Ignoring the technical details, I believe photography is not a skill. It’s hard to say someone can be better doing photography than others if you consider the non-technical and the part of intrinsic value in photography. All photos, as long as exposed and composed as intended by the photographer, are as good as other photos.
The extrinsic value of photography, however, is to grab people’s attention through some sort of self-promotion from a directly or indirectly related event or concept to the subject. Photo editing apps mostly help improve the extrinsic value of photography by editing out parts that reduce the perceived chance of getting attention or enhancing parts that increase the perceived chance of getting more attention.
One the other hand, the intrinsic values of photography, namely self-satisfaction and self-acknowledgement, rarely need tools to reshape the level of deliberate attention; and there is rarely a need for the photographers who focus on the intrinsic need of photography to measure the attentions they could receive from their work and therefore they rarely solicit direct feedbacks. The interactions and feedbacks come from other domains of their lives, which trans-morph into their styles of photography. Such level of intimacy between their lives and their photography styles only allows the photographer to share their photos to a closed group of friends, or not to share at all.
When you think about great photographs that are considered thoughtful and meaningful, they are rarely produced by fulfilling extrinsic values. The most direct tool for creating such type of photography is the photographer’s own imagination but nothing else. Artificial tools that help such type of photography provide values in terms of reliability, safety, and security, but not the ability to manipulate photos.
The new marching generation of semi-pro photographers and prosumers are striking a balance between the extrinsic and intrinsic need of doing photography. They have the intrinsic need of porting their lives’ attitudes and perspectives into a tangible, visceral medium, at the same time they also enjoy getting attentions from the crowd. Tools for such group of photographer need to strike a balance between authenticity and manipulation, and should provide both the experience of inspiring an unique photo composition or exposure style, as well as giving insights to make the photos more popular .
The next generation, massively distributed tools in photography need to both provide the reliability and security needed by intrinsic purpose-driven photographers, as well as ways to assist and enhance extrinsic values of the photos. The combination of these two factors make the tool hard to design. I believe the most difficult part is to provide enough familiarity to the photographers, while being able to cater customized needs for each specific shot; all at the same time satisfy the reliability and security requirement so that the tool becomes a trustable, living coach that teaches the socially-likable kind of freedom of expression in photos.