Do you believe professional portrait photography will ever become obsolete?
With the supply of prosumer cameras in the market increasing rapidly do you believe that the art of photography is becoming less of a mystery to the general public, and do you think this in turn will affect industry professionals in a negative way?
Even with the best equipment, people who do not regularly practice photography or are learned in its techniques will often be a "hit or miss" experience. It takes someone with knowledge and experience to make the photos not only be technically sound but at the same time adding the proper elements to make the photos stand out. So no I don't think that the industry will be affected.
If you take the time to learn the skills, nothing will remain a mystery. But the general public will not likely to have the time and patience to learn and master the skills both in camera and post processing. It's like when a person is sick, you can get over-the-counter medicine, but a trained doctor cannot be substituted for professional diagnosis and treatment.
I appreciate your answers. I would like to add a point that your feedback on would be greatly appreciated on.
Even though I agree there will never be a comparison to work produced by a professional aposed to that of an amateur, would you consider that when it comes to consumer understanding of this fact the lines are become more and more blurred?
Would you agree that because highly functional DSLR's are now so readily available to the public, when faced with a decision to hire a professional OR purchase their own DSLR there's now an increased chance that they'll chose that latter due to the belief that they can now create a professional level of imagery?
I bet most of the people you know can read and write. A fraction of them can do it quite well. A percentage of those really enjoys it. However, are that small portion willing to write their own books just to save a few bucks on amazon? I think not.
With the digital revolution of DSLR, you can pay a reasonable amount and have access to professional grade cameras.
With time, you will be able to take good pictures and some of them will be incredible. That will occur by accident most of the time. Even so, you will never be as good as a professional who devoted his entire mind, heart and soul to that one act that is making photography an art form.
Just my 2c.
No, it will not. A professional portrait photographer has deep experience in posing, for starts, and knows how to make someone look natural while enhancing their natural assets. Professionals also know some of the more important aspects of lighting that are not well understood by amateurs.
For example, someone with a very wide face (relatively speaking) should be lit with the key light a little bit further to one side to de-emphasize the width of the face, and enhance the natural contour. Someone with a more narrow face should be lit with the key light placed closer to the camera so that the face appears a little more full.
Someone with dark hair shot against a darker background benefits from a hair light or rimlight to create separation between the hair and the background, while someone who is bald should not be shot with a hairlight, because their scalp will reflect the hairlight creating a hot spot. Now if you shoot a couple and the woman has dark hair, but the man is bald, you need to feather the hairlight to allow for separation between the background and her hair, while restricting the light so that no hot spot is created on top of the man's head.
Also, if you shoot two people who have very different complexions, the one with the lighter complexion needs to be on the side away from the key light, in order to balance somewhat the lighting for the two people, and you may need to use a barndoor to feather the light to capture a more natural looking balance in the final image.
And there is a lot more that a professional would know that will enhance the portrait image, including film to subject distance as it relates to perspective, how to create specular highlights in the eyes, what fill ratios to use, how to light the background appropriately, how to create high key images, in-camera vignettes, and the list goes on. No prosumer camera even scratches the surface of these issues, and that list is nowhere near exhaustive.
On top of all of that, the professional has the instinct and reactions necessary to capture great expressions, and stays on top of the current imaging styles and trends.
Having said all of that, you can take great portraits with a good camera with a little knowledge and some practice.
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