If you’re someone that works directly OR indirectly with the photography industry then give this a read. (Even if you don’t do either, just read.)
Because we need to address the elephant in the room.
Were you not aware there was one? Oh there is.
Let’s all say it together, the photography industry is changing.
And we currently don’t totally know how exactly. All I know is that it’s constantly shifting and evolving. I just haven’t figured out what exactly it’s evolving into.
A market in the flux of an evolution.
What I know for sure is that the commercial photography industry as a whole is shrinking. Budgets are being extra scrutinized and standards that are passed around are more in the mold for current times. What does that mean for us professional photographers out here still trying to make a living?
The overall market for it has shifted to include things like iphoneography and Instagram shooters.
For example, you may not have extensive experience as a photographer but if your Instagram account has tens of thousands of followers, you might get hired to shoot alongside that high-end industry pro on the same ad campaign. Whilst many newspapers and magazines have opted to lay off their staff photographers and have their journalists learn the likes of “iphoneography”. Not to mention this whole Ikea having their catalog be 75% CGI thing.
It’s a weird thought. And I’m not sure quite where to place my opinion on the whole matter.
Remember when film was the norm?
Back before digital had fully taken over, commercial photography was still done on film. (Remember that stuff? The shiny plastic that you stuck into the back of cameras? Hello??) And in that time period standards and knowledge of commercial work were very different. Capturing the perfect image included a lot more risks (film involves development AND printing, remember?), knowledge of proper techniques, and time (like hours to days more).
Now that digital is the new norm, those have all gone out the window in place of a new set of expectations. Since digital photography is so accessible to all, everyone’s views on it have changed to think that commercial photography is easy and accessible too. Which is, for the most part, not the case.
Anyone experienced in the field can tell you that it is still extensive work crafting and creating the ideal shot beyond just the push of a button. Namely, the tedious work in planning and pre-production to the tedious work of retouching, editing, and post-production.
Plus the whole running a successful business doing this kind of stuff. Sustaining that business, keeping up with current times, and continuing to improve and maintain a competitive advantage has started to become a seemingly impossible task.
Not to mention it’s more competitive than ever. And it’s getting harder to distinguish between the seasoned pro’s vs. the entry level novice due to things like budget friendly DSLR’s and a shifted opinion of what “professional” means.
Oh the times they are a changin'
But I digress.
Despite all of those hardships and potential headaches to come, I still love to work in this industry. It’s what I like to do and love to continue to learn and expand. It may just be time to accept that this whole “easy and accessible” thing won’t go away but we can all do our part to help continue to educate and vouch for the quality that counts. And to remember that things like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be powerful tools for your business if harnessed in the right ways.
And to accept that the times are a changin’ again. Just like back when film was phasing out and many resisted.
We will have to figure out ways to create a premium brand position, price strategically, market authentically, and truly connect with those we work with. Commercial photography is morphing and our business practices will need to follow.
I wouldn’t worry too much at this point in time, photography as a whole is not going anywhere. The commercial/digital industry though is slowly but surely switching things up. The Phoblographer wrote a pretty interesting little post about The Need for DSLR’s in an Increasingly Mobile World.
Do you have any additional idea’s on this whole period of change? Maybe just some fears or hopes for the industry? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
P.S. Giant sidetrack alert!
Here’s one thing that I cannot stop being excited about - G-Eazy. By chance, I caught his performance at the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas this year. He did a great job and his music really stuck with me.
Hip hop has always been one of my favorite genre’s. This guy demonstrates a versatility in his music from being brash, brazen, and tongue-in-cheek to surprisingly poignant, and hopeful.
G-Eazy resonates with me in a way that other music hasn’t done in awhile. Every time I start listening I get this deep, nostalgic feeling. It reminds me of: growing up, being young, past times, and all those life experiences in-between. There’s bits and pieces throughout all his songs that I can relate to or reminds me of my friends or things that I’m feeling even now. In some strange way, I feel like I know him. I like to think that that’s because we’re the same age.
Throughout his body of work you can hear all the hard work that was put in, the life experiences, the fears, the good and bad times.
You may think this is cheesy or weird but discovering this has ended up being exactly what I needed at the right moment in time. The connection that I feel to his music has made me into a die-hard fan. And I haven't stopped listening since.
And it looks like he’s only going up from here. If you don’t get offended too easily, give it a listen. :)