Is the photographic industry dead or dying?

I am a professional photographer, that simply means I get paid to take photographs. This is my livelihood and not just a fun pass time (I know how lucky I am to enjoy what I do for a living). I am aware of the things that are said and done on the internet and the speed with which this industry is changing.

As anyone in this industry its hard to be truly objective about its development as anything I will say could be seen as sour grapes. On a positive note, digital photography has made photography accessible to anyone, which is a good thing, right? This means that the numbers of people with a ‘decent’ camera, clicking away has gone exponential. Even IPhone’s are regarded as excellent at gathering the image. You even have Pro’s shooting weddings with one!

Now I am not a photography snob (at least I don’t think I am), photography is not about your kit or equipment, its all about seeing the potential of an image before you take it and using your skill to capture it, however I do worry about perception with the public (clients) and more and more with people within the industry. Weddings are now being shot by Pro’s with the iphone 4, which is great for iphone and I am sure that a skilled operator does it justice. The problem is that every man and his dog has an iphone though and the perception ‘could’ be that anyone can now do a professional job with one. Not true. There will however be an issue with costs as you can get one of these cameras free on a contract and other photographers have over ten thousand pounds worth of kit, both pitching for the same wedding, there will be a massive range of costs, so where will this lead. Not having an iphone (for now), I really don’t know just how adept they are, my understanding is that you get app’s to re-work the images. This to me is like using a filter in Photoshop to give your images a ‘look’. In essence you use a filter to make ‘ordinary’ images stand out. This is only my opinion.

Where does that leave the industry? Well only time will tell, but one thing that gives me a degree of hope is that more and more clients are beginning to seek references from a photographer prior to booking, could this be down to the client now understanding that its the person that makes the image and not the camera? Is this knowledge borne from the experience of having a ‘good’ camera and wondering why they can not get the quality of image they expected by pointing it and shooting? Could this finally be the bubble of an over saturated market about to burst and the beginning of the rediscovery and homage to the skill of the photographer?

This is not intended to be an elitist subject, because these developments have brought some very talented people into an industry that was largely inaccessible before, but a statement about how an unregulated industry is seen by many as being in the dying twitches. Could we be seeing the dawn of a new era? Discuss. 

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2 comments
  1. Ciao, well, on the whole l agree with you but l’m in the opinion that everyman and his dog with an iPhone is not taking a photo…only snapping away regardless of thought (you only have to check out other bloggers with iPhones) whether they make a few adjustments, adding fire, color, (all rainbow) shading, creating a canvas look signifies that they really want to be artists and are not content with life in reality. Photography for me is just that, life seen via a lens, street, documentary, war, affords us the opportunity to give people a voice, a representation, and hopefully a truth. A great photograph will stand on it’s own throughout time as a true testament to what happened, you can’t put words to it, or add an ideology. ( re; FSA in USA) Sure we test the limits of images and that’s good we also test the audiences perception, but if all folk can do is photograph their own feet and call themselves photographers….well it’s sad init?

    • LOL, thanks Lynne. I do think we agree with each other here. It is a shame that there is a perception that anyone can take a photo, maybe with training, but taking a (good) photo is not simply a case of picking up a camera and letting loose. The point here was that possibly though, the fact that people everywhere are now taking photo’s they are now understanding that it is not actually easy, but a skill and maybe the early signs are that the bubble of the over saturated market is about to burst.

      It will only be a matter of time I feel. There are far too many brides anguished by the lack of quality of their wedding albums. Where the industry is when this happens and how pro photographers are working then will be the issue. Will we all be using video and taking frames from them for the album for example?

      I hope not but the market will obviously be consumer lead!

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