Is Snapseed making photography more difficult?

If you see photography as a technical challenge it’s getting easier. If you see photography as a creative challenge it’s getting more difficult.  I’ve been looking at Snapseed, 100 cameras, instragram and other photo enhancers and trying to work out what I think.  

We seem to be in the middle of a photography “big bang” with all sorts of tools becoming available to enhance and present  images.   I love looking at photos on flickr, not a day goes by without me browsing the latest uploads on my iPhone. It’s like a daily fix of inspiration.    There’s been a noticeable increase in the volume of colourful and moody landscapes, nostalgic portraits finished in classic processing styles, blurred and burned edges, vignette effects.  

Snapseed seems to be gaining ground as a tool for adding some of these qualities to photographs.  In the movie world Magic Bullet has been around for a while and I can’t help thinking that Snapseed’s functionality is rather similar.  In video, cross processing and designer looks are all important and many of these looks are being replicated in the stills world (or is it vice versa).

So what makes a good photograph?  I think these tools throw some responsibility on the viewer to discern the true value of a piece of work.   A viewer who is easily impressed my say wow at every photo; Just by adding  an effect we can get a wow factor.   I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these tools but as consumers of photography we should be careful to look beyond the effects and into the skill and meaning of the images.  Is the image well composed? Do the effects support of mask the intension of the photographer? Does the photograph tell a story?  Does it challenge our thinking in any way?

In way, by making it easier to get results it moves the challenge away from the technical aspects and more into the quality of the ideas and the observations. 

So far from making photography easier these tools may be lifting photography to a more interesting level – where ideas and experience matter.   The professionals will certainly  have to demonstrate the originality of their ideas as well as technical flare.

Published by Mark

Mark Waddington is a former BBC broadcaster and producer. He now works for the Diocese of Leeds as Urban Mission Officer. If you would like to get in touch email