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10 - Harder & Harder

Edward Steichen wrote:

Photography is a medium of formidable contradictions. It is ridiculously easy and almost impossibly difficult.1

Photography is not easy.

We expect it to be easy, however.


Kodak said it was back in the 1800s:

Just press the button – we do the rest.

The camera ads today describe how easy digital technology has made photography.

Yes and no.

A top-of-the-film camera had a forty-some page instruction manual with lots of white space.

Digital camera instruction manuals are much longer and denser.



Anyone can take a photograph, even a gorilla.

The start-up costs, or entry costs, of photography, are low. Just buy a camera off the peg hook at the supermarket checkout line, and press the shutter release.

The photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia wrote:

Photography is the foreign language that everyone thinks they can speak.

As you explore photography, you're continually becoming aware of more to learn.

For example, proficient photographers often become dissatisfied with the prints they're getting from labs.

The quality is poor, or the cost of well-done prints is high.

They buy a printer.

Then, the color is off.

They have to learn about color management, and have to spend more money on software and equipment.

They become disheartened, but only for a moment.

Then, they get going.

Photography is like learning any foreign language.

Fluency requires a lot of effort.

Boredom, for anyone not an adolescent, is when there isn't a new challenge out there.


1 "... and almost impossibly difficult. It is difficult because, while the artist working with any other medium begins with a blank surface and gradually brings his conception into being, the photographer is the only image-maker who begins with the picture completed. His emotions, his knowledge, and the native talent are brought into focus and fixed beyond recall the moment the shutter of his camera has closed."