What Is Your Unpopular Photography Opinion? Here Are 29 From Industry Pros

What Is Your Unpopular Photography Opinion? Here Are 29 From Industry Pros

I asked people in the industry what their unpopular photograph opinions are, and I got a lot of interesting answers. And some controversial ones.

First thing's first, what is an "unpopular" photography opinion? All I mean by this is I want you to share an opinion you have on something related to photography, videography, or the industry that you think if expressed publicly, wouldn't go down well. That is, a lot of people would disagree with you. By the very nature of the question, you need to be prepared for backlash. In fact, ironically, the more people who tell you "you're wrong", the more successful you've been at the task. So make sure after you've read 29 from people who are currently working in the industry, leave some of your own in the comments, and prepare to defend them. Similarly, if you think any of the 29 are patently incorrect, let us know why they are.

Numbered below — so you can call them out specifically in the comments —  are what some fellow industry professionals told me. I have kept them anonymous, which was my call. Most (if not all) of the people who answered were comfortable with having their name put to their opinion, but I don't want that to muddy the waters of discussion. It would just incite ad hominem attacks when I really want people to engage with the statement and disprove or support it. Those people who contributed are welcome to claim their opinion in the comments.

Unpopular Opinions From Current Industry Professionals

  1. 99% of photography schools and degrees are a rip off.
  2. Medium format cameras are completely over-hyped. You’ll almost always produce better quality images with full frame with the right lenses.
  3. Shooting film in the digital age is photographic masturbation. It may be self-gratifying, but it doesn’t do anything for anyone else.
  4. Those artist signatures people pay for are overpriced squiggles and they all look the same. Use a pen, make a nice signature, and scan it. If you scribble like an infant then that's just the mark you get to make on the world.
  5. Most photographers call it "fashion" when the subject is wearing clothes. Any clothes.
  6. Doing well on social media doesn't mean you're a good photographer.
  7. 99% of what people call "fine art photography" has absolutely nothing to do with fine art.
  8. The vast majority of photographers have a massively overblown sense of self importance. You are a monkey pushing a button on an expensive box, not the reincarnation of Jesus.
  9. Just because it's bright and shot at f/1.4 doesn't make it a good picture.
  10. If you want to be an environmental landscape photographer you ought to use your bicycle more than the plane or car.
  11. Hair and make-up is not something to cheap out on.
  12. Photojournalism isn't the greatest form of photography known to mankind and doesn't deserve to win the majority of prestigious photography awards.
  13. Death to VSCO! Orange skin and gray greens. I am so sick of it.
  14. A photographer's obsession with gear is inversely proportional to the quality of their photography.
  15. If you have "photo", "photographer", or "photography" in your social media handle or in your domain then I instantly think you're less of a photographer or lack the imagination to come up with a better name. 
  16. Photoshop is the most valuable talent of a modern photographer.
  17. If you can't create consistently high quality work, you're not a good photographer.
  18. Photographers obsess over corner performance and micro-contrast on lenses, shot on 36mp+ bodies, only to upload a heavily compressed 1080p image to Instagram.
  19. A pro photographer is about making money. Being a "pro" is not directly related to talent, but to business and commercial skills.
  20. Gear matters. Yes, I could cross the country with a Ford T, but I prefer to do it in a BMW.
  21. Claiming to be a natural light only photographer is almost always just a cover for being unwilling or unable to work with artificial light.
  22. Canon sensor tech is outdated (other manufacturers buy Sony sensors, not Canon).
  23.  Shooting IG "influencers" who have a ton of followers for exposure is a waste of time because their audience couldn't care less about the photographer and is never your target market.
  24. Colors from Sony cameras are horrible.
  25. Work should only be judged on the quality of the final image. The process is a means to an end but using an artificially difficult process to produce a sub-par image doesn't make you better.
  26. Leica is a status brand for rich hipsters.
  27. The best camera isn't the one with you, it's your best camera, so make sure that's the one with you.
  28. Not using post-processing such as Photoshop is not a high ground. It is a choice to sacrifice your quality because you are lazy.
  29. Photography Kickstarters are a quick way to waste money.

What Are Yours?

In all honesty, it was difficult at times not to openly disagree with the person telling me theirs. For me, in that 29 there were an even spread of opinions I agreed with, was on the fence about, and vehemently disagreed with. My stand-out favorite (and it wasn't mine) was without question number 5: "Most photographers call it "fashion" when the subject is wearing clothes. Any clothes." 500px was the original source of my hatred for this irritating misnomer, where images that were closer to glamour would populate the highest rated fashion image category. At first I thought I was being petty, but now whether I am or not, I'm comfortable in my disdain for it.

In a similar vein, it's difficult not to agree with the opinion on fine art photography from number 7. Then again — and this might be unpopular opinion number 30 for this article — I can't imagine having the level of arrogance to call your own work "fine art" unless you have some serious evidence to call upon. There are too many grainy, heavy on the contrast, black and white images of indistinguishable subjects by self-anointed artists of allegedly highly intellectual, creative content.

So let's have it, what are your unpopular opinions on photography and photographers?

Lead image courtesy of Snapwire.

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211 Comments

Landscape photography has become the most predictable and boring genre of them all. It's all over-saturated, hyper-refined and it all looks like the cover of a bad fantacy novel.

After I started noticing it, I started to see how every instagram landscape photo is virtually identical. The only variations seem to be if they have a generic looking, fit, moderately good looking person in the frame in a vaguely epic pose looking away and completely anonymous or not.

True landscape photography will not include people.

Pascal Photographos's picture

You're right, Jenn. After all, people are not landscapes.

Michael Holst's picture

....Must....Not...Make...."Your mom" Joke!

Ravi Putcha's picture

Obviously, you haven't seen enough good photos.

marc gabor's picture

What a lazy generalization. Maybe you're just looking in the wrong places.

🤷🏼‍♂️

Alexander Yakimov's picture

I hope HDR-infatuation will pass. It is the most difficult genre to practice.

9 out of 10 of our best pictures have some large element of luck.

Michael Dougherty's picture

When I go on landscape photo trips, I try to plan to be lucky.

30) 99% of “people in the industry” who claim to have unpopular opinions are guilty of #8, because these aren’t unpopular opinions.

31) Like you should give a flying f**# what these people think anyway. You certainly won't get anywhere worrying about them.

David Pavlich's picture

I agree with a lot of the above, but some of the complaints sound more like sour grapes. I especially like, "Gear matters. Yes, I could cross the country with a Ford T, but I prefer to do it in a BMW." Good hardware makes what we do a little easier with some nice options. Nothing wrong with that!

The one I really disagree with is (no surprise), "A photographer's obsession with gear is inversely proportional to the quality of their photography."...says the guy using a 1DxII and 400mm f2.8. A pro isn't going to compromise on gear since it's his/her livelihood. This is the guy that writes articles about not needing good gear to take good pictures, my major 'article pet peeve'.

I often think of this obsession as coming from photographers who don't have the pro gear. Those of us who have the pro gear don't obsess about them. We don't have to. We have them. We just use them as we need to. I couldn't imagine doing what I do with consumer gear, and it wouldn't be fair to my clients.

I've crossed the country in a 20+ year old Jeep. Took great mountain pictures in places with no BMWs go (just Jeeps , 4 wheelers and dirt bikes)

David Pavlich's picture

And I went to an autocross event and took some great pictures where there were no dirt bikes and covered with mud 4 wheelers.

tee vee dee's picture

Obviously there is a contradiction in those two opinions. Applying the 'Inverse Proportion' opinion to the 'Gear Matters' opinion, we get the conclusion "My photographs are lousy because I choose to shoot Canon".

David Pavlich's picture

True that, except I'd substitute 'Sony' for 'Canon'. ;-)

tee vee dee's picture

The brand is irrelevant. I only chose Canon because that's what the article's author shoots. The contradiction is in the sentiment, which implies that better brands matter yet obsessing about brands generates inferior photography.

Not really.
I've seen a lot of people who can debate about levels of chromatic aberration in different lenses or AF tracking abilities of different cameras for hours, and then shoot a cat and a flower with central framing, and maybe a HDR sunset.
Pros who owns expensive gear probably will just use it instead of talk about it.

The public switched to digital 10 years ago. Photographers are still trying to sell them paper prints.

Because paper prints will still be around in 50 -100 years. Digital images saved on the "cloud" , flash drives and CD or DVDs, who knows? I say this as I am going through boxes of prints from my family taken the early 1900s.

Pascal Photographos's picture

A true man of multitasks. Kudos to you, dear sir. And you are right about the lifespan of digital media. I already see burden CD's from 10-20 years ago being unreadable. Hell, none of my current setups include a CD player and I have to revert to my old PowerMac G5.

Benton Lam's picture

Most consumer grade CD-R with a photosensitive layer will degrade over time.

The CD-ROMs are actually pressed. The bits are actually in the plastic, and far less likely to degrade over time.

Hal you must be a photographer but not an artist? Artists sell prints.

Terry, so do professional photographers. But can't I be both? :-)

Hi Ron, your question raises a very good point. How to tell one from the other without a clear definition? I think the technical photographer & the artist have been blended into one space inappropriately from the beginning.

How do I tell the difference between a photographer & an artist?

I’m sure you can be both but how do you describe being both?

I’m a photographer & a fine art photographer? We need a new definition for the photographic artist. ( Of course I’m only giving an opinion and very willing to listen to other thoughts :)

Carlos Teixeira's picture

Art Photography is not done by photographers, but by artists. Photography is not Art.

bill bynum's picture

you couldn't be more wrong. wtf

Carlos Teixeira's picture

Supposed to be unpopular, right?

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