Photography is not hard in an academic sense. The fundamentals are rooted in physics, but the principles are few and simple. Photography is applying those principles as a means to bring creative ideas inside of one’s head into being.
What makes photography hard is what makes every other artistic medium hard. One has to conceive of an idea, and master the skills to manipulate light and machinery needed to bring that idea into existence.
Furthermore, tools such as cameras, strobes, filters, software, etc. are merely resources for the use of the creator. They do not make one a creator, nor do they endow the skills required to fully use the resources. A novice will take terrible snapshots whether he has a cell phone or a $3,000 camera because he has the mind of a novice.
Becoming a photographer requires one to expand one’s understanding and ability to match the creative mind. This process, in turn, expands the creative mind further. This requires a new expansion of understanding and ability. And thus the cycle continues.
Line upon line, precept upon precept.