Good photographs still matter

by Pete

In a previous life I was surrounded by professional photographers, and I even managed to win the B grade slide cup one year.  I’m told I’ve got a good eye, and I certainly am capable.  Back in the day, we used to wind our own film off a large 30m bulk roll, we had a laundry that had been converted into a darkroom, and everything pretty much revolved around the art of capturing light on film.

I remember “going digital” in the mid-90s with a Casio digital camera that was capable of an astounding 640 x 480 resolution.  It was used a lot to add photos to web sites, and I even pitched the idea to the SPCA that we could come take photos of the inmates and push adoptions via a web site.  That was the sort of radical edge of web development back then.

A few years later I progressed to proper digital gear, with glass lenses, and we were still pushing the “we do digital” as if it actually meant anything.  It was actually harder to take photos in challenging lighting conditions, because the range of film was so much better than what we could get off a CCD, although you could of course post-process the files and do all sorts of trickery.

Digital killed film, and companies like Kodak were hit very hard.

Wind forward a little more, and the only people still picking up film photography are hipsters and photography students.   Just about all of us have a camera in our pocket these days that does the job of taking a record shot of whatever you feel like taking an image of.  In fact, some people have pushed it to the level of banality by sharing what seems to be every meal, every latte, and every mundane detail of their lives via the Internet.

Photography is now so available and ubiquitous, we have stopped valuing it altogether.  Some decades ago, every time you pressed the shutter, you paid $1-$2 per photo, and for most of us, eking out the roll could take weeks if not months, so it would be a long time before you got to see the results.

Because of the low cost, instant nature and 24/7 availability of technology, we are in danger of lowering both our expectations as well as our standards when it comes to good photography.   And the interesting thing is that as we move into a future that requires more of it, the average quality is getting worse.

Somehow we still see the value in having a professional turn up at weddings, or work for news or television, but more of us are winging it when it comes to industrial, product and even corporate people photography.   And that’s where using the camera phone simply isn’t up to the task.   Having someone turn up that understands light, has the gear to fill in the shadows, or reflect the right warmth into the scene makes a world of difference.

If you’re going to be paying $5,000 for a brochure run, or  web site, or a prospectus, why on earth are you putting bad photos in there?

To show you the difference, Whaleoil used to make the same mistake – thinking that a decent snapshot was good enough.  For some years, this is the go-to photo of Cam we used

Cameron Slater

Cameron Slater

At one level, there is nothing wrong with it.  Taken in the front garden of his home, shooting over the hedge, across the street.   It seems to do the job.   But herein lies the problem – we’re now so used to seeing average photography, by lifting the standard, you can really make a difference.

This was done by a professional

Cameron Slater Journalist and Blogger

Cameron Slater Journalist and Blogger

And so was this one.

Cameron Slater Journalist and Blogger

Cameron Slater Journalist and Blogger

There is actually a lot more to taking a photo than just pointing the camera at something and pressing the shutter button, and when you need photography for important, long lasting things, like web sites, brochures, business cards, books, training manuals, corporate profiles, CVs, events, and so on, it pays to remember that a professional brings a lot more than just the camera.


One of Whaleoil’s supporters is  Geoff Beynon from DigiPro Photography in Auckland.  Geoff switched from advertising to photography in the late 80’s, and is coming up to 30 years of wide ranging experience that includes a huge range of clients and business categories.   He even did a stint as a NZ Herald photographer, back in the day when the NZ Herald was still something to be proud of.

Make a note of DigiPro so that next time you need a proper job done, you support the people that support Whaleoil:  DigiPro Photography.   He’s also a very nice guy and easy to work with, and that shows in the work as people appear relaxed and are clearly enjoying themselves.


Visit Geoff’s web site at and see what he does, and what he can do for you.





As you can see, the difference is worth it.   Contact Geoff now on 021 62 62 65 and explain what you need done.  You don’t have to be in Auckland, he does assignments from anywhere in the country.

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