital camera to me because when she got back from Dubai she already bought an entry level Canon SLR. A family friend bought Canon SLR just before Christmas as well and started bringing it to every social event they could go to. A neighbor, 4 years younger than I, bought a Nikon entry level camera after saving up roughly 3 months of her pay in her first ever job. Photography, either a form of art or a profession, which seemed so unreachable before is now just a personal decision people can make any day.

    There are good effects and ways to think about it. Filipinos just love taking photos that it’s very amusing to think that most would love to evolve it into something more serious. More and more people have become sophistically artistic. I’d also like to think that the elite art form of photography is reaching out to people and vice versa. Since there is more demand, more support and supply will expect to mushroom. Photography, slowly becoming pang-masa, is not really a bad thing though.

    But putting myself in a photographer’s shoes, I should be proud that the art form is gaining success. Being main stream is an advantage in terms of level of support in various forms. But there is always a tendency to saturate. There is nothing novel and interesting about photography when most people do it. If anybody with an SLR could be called a photographer, then the photos will just have to separate the real ones from the posers that happen to own an SLR. This could prove irritating especially to people like me.

    Truth is there’s a sudden boom of photography that some people who instantly think of themselves as “photographers” are buying SLRS for various reasons. Put in the cliché reasons of relishing an art form of capturing brilliant memories and moments in the finest color or imagery possible. Maybe they have graduated from the point and shoot digital cameras that they want to manipulate the effects of their own shots, hence the SLRS. That is glorifying to know, however, some have specific quirks and amusingly funnier reasons of looking at it.

    I know some people who bought SLRS just for the heck of it. Since photography is within reach now, everyone seems to be jumping into image appreciation through photography. It’s become a fad. My cousin who just loves taking photos bought hers because the imagery is better and anyone can easily get an SLR. She might get great photos but she will never go beyond where the real photographers tread.

    I also know some people who got SLRs and started to capture images because it’s USO. You’re cool if you have an SLR. There is a license to sport it and display it whenever you can. It has transformed into a signature of ‘financial capability’ and ‘artistry.’ It’s true that photography is within reach more than ever, but a good SLR isn’t cheap. To have a kick ass gear, or just a basic gear in itself promotes a stigma of being “cool.” It saddens me because some could easily sift photographers from posers riding in the respect and coolness of real photography. In some cases, it’s become pathetic.

    Some people even have personal quirks on why they bought SLRS and jumped in the wagon in the first place. Aside from the pictures it produces, some would always get a tingling sensation upon hearing the click of the shutter. Some like the bulk and the professional aura of the black SLR in their hands. Others, especially guys, use it as a tool to start a conversation with their respective targets. A guy with an SLR must indicate something. He’s serious, financially capable and artistic. What kind of girl doesn’t like that? These are some of the reasons I’ve personally witnessed and theorized.

    I may take lots of pictures and I appreciate photography, but I’m not a photographer. I am not going to buy an SLR no matter how strong my support is, not because it’s gone mainstream, but because it’s not my calling. It takes a lot of effort, both artistic and technical-wise, to be serious with photography, and I’m not the type who would go there and spend for an SLR. If ever I may have disposable resources and I just love taking good pictures, I may buy an SLR out of nothing. It would be my own personal quirk, but I won’t immediately identify myself as a photographer. I just hope most get that fact because I’ve been a witness to public posers declaring and projecting themselves as photographers and I go weak in behalf of real photographers out there. It’s not really the amount of competition there is, but the usage of the title. There were tons of conversations I’ve eavesdropped and lots of projections I’ve witnessed that come with the SLR boom that made me want to throw their SLRS in mid-air.

    Photography is a distinct and masterful art. It deserves to be respected and glorified. Unfortunately, merely owning an SLR is not enough. It takes years of hard work to become a real photographer. Buying for the heck of it is fine, but declaring and projecting yourself above what you normally are isn’t. Don’t use the word photography. You might be just a mere poser with a kick-ass SLR. See you on the streets.

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