Global competition shows we are all photographers in this technological age

IN THE digital age, a great photograph can be captured on an expensive camera or a cheap mobile phone.
Scott Gray, 37, founder and managing director of the World Photography Organisation, says as long as people are practising, engaging and talking about photography, it doesn’t matter how the photo is taken.
Mr Gray, who lives in London, was at the Sydney Opera House yesterday to open an exhibition of the Sony World Photography Awards, a competition celebrating the work of amateur and professional photographers.
More than 105,000 entries from 162 countries were received this year, including an entry shot on an iPhone.
This is the first time the exhibition has come to Sydney and it samples a mixture of entrants from 2009 to 2011. There are 38 works displayed on the western boardwalk, including work by Australians Liz Loh-Taylor and Kieran O’Connor, plus 120 other Australian entries inside.
Mr Gray said photography was not about being an amateur or a professional but about capturing people’s imagination with an image.
“I don’t like using the term amateur because it makes you feel like you’re talking about someone’s art you don’t respect,” he said. “It’s up to the photographer to decide what category they fall into.” Mr Gray prefers the term enthusiast to amateur.
Evolving technologies had made it easier and cheaper to enter the market, he said. “You can be spontaneous and take 100 photos and it won’t cost you anything, or you can take a photo on your phone and that’s classified as art.”
Alan Hitchell, president of the Federation of Camera Clubs NSW, also said new technology had made it easier.
“If I take a photo and don’t like something, I can take another shot or use an editing program to fix it,” Mr Hitchell said.
“Almost everyone has a camera these days and it’s much simpler to go out and shoot something you like. Better systems have been built to make … amateur work look just as good as professional work.”