Should the photographer or the camera be credited for the quality of a photograph? The answer to this question seems obvious (to me), yet photographers often encounter statements from people who readily tell them, "I love your pictures, you must have a great camera" or "your photos are beautiful, that expensive (professional) camera is certainly worth what you paid for." It seems that most people have a general impression that photographers are only as good as their camera, and that a newer model, with more bells and whistles, will actually do miracles for anyone's photography-- a myth propagated and fueled by Camera manufacturers.
This erroneous belief started more than 100 years ago when George Eastman simplified the photographic process by inventing the first Kodak Camera. "You press the button, we do the rest" promised George Eastman in 1888. Everyone, wherever they went (since it was also portable), could easily take a picture with a Kodak -- essentially a shoebox sized light-tight box with a simple shutter, pre-loaded with his newly invented rolled-film (enough for 100 exposures). Before Eastman, photography was a laborious occupation, exclusive to professionals who used cumbersome cameras and individually prepared glass plates. The Kodak camera brought photography to the masses, and for the first time, knowledge and experience in the craft of photography took a back seat.
Since 1888, developments in photographic technology and imaging had made it easier and easier for all of us to take better photographs-- from point-and-shoot cameras with flash, to faster film stock and even auto-focus. The current digital technology has even reached the point (in my opinion), where it is almost impossible to take a badly exposed photo. Our current digital cameras (or cellphones) are not simple boxes anymore, but micro-sized pro-grade cameras that have variable shutters, irises, lenses and programmable flash guns that can all be automatically adjusted by computer. "You press the button, and the camera literally does the rest." In this day and age of the digital camera, everyone is at least, a competent photographer.
So has the camera finally replaced the photographer, after 120 years of technological advances?