A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

DIY-photos in magazines: authentic or trite?

A weekly had asked its female readers to send in their best pictures of their husband (partner, or whatever politically-correct term you want). Many sent a picture of hubby in bed with a cat. Maybe those were the pictures that made these readers happiest. But if you then make it into a policy of your magazine to use only pictures made by its readers instead of professionally-made photos, will you get ‘authentic’ content or just trite DIY-pictures?

This discussion I read about in my newspaper got going because a magazine for young parents wants to use only illustrations it gets from its readers. The main argument from the magazine’s editor is that in this way the pictures will be more authentic and ‘de-glamourised’. I can agree with their point, and also with the other point they made, namely that small children are so spontaneous and that parents can capture those moments better in natural situations at home than professional photographers who always intrude into the natural situation.

An old example from my own experience (scanned from an analogous photo): a pro would not have got that relaxed-curious attitude from my daughter.

A professional photographer made the counterargument of triteness, using the anecdote of the hubby & cat pictures. Amateur photographers simply lack the imagination and the vision that a professional photographer brings to the scene.

Looking at (too many of!) my own pictures, I must agree with the counterargument, too: my pictures may be too conventional, not surprising enough. Or just made too lazily, as when I do not want to take the trouble of getting down on my knees to get a better perspective, or when I do not want to set up a tripod to get better sharpness.

And I also agree that getting the imagination and vision is largely a matter of training. But I don’t agree that only professionally-schooled photographers have that training. A lot of advanced amateur photographers have that too. Sometimes my own pictures are not too bad, and I see others’ which are much better, also among my internet friends—no professional would be ashamed of them!

Finally, there is more to photographic vision than training; maybe there is such a thing as talent. I’m thinking, for instance, of my own daughter, who without any training sometimes went out with her simple compact camera and then shot really good pictures. But she too has her share of conventional, boring pictures—a bit more training or experience would help! She has her own DSLR now… Still, here comes a little example of what she made from an inspired day in a museum.

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