"Why can't photography today be as simple as with film?" This is a question I get everyday from students in my class. I remind them that even in the good old days of film that photography wasn't that simple. If you only shot and drop your film at a local lab all the work was hidden in the darkroom. This included processing and someone sitting there printing your images. Most of this work nowadays is done at your computer with you sitting there and making the choices that will affect how your images look.
What they may also be forgetting is in the days of yore we also had to chose which type of film to purchase (daylight or Tungsten) film speed (do I want slow or fast film) and if we out shooting under different lighting conditions how many different lens filters will I need to have in my bag. Let alone if you processed your own film then you had to decided what type of developer you wanted to use, how long do you leave the enlarger on for exposure and even paper type. Plus you had to do all of this standing up and in the dark for hours and just a few prints.
Advancements in both cameras and digital editing programs has not only put more of the power of imaging in our hands but has given us more understanding of just what it takes to make a good photo. This includes some of the age old principles of good exposure (quick show of hands of everyone who can name the three camera functions for a good exposure) and what goes into a pleasing composition.
While we may often may wish for a simpler camera and a few more easy buttons on our software keep in mind that a better understanding of both can give you images that once only came from the pros. All that it takes to move your snap shots to great shots is the desire to learn more about your tools because it the person behind the camera that really make the pictures.