I've heard it time and time again. "The smartphone is going to kill photography. Everyone has a camera now. Photos are uploaded by the thousands. Anyone can have a camera now, so photography is no longer an art form. Oh, there are all these people with their smart phones, thinking they can be an artist because they have a camera."
Let me be frank: that's elitist bullshit.
There is a difference between capturing a moment and capturing art.
Here's a photo I took about two months ago.
It's utter crap, right? Who in their right mind would call this art? The picture was taken by a potato, the background is way too cluttered to even begin to dissect, and the subject matter is not in a proper position.
I have shared this photo too. Not on here--until this moment--because it's definitely not art. I shared it on my personal facebook page, because my rabbit fell asleep in my arms. This was a moment.
Here's another photo I've taken:
I'm not going to talk about why this is good, due to not wanting to toot my own horn--you are welcome to of course--but I can talk about why this is art. Camera quality doesn't mean too much, in my opinion, but there's a huge difference between the bunny picture and this bee picture in physical quality. You can discern the subject without trouble.
The other part that is different is the inferred intentions. I'm clearly not taking this photo to say: OMG I SAW A BEE GUYZ. I may not have gone out looking for this exact picture, but I found the bee flying in front of my camera--I was taking pictures of the flowers until I spotted the bee--and began taking pictures of it. I followed it until I was uncomfortable by the amount of bees around me, and I left.
Some photographers go even further. Instead of going out and finding their artistic moment, they make it. I'm not a 'make it' photographer, as I rarely work with still life or people, so I've outsourced the photo to feature another artist:
The model was picked. The outfit was picked. The location was very carefully picked. The time of day was clearly picked. The photographer may well have guided the model into this position, or decided this position was even worth seeing.
This is a deliberate work of art.
Yes, there are some people out there who are going to take their smartphone, their point-and-click, take a picture, and declare themselves an artist. But here's the thing: that's how an artist is born. I know I SUUUCKED as an artist at first. I couldn't tell when a picture was in-focus, or if I had shaken the camera too much during the shot. I had no idea how the camera worked, and how to make it work. As I practiced, I noticed things. Photos I liked more. If things were in focus. How to post-process. That's when I became an artist by everyone else's standards; not just mine. But everyone has to have a starting point, and we shouldn't declare those people are ruining art, because we were those people.
Sure, not everyone will get to the point of aspiring artist. They'll never get past accidentally putting their thumb over the lens. They'll spend their life taking pictures of their pets doing cute stuff, or taking pictures of events. These people are not a threat to us. They're sharing moments. They're not making art.