When did the nerds take over photography?

November 8, 2023

When did the nerds take over photography? I’m at risk of showing my age and sounding like a grumpy old bloke in this post but here goes.

When I first got into photography at college in the very late 90s photography was a way for a teenager to feel cool. Let’s be clear I’m not saying that I was cool, quite the opposite, but I definitely thought that photography was cool and so did everyone else that was into it back then.

The images that we were exposed to were cool fashion images in magazines like The Face and ID. We were also exposed to rock n roll images from the 60s and inspiring art photography. As my classmates and I sat in our college canteen dressed in thrift store clothing carrying our hardy silver and black cameras we felt cool. We were sometimes derided by the nerds studying more academic subjects. The guys in their standard issue clothing studying real subjects destined to get ‘proper jobs’.

As it turns out the nerds have won. It’s almost  impossible to tell people that I’m a photographer without someone nerding out about cameras. First they start with some weird tribal comparison about whether Nikon is better than Canon (I don’t use either), then they want to talk about megapixels or the lenses in their camera collection.

I still see the creativity in photography. Creativity isn’t always possible when shooting for a fee because some clients want safe, standard issue photographs but sometimes it is possible to produce creative or interesting commercial photography

I look around and see so many wonderful photographs, some taken with fancy cameras with fancy lenses and some taken with the cameras on their phones. That’s what I want to geek out about, the incredible images that have been taken, rather than the equipment used to take it.

However, I do have to grin and bear it because when your job is someone else’s hobby it would be unfair of me to avoid those discussions. If it did bother me then maybe I should have got a proper job.

The final thing that I will say is that I think it’s totally cool to nerd out about photography. Some of my best friends are camera nerds. And the nerds on YouTube are a welcome addition to my viewing when (and only when) I need to upgrade my kit. But getting better pictures isn’t just about the equipment. Of course it helps, it definitely helps but because of the speed of change with the technology if you get too nerdy, you’ll spend all your time geeking out instead of perfecting your craft.

Written by Paul Tschornow

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