All the Wrong Emphasis: Reuters' Best Images of Year Exif Data

All the Wrong Emphasis: Reuters' Best Images of Year Exif Data

This morning our pals at PopPhoto tweeted, "The most popular photography story this morning is the Exif of Reuters' best images of the year. Not the pictures. Doing it wrong." I have to agree with them here. Instead of focusing on the images, the story is instead focused on what they were shot with. Is that what we are reduced to? Oogling over gear?

Published originally on November 30, Reuters released 95 photos that they categorized as the best images of 2012. The images are of course amazing and deserve a look, but that's not where the emphasis is being put this morning. Instead, sites are focusing on the gear, the numbers, and the cameras. And I get it, gear is interesting and maybe this data is cool, but I strongly believe that the emphasis on what we are shooting with is overshadowing what we are shooting.

Philip Bloom recently urged his readers to stop being so gear-centric when he read the comments on his facebook in reply to a piece he recently completed. Bloom makes a great point:

"Please this is about a piece of work that I am sharing. Not about gear. Very disheartening.

When I say it's not about gear I mean this post and this film is something I want to share as its special to me.

I love gear. Don't get me wrong and I explain what I use all the time and in depth even in this post but the first two comments on here are utterly unrelated to my post I find it incredibly disheartening. Both felt like smacks in the mouth. The first one from a guy who just obsesses about which camera is best in low light and won't leave me alone and the second basically who cares about this post tell us about yet another new camera. Ouch.

Without a story what is the point of gear? If you are learning then seeing how different people tell stories and why they tell them and how they tell them is more important than knowing the gear side.

The gear side is easy to pick up. What takes time is the rest.

My site is split up 50/50 technical and creative. Both are incredibly important to me.

But what makes me happy? Is it gear or is it creating? Take a guess. If you think it's the former then I should go work at a camera dealer. All the cameras you want there!!"

Large photography sources making a big hubub over exif data overshadows the real reason we all shoot: the art, the passion and the subject. I agree with Bloom, I love gear. I love looking at new stuff and playing with lenses, bodies and software. But that's not why I do what I do. Stories that focus on the gear over the subject like this only perpetuate the "oh those are great pictures! You must have a nice camera" stigma none of us are fond of.

So if you care about the exif data and the lenses and the ISO and whatever, you can read the data. Me? I'm going to enjoy the images and applaud the photographers, not their expensive equipment.

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They write about what people are interested in. Everyone photography forum blabs about gear and most of those people are just horrible street photographers because they can't get organized enough to shoot anyone other than unsuspecting strangers and they family members but they WANT to feel like artists. I bet 99% of Leica shooters don't shoot more that 5 decent photos a month.

In the United States we have a lot of FAUXtographers. 

Simon wardenier's picture

That doesn't make any sense at all, you're just as narrow minded as the people who posted the data, it doesn't matter what you shoot with or what you shoot, as long as you love doing it. I shoot everything from environmental portraits to headshots and streetphotography with everything that captures photos, ranging from smartphones, film cameras to a DSLR. So stop pigeonholing photographers and get your head out of ... the ground.

in all fairness, if you discout family members and unsuspecting strangers - do you think that 99% of NIkon, Canon, Sony, or Pentax DSLR shooters make more than 5 decent photos a month? 

For those who don't seem to understand: Point is that it is sad that the MOST POPULAR news is about exif data and NOT the actual photos.

Nobody said it is bad to look at that data, or talking about gear. The problem is, when some exif statistics MAKE BIGGER HYPE than the actual BETS OF photos!!!

This means that more people are interested in what camera was they shot with, than people interested in THE ACTUAL PHOTOS. And that sucks big time.

Nailed it.

I'm rather perplexed about those who hate gear talkers. If they enjoy it - let them!

Yes I love looking at moving, emotive and inspirational imagery. But I also enjoy the equipment - seeing whats new, what others use, how to use mine better and so forth. It interests and fascinates me and gives me enjoyment. Quit giving the gear chit-chat people such a hard time for doing something they enjoy.

Note also the slight Hypocrisy - your article isn't about the images either - but about other topics i.e. hating the gear talkers.

That's the POINT of this article though.. so not really hypocrisy. 

So same could therefore be said about the one they're referencing i.e. it was a gear article.

 This is not hate on geartalk. Try to use your brain...

It may not be the entirety of the post but I did perceive undertones of that.

Albert Zablit's picture

Sometimes you want to talk about gear, sometimes you want to talk about the images. I don't see why we can't have both. That said, the infographic itself was bad (visually and informatively) so it didn't grab nor retain my attention.

I am honestly surprised that an iPhone photo or two didn't show up in the report.

How exactly is fstoppers /not/ equally biased towards talking about gear instead of the creative process?

What I'm saying is that there is a place for gear, and a place for the creative process. Imagine being the photographers featured here and instead of talking about the situation or political ramifications of the imagery, the discussion instead devolves into why someone's D4 is better than a 1Dx. It's just not the right place for that, and graphs and charts like this only perpetuate that discussion. 

I agree. Or, I'd love to agree. It appears that the forums and other online places (and even magazines) I peruse regularly can be put into three categories:
 - those focused on gear (both entry level and highend)
 - general-purpose forums where any discussion is either dead within two replies or it gravitates towards gear
 - a small handful of places for curators and other visual artists where discussions on the creative process are so intense I seriously need a dictionary to follow them.

I guess my point is that while it's equally easy to talk about gear on an entry or advanced level, the same doesn't hold true for the creative / visual art part. Most discussions are either so blunt it hurts ("learn all the rules, then break them!") or so incredibly advanced it's equally painful and difficult to follow without having gone through an entire bookshelf of required reading. Which in turn means that those stuck in the middle are left with little to talk about except for gear -- and we've come full circle...

If you want to take your point even further, you could go so far as to say that talking about "technique" is just as bad as talking about gear. What f stop / shutter speed? what filters? How do I duplicate star trails, HDR, split-tone, shallow DoF, etc?'s picture

Why isn't there room for both?  I first saw the article about the pictures specifically and as a new photographer was very interested to check them out.  I scrolled through admiring the work and even shedding a few tears over the images, but I was also interested in noting what gear was used.  It made me proud of my purchase decision for my camera and also gave me something to strive for and hopefully achieve using this equipment.

Strange, does Reuters allow to use brand other than Canon? Aren't they contracted to use only Canon?

Zach Sutton's picture

Canon owns 65+% of the dSLR these results are not too surprising

Just like many other passions in life, Photography has many aspects. The equipment is one of those aspects that appeals to a specific niche in the community. 

I have motor-head friends who are Formula 1 freaks and for them, the technical aspect of the F1 cars is as important to them as the winner (if not more in some cases).

I agree with the sentiment above, live and let live, leave the "geeks" alone.

Nowhere on that list!! OLYMPUS! :)

I started looking through the images and my heart wincing at most of them.  The last thing on my mind was what they used to capture these amazing, heart-wrenching stories caught on film.

I'm sure others have covered the photography. I think this is pretty interesting and it shows what professionals are using. Funny no one has commented on the fact that over 90% of these pro shots are shot with Canon pro or semi-pro cameras.

Gear only matters when your gear isn't up to the prevailing conditions.  All cameras will take great images under ideal conditions. Pro photographers, for the most part, surround themselves with the best equipment. That allows them to forget about the equipment and it's limitations and get on with the job at hand.

Reuters suppose to use only Canon, unless policy change lately, or some photographer prefer to use their own gear.

ArtSocket Gallery's picture

Photo gear collectors are not the same as photographers. A person could be both, but could be either one as well. The photographer is always there to make art, to touch people's hearts. He is there to transfer what he or she saw onto film and into an image, rather than to perform a technique. We all know that this is not all about the gear. OK, sometimes it is, but I still think that it must always be mostly about the subject, and the art. In my mind this is very similar with guitar players: everyone loves their guitars, even if it's a beat piece of crap from the 60's, but in the end, bands and performers are always praised for their music, and never for the gear they use. After all, anyone with money can afford any gear combo they wish. And the obsession over gear ends up just a race for more and more stuff. We're artists, not just consumers.

On the other hand, however, this argument is also rooted in the fan base. There are more photographers now than ever. And if that is who is the main audience, it is only fair to expect your followers to look up to you and try to replicate what you do. But even then, gear will not be as instrumental as your skill and vision to becoming the next great.

Let us stop for a second and put a little bit more trust into ourselves rather than our tools.

I think what bugs me most about this sort of thing isn't the gear comparison (although it is awfully misleading, the D800 and 5D mk III have the same color, from what I can tell, it is the D800 with the big % but the opposite is implied).

What really bugs me is how they label a list like this as the "best photos of 2012" then fail to select anything other than travel/journalism. I see lists like this all the time that are just that. Apparently all the landscape, fashion, portrait, wedding, event, commercial, product, baby, animal, and fine arts photographers out there just suck. If I were asked to craft a list of the best photos of 2012 I, personally, probably wouldn't have selected any of these images. 

Granted, I recognize the skills and devotion making images like this take and they do deserve recognition, I just find it irritating that the consensus is that often they are the ONLY ones that deserve it.

This was sourcing from the Reuters news agency "best photos" of 2012 article - so yes they will be journalistic images.

Ya, I just find it a recurring trend. And they never title it: "Best Photo Journalism of 2012". It is always "Best Photos of 2012" or "Best Photos of All Time", etc etc. Conversely when I see a list of say the best "landscape" work they always call it the "Best landscape photos of the year" or "Top 10 landscape photos of all time", etc. It is only photo journalism that uses headlines that imply they are the best discipline.