A couple of weeks ago, a new thread was started on one of the forums I frequent.
The question was asked if all the up-to-date technology with it’s abundance of automation is a good thing or a bad thing for the development of human skills and creative talent.
The forum, being a photographic one, soon brought the discussion into the realm of photography with it’s technologically super-endowed equipment and software. The discussion very quickly developed into a free-for-all with all the usual suspects. The GOMs (grumpy old men) v the Techies (“pro- technical progress” and IT folk). Nothing new here with all the old ‘discussions’ being rehashed. The GOMs predictably lamenting the loss of human skills and talents while the Techies vociferously defending the ‘march of progress’.
The discussion again quickly deteriorated into personalities and the thing that ‘shocked and surprised’ me was the vehemence with which the GOMs were attacked by certain of the Techies. Another thing that surprised me was that the strongest attacks came from Techies who had had a solid grounding in the basics of traditional photography, as well as being extremely capable IT people.
The GOMs were accused of being supercilious, presumptuous, elitist snobs and by what right were they telling the young new- comers to photography that they had no place in the photo world because of their apparent lack of the ‘basics’. The GOMs, of course, had said nothing of the sort. What they did say was that the seriously interested new-comers needed to understand the basics and develop from there and not rely on automation to rule their photography without knowing why the camera was doing what it was doing and then hoping that PhotoShop would fix/save the bad photographs. Total reliance on technology both in the camera and then the computer. No personal skill or talent required.
I was accused of telling an extremely talented photographer – who, by the way, I’ve been the biggest fan of since I saw my very first photograph of hers and everybody, including my accuser, knew that – that she had no right being in photo because she didn’t have the basics. Well firstly, I never mentioned her and she wasn’t in my mind during the discussion, so I can only presume that was a deliberate slur. Secondly, she does have the basics! She may be relatively new to photography, but she has Art School and painting in her history, two brothers in photography, an enormous amount of support from the minute she joined the forum – she joined to learn and she soaks up everything she can!!! – and finally, most importantly, she has a tremendous natural creative talent. She has “the eye”. The blatant glib and malicious deliberate misreading, misquoting, misinterpreting manipulation and twisting of the GOM’s words by the Techies was vicious in it’s slander.
Then it dawned on me, the realization that it is those ‘photography-educated’ Techies who are the smug, supercilious, presumptuous, arrogant, elitist snobs. They have the best of both worlds. The basic traditional grounding in photography as well as the IT skills to use the technology as it should be, a tool and nothing more. They are prepared to let the new-comer struggle along in the technological world without them learning the basics and eventually floundering.
Why they have this attitude, I can’t say……..is it a fear of being considered a GOM? is it fear of competition? is it a justification of their own existence? is it a cover up for their mediocre photographic talents? is it really elitist snobbism?……..I don’t know, but I do know that the GOMs are demeaned and insulted because they dare to say, “Know what you’re doing. exercise your brain and don’t let it vegetate. Develop your own creative skills, not the camera’s or the computer’s”.