Copyright PADI 2012
This past weekend I was on a dive boat and overheard someone commenting that in the film era, you had to be a skilled photographer, but today with digital, "anyone can take great photos."
Really? Then why don't they?
There's no denying that digital imaging puts new, better tools in the hands of photographers. The potential for the average person to take superior images is greater than ever, to be sure. It's reasonable to speculate that today shooters produce far more high quality finished images than in the film era.
But, it appears that the proportion of professional-quality finished images is declining. Digital imaging has indeed made it easier to take photos, and to take them in mass, but more doesn't mean better. You only need to click through Facebook and Flickr to see that the overall quality of the average snap (in terms of lighting, composition, retouching and creativity) is no better than in the film era. In fact, you could argue that the ability to bang off 200 images without having to reload the camera or pay for the processing has lowered, not raised, the average image quality.
Even in the digital age, good photos require dedicated effort: planning, lighting, vision, skilled execution and post-processing. As well, the expectation of a professional image is higher than in the film era, thanks to the affordability and accessibility of retouching technologies.
Digital imaging has made imaging more abundant, but it has not turned everyone into good photographers.