5 Reasons Why Photography Is Bad for You

No, this is not a tongue-in-cheek article. Well, not completely.

As a photographer, you obviously see yourself as creating something valuable that the world will want to share.

You may also firmly believe that what you’re doing with your camera – and what you’re dreaming about day and night – will make you a better person as a human being.

But, first and foremost you have an urge to create. You were born to make pictures of the world.

Photography is freakin’ awesome.

Well, no it’s not, and here’s why.

1. Photography Lies

5 reasons photography is bad for you

Your photograph is a lie, and the better you are as a photographer the bigger the lies your photos tell.

Let’s say you’re photographing a house. It might be your house or it might be somebody else’s residence that you’re shooting for a real estate company, for instance.

What you’re going to do first, before you even take out your camera, is to walk around the property and look for the most flattering angles and viewpoints.

You’re already lying.

Why not use the worst angles and photograph from them?

After all, the prospective buyer, or your friends on Facebook, will now get an impression that your house is better than it is in reality.

Secondly, you’re going to use the best possible lighting to present your interiors or exteriors as well as possible.

That’s also lying.

Most of the time, people living in or visiting a house don’t enjoy optimal lighting.

True, their eyes do adapt to any given light better than the camera sensor but still, they don’t see everything as clearly as it is depicted in the photo.

They certainly don’t view the world through the kind of ultra wide lens that you make your architectural shots with.

Finally, you’re lying when you put your photos through a rigorous post-processing routine.

That’s not how blue the sky was.

All those smudges on that stainless steel fridge door? No more there because you wiped them clean with a Clone Stamp tool on Photoshop.

You’re lying with your photography, and lying is wrong.

2. Photography Is Unfair

5 reasons photography is bad for you

Learning a new skill takes time. Grasping the theory behind practice takes even longer.

In photography, it’s not enough to know your camera, lenses, flashes, reflectors and other photography equipment like the back of your hands.

You also need talent.

Not everyone is talented. I can’t keep a tune when singing. I’d sure like to sing like Elvis but I just can’t.

I haven’t taken courses in singing but I’m pretty sure I could never reach the effortless singing proficiency of the King.

You know what it sounds like when someone’s clearing their throat? That’s me trying to find the right pitch for the song.

But I do have some idea what a photographic composition should look like.

I can also see which photos have that certain something that sets them apart from other photos – and which don’t.

I don’t know how I know. I just do.

And that’s wrong.

Everybody should have the same ability to create and recognise the lines, shapes, forms, light values, colours, textures, movements, size differences and empty spaces that make or break a composition.

It’s also wrong that I can’t sing.

3. Photography Is Expensive

5 reasons photography is bad for you

This one’s obvious.

Not because we all know how much photography gear costs.

It’s an obvious addition to this list because of the effects the monetary side of photography has on our lives.

There are many hobbyist photographers, mostly men, suffering from GAS, gear acquisition syndrome. They must have the latest cameras and lenses.

They lose sleep thinking about the pros and cons of swithcing from Canon to Sony.

Or Nikon to Panasonic.

I can only imagine the strain the continuous money flow and the talk of jumping camera manufacturers puts on their marriage.

Most women value security above all else, and what these men are doing is sending all the wrong signals to their wives.

So, photography is bad for you because it’s expensive, but not in an economic sense.

Anyone with a decent job can afford a modern camera with a few lenses.

Photography is expensive because of the toll it takes on your mind and the anxiety it causes for your spouse.

4. Photography Isolates You from Life

5 reasons photography is bad for you

Are you one of those people who goes out with their friends and then spends all their time staring at the back of their camera?

You see these people out and about from time to time.

It might not be so bad if it’s a couple and both are into photography.

I once saw a young, beautiful duo having dinner in a restaurant. When the dishes were served, it took them forever to even taste their food.

Both of them were organising the food on their plates with minute detail. They were experimenting with various shooting angles.

At one point, I saw the man hold his phone to the side of the woman’s plate to illuminate a darker area on her food while she was taking the photo.

Much more tragic than the example of a couple with a shared hobby is the case of a lone photographer in a group of mates.

He is completely absorbed in creating photos while the people around him are trying to have a conversation.

He doesn’t hear anything.

He doesn’t see anything.

He’s not just ignoring his friends, he makes them self-conscious by aiming his telephoto lens on their faces from across the table.

With a photographer friend around, no-one is having fun.

Besides isolating you from your friends, photography can separate you from genuine artistic experiences.

This latter phenomenon is becoming alarmingly wide-spread.

You only need to look at photos or view video from any rock concert.

People are not interacting with their idols. They are watching the screens of their phones, busy recording film clips.

The same thing happens in museums around the world.

The art lovers are absorbing the artworks vicariously, via their cameras.

The result of all this obsession with documenting the world is that nobody is enjoying it anymore.

And it’s all because of photography.

5. Photography Makes You Blind

5 reasons photography is bad for you

Selectively blind, that is.

While we’re gaping at pictures of our favourite celebritities on TV or laughing at a list of the most awkward wedding photos in existence, we may never learn what the world is really like.

And I’m not talking about the wars, famines or the climate change.

I’m talking about the stuff that they don’t show you on TV.

Random men and women giving their lunches to homeless people and deciding to go without food a few more hours.

A parking official not fining a young person for parking illegally because it’s his or her first offence and they’re clearly not doing well financially.

A man who donates bone marrow to a stranger and saves a life.

You know, the really important stuff.

Stuff that makes our world a little better.

The news photography doesn’t always reflect the real world. Just a small, selected part of it.

The ugly bits, and the boring bits.

There’s so much more to life than the pictures they’re showing you on TV.

That’s why photography is bad for you.

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So, there you have it: five reasons why photogarphy is bad for you.

You might not agree with all of the points in this article, and you don’t have to.

The point is that, just like almost anything in this world, photography is not black and white. Well, not anymore.

And I also thought that we sometimes take our photo making way too seriously.

Why not loosen up a little and forget about thte f-stops for a while?

Go out there and don’t take photos.

The world will still be there for you to shoot when you pick up your camera again.


All photographs copyright (c) Markus Jaaskelainen 2018.

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