The Rise of the Amateur

Ashim D’Silva

Oh no, it’s another article starting with an iPhone 5S reference!

The iPhone 5S camera is finally doing what camera geeks have been yelling about over the last few years: improving the sensor and image signal processor without fussing about the final megapixel output. Because chances are, you’re not going to need to print your photos 20ft tall, but you’ll be happy with clearer images and nicer colours.

tumblr_ms9n0ted0Z1st5lhmo1_1280Amidst introducing all the awesomeness, Phil Schiller said this: “It simply makes more sense to teach iPhone how to take a great picture rather than teach people how to be expert photographers.

This has annoyed photogs who think their value comes from technical knowledge, who scoff at us simpletons using anything but manual mode and adjusting white balance in post. Professional photogs are fussy because they don’t want amateurs flooding the industry with mediocre work that gives the impression that things can be done for cheap. It happened in web design with themes, in culinary arts with recipes, in music with loops and garage band, in mobile computing with Android… people’s impression of quality and value was altered because there seemed to be so little different between the mediocre and the exceptional through the eyes of a lay person.

But that can change. The dicussion can grow, and the lay person can, and wants to, increase his knowledge. Everybody wants to know a little bit more about the technology they’re using. They want to know where their money is going and to be able to use the tools they have, to their fullest potential.

And this is inspiring.

Because although the first step is people under the impression that anyone can photograph, or design, or cook… the more you learn the more you appreciate the difference in quality. And people will start asking harder questions of the ‘experts’ and experts will need to stand up and deliver. It has become increasingly difficult to hide behind waves of buzzwords and blind people with jargon; because people know better.

I wrote Buzzword Bingo for just that reason. We want clients involved deeply in the creation process. It’s your website; the more you know how it works the more you’ll appreciate the value, you’ll sweat the details, you’ll want it to be better, and your web designer will have to work harder. Your photographer will take better pictures and impress you with more than a clear image with a shallow depth of field. Your restaurant will make better food, and know you care about nutrition and flavour, texture and presentation, not just spicier biryani and sweeter jalebis.

You can ask more of your expert, if you know enough to be discerning about the difference. Stop saying you’re a technophobe and learn.

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