Technology is better than ever. This, I am convinced, is a double-edged sword.
Cameras and lenses are able to pick up more detail than ever before. This means photographs are sharper than ever possible with film.
This also means, thanks to technology, we can see every detail of an object that even our own human eye may not notice standing at 6 feet away.
With modern cameras, we can take a photo in darker light than ever possible with film. And, the grain we once had with low light film is almost non existent.
Now, this sharpness, while incredible for things like commercial, product, or food photography, is not great for portraits.
So, in other words, things are almost hyper realistic. Your pores that I can’t see standing in front of you now look as sharp as moon craters through the Hubble telescope thanks to a lens/censor combination capable of more detail than ever possible with film.
This is where proper knowledge of soft filters or photoshop retouching to emulate such softness is necessary. A good photographer will know how to apply the right lens filter, or how to retouch a photo so it is realistic. Also note that bad retouching can make a photo look plastic, fake, and remove too much detail.
A good photographer knows how to capture the best possible image to start with, and how to process it properly.