Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What are "Pro Features" Anyway?

So, I've heard it a few times before; "oh that camera has a bunch of features that ONLY a professional photographer would use!"

Usually the context of this is a friend of mine asking for a camera recommendation, and their facebook friends chime in with their perspectives. THIS IS A GOOD THING... except when statements like the above are thrown into the mix. I love a good fanboy discussion, Canon vs Nikon, Mac vs PC, heck even Patron vs Milagro, but each photographer picks up a camera for different reasons. What may be unnecessary features for the weekend "snapshotter" might be critical to the eBay item photographer.
I guess we've been led down this road by all of the marketing that states things like "pro level features", "professional build", even the term Pro-sumer, as if there is really a level of user between the Consumer and Professional. Thousands of photogs, hacks, gadflies, fanboys and trolls have all pontificated about what makes a photog a professional, and I won't rehash that here.
What I will do instead is suggest a change in our vocabulary. Let's call them artistic features, creativity enhancers, or even in-camera tools. Don't call them advanced, professional, high-level or anything that would imply someone outside the money-making side of photography wouldn't use them. We limit our creativity when we set artificial boundaries on our palette of tools that are not artistically, stylistically, or financially based. (The latter is a disclaimer for all of the spouses of friends who I have recommended photographic and computer gear to throughout my life)
So what should we say, instead? "Oh, that camera has a bunch of artistic features I don't use"
Or:
"I'm not willing to spend the cash for the extra creative enhancers that I can't imagine using!"
Or maybe even:
...(blink, blink, blink)..
Yes, sometimes nothing is the best thing we can say as fellow artists if all our words are going to do is limit the creativity of another.