Nikon in South Carolina

Photographer’s Journey ran a piece addressing a Nikon ad campaign which claims that anyone could take a great picture with the new D40. To that end, Nikon delivered a bunch of D40s to the residents of a small town in South Carolina, and let them play with the new cameras for a while to see what they’d come up with.

What appalls me is the arrogance of the piece. There’s an implication from one line in the piece that if you didn’t learn and practice using film and a darkroom before moving to digital, you just somehow can’t become a real photographer (my interpretation). What a pretentious view! If that’s the case, in about 30-40 years, there will be no real photographers, as there won’t have been film and darkrooms with which they could hone their craft before moving to digital.

What was also interesting was the the author’s contention that the photos these novices shot were no better than point-and-shoot images shot at a family function. These folks (may) have no training, no fancy lighting or lenses, and went out into their lives and bared it all for the world to see. That’s cool and transcends the criticisms of this article. Nikon’s approach is art in and of itself, but even beyond that, the images are good. Sure, there’s some that are better than others, but even no pro hits a home run with every photo. If that was the case, they wouldn’t be buying larger storage cards for their cameras, and cameras with faster and faster shutter frame rates, and would rely on catching a moment with only a single click of the shutter.

Is it fair to assume that putting a nice piece of gear in your hands is gonna make someone a great photographer? No — no more than putting a driver in a NASCAR ride is gonna make them a great driver. But what it will do is instantly give them an edge. Digital photography is the ultimate in instant gratification, self-taught learning, and a fast-track to learning photography if someone wants to learn. If they just wanna shoot photos of the kids, that’s cool too, and is no less important than the pro photographer who is shooting the latest thing — fashion, war, crime, party, wedding. They’re both telling a story with their images, and preserving a bit history. That’s the point after all; everything else is just so much fluff.