Consumer technology is all about taking the skills people learn over decades — the things only masters could do — and making those skills available to the general public at as low a cost as possible, and without all the messy years and years of training, trial and error.
I figured this out a long time ago… but I thought I’d bring it up because it turns out either my three-year old son or my seven-year old son could be the best photographer in the family — at least they were on this day.
The four of us went out on a ‘family time photo assignment’ last week, looking for shots of colour and family, and everyone came back with shots they’re proud of… at least the boys will be proud of theirs once they’re old enough to figure it out.
My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic, one of those consumer inventions that took all the hard parts out of a skill, and left us with just the easy bits to play with. The main difference between the camera I was using when I was twelve, and the Pentax Optio E10 my three-year old was using last Wednesday, or the Optio E90 my seven-year old had, is we can do the printing at home.
Other than that, consumer photography — amateur photography — is almost entirely about composition, it’s about what you’re aiming at, and what’s in the frame, not necessarily the techniques, because the techniques are now preset into the cameras (whereas the Instamatic took all of the technique out of photography by only offering three settings: flash, no flash and a wide angle lens).
Again, none of this is new, I’ve known this for a long time. When I was a kid, some of the photos I took with the Instamatic were of staged scenes I made to look like construction sites taken from airplanes, and I fooled a lot of people with them.
All I’m saying is… there’s not much difference between someone who takes photos semi-professionally, and a three- or seven-year old with a digital camera.
…which, if you have an ego, kind of sucks. But there’s also pride. There’s a certain amount of that as well. I guess.