Jan 3, 2022

Raising the bar on your craft

Dilip Ramachandran
3 min read

On Christmas day, I was on our traditional hiking with the family in Redwood Regional Park. I observed as my five-year-old took a picture of a false spider we found on the trail.

The picture is awesome for many reasons; she's very perceptive and sees things at her height that we adults tend to miss. Additionally, she's very alert and pretty effective at absorbing all the stimuli that's presented to her visually.

She certainly has an eye for spotting cool things to take photos of.

And she's really lucky to have top quality equipment. This particular photo was taken using portrait mode from an iPhone Pro 11.

Today, anyone who has access to a modern iPhone, Samsung or Pixel device has some really powerful hardware in their palms. I used to have a Nikon DSLR camera that I've completed stopped using because I can make perfectly good photographs with my iPhone, that automatically upload to the cloud, saving me hours of photo administration per month.

Let's look at some of the statistics. Only looking at high-end smartphone shipments, we're getting to over 257.5 million shipments in the last two years. Compare that to DSLRs, there's at a measly 8.66 million shipments across ALL brands. While major smartphone manufacturer shipments were down in 2020 due to supply chain issues, DSLRs were really hammered with a 54% decline.

Device Type 2019( MM) 2020( MM)
Apple iPhone 11 & 12 Smartphone 102 80
Samsung Galaxy S Smartphone 37 28
Google Pixel


3.5 7
Nikon DSLRs

All, non mirrorless

4.16 ~`2
Canon DSLRs

All, non mirrorless

1.73 ~`0.85

With so many devices out there, it isn't a surprise that companies like Apple, Samsung and Google have combined data, machine learning, and some of the best hardware engineers to create fantastic cameras, and they continue to iterate with the use of over-the-air software updates.

Ok, at this point I know many of you are going to have objections such as:

Yes, I get all of that, but if I'm standing next to my daughter with my Nikon D-series, to submit to an online competition, will I take a better photo? Will I be able to submit it faster?

The result is that professional photographers have to work much harder. Not only in finding something really special to photograph, but they have to raise the bar on the craft, in the message they want to communicate to the viewer.

What does it mean to raise the bar on your craft?

During our time in Sri Lanka, the family visited Wilpattu National Park for an early morning safari. We wanted to catch the elusive leopard, and unfortunately couldn't but were able to see Sri Lanka's national bird, the junglefowl, several times.

Here's a photo that my daughter took of one of them up close when we were at the rest area.

They look beautiful, and the bright colors make for a pretty exceptional photograph, of a... chicken.

On Christmas eve, we went to the California Academy of Sciences where we came across the Big Picture 2021 Competition and were pleasantly surprised to find a Sri Lankan photographer as one of the winners for the "Winged Life" category.

The photographer is Ashane Marasinghe, and he's really taken a photograph of this junglefowl to the next level, capturing a batfly on the back of the junglefowl. How do you end up with a photograph like this? I can imagine not only taking hundreds, or thousands of photographs, but actually having the patience to weed through them to pick and post-process the right one. Your smartphone's AI can't do that for you.

Two forms of winged life, one photo: Finalist Ashane Marasinghe's photo highlights the Sri Lankan junglefowl, the national bird of Sri Lanka, and, crawling into frame, a blood-sucking batfly, with legs evolved to traverse feathers.
Hidden Hitchhiker, Ashan Marasinghe

How will you raise the bar on your product management craft?

As I look back at my product management career over the past 15 years, we got access to fantastic tools like JIRA, Confluence, Trello, Github, Productboard, Sheets/Excel, Slides/PowerPoint that help us better organize our thoughts, communicate our intent, and ship delightful products.

And that "product stack" is available to any product manager, whether you're an intern right out of university, or a seasoned chief product officer. I spend a good number of words in Gangsta Vision writing about "how you go Gangsta", specific tactics and tools to help you think differently, force multiply your effort and find new ways to wrangle the information assymetry.

Really looking forward to getting the author community into the fold over the next few weeks.

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Dilip Ramachandran

Entrepreneur, Author, Dad and Product therapist

Dilip Ramachandran has over 15+ years of building teams, shipping delightful and highly successful enterprise software products in MarTech and FinTech at companies like Walmart, Experian, Marqeta and Bond.

Dilip wrote Gangsta Vision to help folks in product management to figure out their path and a plan to break into senior leadership.

At Nimi, Dilip is CEO and Chief Product Therapist helping high-growth FinTech startups with product and payments advisory and matching them with highly reliable and skilled experts in Sri Lanka. Learn more about Nimi at www.nimidev.com

Dilip has a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and resides in Oakland, California with his partner Alla, daughter Ariadna and son Wiley (a papillon-sheltie rescue). The family occasionally travels to Colombo, Sri Lanka for his work with Nimi.