A few days ago I woke up before dawn to go set up my camera down on the Charles River. Being a professional photographer, my goal was to capture the magnificent sunrise that only early birds are privileged to appreciate – the water as still as glass, crisply mirroring Boston’s skyline and heaven’s golden morning rays. Having just recently purchased Canon’s newest DSLR camera and detachable lens, I thought this would be the perfect challenge for testing the capabilities of my new equipment.
The shot was set up perfectly. My tripod level, light meters adjusted accordingly, lens focused, and I was waiting for that perfect moment when the light just creeps over the buildings. However, I was soon interrupted by a loud, “hey!” Bewildered by the thought that someone had dared to interrupt me while I was working, I turned with a demeaning stare to discover that a young man and woman were standing just a few yards to my left. The woman was holding up her iPhone5 to take a low resolution picture of the beautiful scenic, meanwhile the man held in his hand the exact same camera and lens that I had.
Thinking to myself that they simply must have not realized I was a professional, I forced a smile before turning back to my set. But literally a second later the man interrupted my work once again by yelling at me, “nice camera!” Turning back towards the couple with full intentions of reprimanding them for disturbing my artistic flow, I was silenced in horror before even a word could escape my mouth. There the man stood with his camera set to “auto” mode, carelessly snapping away pictures like it was all fun and games, as if he were playing with a toy!
In attempt to forget the terror I had just witnessed I turned back and started carefully clicking my own shutter release button, but recovery was hopeless. As I began packing my gear back up I kept over-hearing the couple. Hearing them say things like, “Wow, what a shot. Huh?!”, “the camera does nearly everything these days”, and “you should really Instagram that!”. They chattered away, naively bantering without the slightest clue that they had just been standing next to and rudely interrupted the work of a real photographer.
It was then that I realized something. Then that I understood the century long struggle that all photographers before me faced and those after me will face. That is that, ever since cameras were invented photographers have slowly had their art form stolen from them. You see, back in the day you needed a well-trained and skilled photographer to take pictures. However once cameras were invented more and more people just began taking pictures as if it were a hobby or something. This tragic behavior has only been exaggerated by today’s camera technology being so user friendly that nearly any monkey with money can go purchase the same high end gear that I use – allowing them to even take the same high quality pictures I take! Maybe I’m just a purist, but I honestly feel like once cameras were invented a decline began in the relevance and importance of true photographers.
~ Harrison Stixs ~
Boston Retiree & Photography Professional