There are no professional photographers. That is what Melissa Mayer said not too long ago, now that everyone has an iphone with a camera with them at all times. Was it insulting? Definitely. Was it taken out of context? Probably. Are people already forgetting about it? I think so (not me, clearly, which is ironic because i'm not a professional photographer). Between that and Instagram taking pictures and adding filters has become a way of life. I think everyone who takes pictures in the modern times probably has used one filter or another at one point. I certainly have.
90% of my photos aren't shot with my phone, or Instagram for that matter (I'm not a member). My goto cameras are the Sony a55 and more recently the Sony RX-100 AKA The pocket rocket. Most Sony cameras these days come with more built in filters than you can imagine. And when I say filters I don't mean Circular Polarizer or Neutral Density (though that would be nice)...I'm talking about what people consider filters today...Posterize, Color Filter, High Intensity, Sketch, etc. And to be honest, I don't use any of them too often, however I am happy with the results of the pictures (and I hope you are too!).
When people see I shoot with Sony instead of Canon or Nikon I get a lot of eye rolls. Sure I lust after the Canon 5D MkIII just like every other red-blooded photography enthusiast, but that is a little ways down the road. So why Sony? Why not join the cult of Canon or Nikon, and in the process have access to years of used equipment available to me on Craigslist . As it turns out, there is just as many used accessories and lenses available on Craigslist or Amazon for Sony as there are for Canon or Nikon, so I'm not really losing too much there. The reason, I tell people, is because I like it. And as I've said before, the camera is a tool, and if you are happy with what you can accomplish with the tools you have, then that is the most important thing, in my humble opinion. It's a preference, pure and simple.
Back to the filters...is the filter another tool in the arsenal, or is it a shortcut to get a look you're going for? Oddly, none of the cameras that I've used that have come with built in filters that i'm interested in using regularly, or that would save me time or money. For example a neutral density filter, or a circular polarizer (which reduces glare and lets you see a little further beneath the water). Maybe there is a way to do it digitally, but as far as I know if you want something like that, you either have to do it on the computer, or use an actual physical filter...Ultimately, I feel that filters are a another tool in the arsenal, like another color of paint, or a different type of canvas.