The world of photography has changed. We photographers hear about it all the time – how the profitability has gone, how the market has tanked, how everyone has a camera now and people in general no longer value a good photograph. And it is true. Images shared on FB, Uncle Bob taking your wedding images on his fancy new DSLR or mirrorless retro-styled camera, continue to have a measurable impact.
The selfie craze illustrates what we value in terms of image content and quality of image. Photography has gone democratic, guerrilla even. OMG, cry the aristocracy, the masses have taken over. Its all so common.
Things certainly have changed. Imperfection is the new vogue. Blur is back. Sunflare is art. Film is the new digital. Fake film is trendy. The phone camera has all but killed the point’n’shoot camera, and it has ushered in the electronic screen as a replacement to both the traditional viewfinder and more importantly the photographic print as the main medium of exhibition. Furthermore, the Internet’s sharing capabilities have stopped many people from bothering to walk into a studio and pay for a professional shoot.
But all that is to miss the point: it has also innovated image making, moving it on from previously restricted practices, allowing people who did not have the time or money or traditional skillset to work in this way. Most new users (and by definition, there are millions of them/us) are loving the democratization of photography.
Mobile devices have proved fertile soil for innovation in post-processing, ease of use, speed, and sharing our work with the world. This isn’t going to go away. It is only going to get better – devices and apps will be easier to use and it is increasingly easier to create good content. It is fun and inspiring.
Yes, the professional photographer is going to have to work harder to keep their value at sustainable levels, and to do that we are going to have to embrace inevitability rather than resist it. Sure, there are going to be far more poorly executed ideas thrust upon us, more blogs (like this one) to add to the digital noise, and yes, ye ole’photographers, it is diluting the profession. But the good will stick out from the crowd and the innovative will rise to the top.
We’re not just photographers any more. We’re image creators, storytellers, and we need to blend different technologies and forms into something that people want. We have to make images move; we have to make moving images. Integrating the new technologies with the old is essential to our future. I haven’t figured it out yet, but it is fun to be on the road and part of it. Below is a set of shot’n’processeed on the run in Gurgaon.
(Note: all of the above images were taken and edited on an iPhone 4s).