Is photography an elitist activity? Upper middle class? Does it need to be done with the best cameras and the best lenses?
In a recent post to a popular Facebook photography group asked a question about whether or not economic status should be considered in the giving of grants and awards in photography? The question was – “Should financial need be a factor for determining who is eligible for receiving photography (or art in general) grants?”
A comment was made where the person commenting stated that photography was an upper middle class activity.
Quote -“Photography is at least an upper middle class pursuit. You’d be hard pressed to find photographers who are poor because the tools of production and recreation are expensive! It’s like finding a poor car collector.”
I was shocked that any photographer would say such a thing.
During the time of film photography, especially with 35mm, the camera was a tool that could be used by anyone who could afford a simple camera and a roll of film. The smart-phone has given many a photographic tool that is with them every moment.
To say that photography is at least an upper middle class pursuit implies that everyone must achieve a certain degree of financial stature in order to be a viable member of the photographic community. It also seems to suggest that by not having sophisticated and costly equipment – one is not eligible to be called a photographer.
That is simply not true. It is elitist to even suggest.
The act of photography basically requires a good eye and an open mind. The art of photography does not need sophisticated and costly equipment. Many great image-makers have chosen to use pinhole cameras or select to make their images with simple, extremely basic, and/or primitive cameras. Many of them choose to do so in order to utilize the unique qualities of such equipment to emphasize the nature of their work. For many, it becomes a choice for compositional purpose, which is meant to accentuate the overall quality and underscore the intended meaning.
Owning any or all the cameras, lenses and lighting equipment in the world does not make you a skillful or artistic creator. Vision is the key to being an artist. Imagination and innovation also helps. Simply owning a camera does not make anyone a photographer.
It is not the camera that makes the image, Rather, it is the creative vision, and the artful skill of the user.
Photography is about seeing. Not about equipment.
Sometimes simplicity is what is needed.
Being in the ranks of the upper middle class has no bearing on ones ability to be a creative photographer. In fact, limitation is most often the motivating force that makes for great photographers and great imagery.
Photography is not for the elitist. It is a democratic tool that should be open to anyone who has something to see and something to show. As such, the art of photography is classless.
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