Why I Do Photography
I enjoy capturing a special moment in time, one that the viewer can view at their leisure, possibly to enhance their memory of something they saw.
I love nature, be it the water patterns in a pond, or a loon taking flight, or the northern lights. If I can share it with others, I feel good about that.
Sports are fun; being a decent athlete, I understand motion, and have the ability to capture critical points in time.
It's expensive. I can't afford the professional level gear; it's a struggle to keep the "pro-sumer" level gear I've got up-to-date.
But I enjoy it, and isn't that good enough reason? Life is short.
I am not a professional photographer; this is a hobby for me, one that I'll likely turn to in retirement, assuming I make it that far.
There are a few great photographers, many really, really good photographers, a proverbial ton of amateur photographers, and now anybody who owns a "smartphone" photographer.
There's a glut of photography, really. Occasionally, an amateur will create a great photo, and sell it for $50, or give it to a TV station to appear on their morning news for the notoriety. Publications, print and online, often settle for lesser quality as they find it good enough to sell with the rest of their content. Still, the difference is obvious when you compare these publications with one that emphasizes high quality photography.
Meanwhile, too many professionals, who've committed huge amounts of time and money to their craft, have seen their market all but disappear, their work unappreciated by those who believe their friend with the camera can shoot their wedding or family portrait.
Like most everything else, you get what you pay for. If you want the best, pay for it.
I like Photoshop. I don't use it that often, but it's a fantastic tool when you need it. It's Adobe the company I sometimes dislike.
Example: I receive weekly updates of security warnings from US-CERT, and for the week of October 12, 2015, Adobe had the top 57 warnings, with all but one ranking 10 out of a 1-10 scale. Adobe commonly tops the list, especially Flash.
Example: Trying to obtain a license to academic use isn't worth the trouble; it's cheaper to pay the commercial price and save a lot of time and headaches. I lost almost three weeks of work this year while our office manager dealt with the licensing BS and required 3rd-party vendor. #nightmare. On the other hand, I pay a monthly fee for commercial use of Photoshop (w/Bridge, ACR & LightRoom) for use at home, and I have no problems with their pricing, plus I'm guaranteed - as long as I have a solid Internet connection - up-to-date software, and that's to both Adobe's and my advantage.
Back to Photoshop, I do most of my photo processing in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR; I've yet to try LightRoom), and apply Photoshop actions to create final JPG's for end use. Otherwise, easily 90% of my processing work is via ACR; only if something needs extensive modifications do I use Photoshop, and that's just not that often.
Amazing tool, Photoshop is (my Jedi side speaking). I'm old enough to have some darkroom experience, and there's no comparison. I've heard comments about darkroom processing being an art form (it is) and digital processing not; well, in a different way, an expert's touch with Photoshop is an art form. Used well, Photoshop enhances an image, which is exactly what darkroom work does, enhances an image.
You've seen "HDR" photos (High Dynamic Range), most often applied to skies and landscapes, they often seem surreal. That's 'cuz they are, usually through poorly applied tone mapping, resulting in over-saturated colors to extremes. HDR processing can result in some incredible photography/artwork, but it's being overused, and worse, too often poorly applied.
Recently, I viewed some product sales photos; they looked fake. Actually, they screamed fake. Helluva message to send to prospective customers.
Here are some posts to read (links open in new windows):
Whose Work I Admire
This does not include wedding photographers. Nothing against them, just not my area of interest.