Photography is a dying profession.
The introduction of digital cameras in the late 1990's was merely the first wave of a technological onslaught that has come to mortally wound photography as a business. DSLRs are now relatively inexpensive, particularly on eBay. Sophisticated imaging software built into apps such as instagr.am can produce reasonable photographs from the cheapest of cheap mobile phone cameras. Photography courses, tutorials -- and tutors -- are everywhere. Everywhere.
Let's face it, if you're a professional photographer, you're on the endangered species list. Sorry for the bad news. Don't believe me? Let's take weddings as an example.
Collaborative 'cloud services' are the 'next big thing' -- soon, all of your wedding attendees' shots will be amalgamated, analysed, corrected, enhanced, selected based on arbitrary 'artistic' measures, and then laid out on an aesthetically-pleasing web-page three minutes after the last dance of the evening. Who needs to pay a photographer when all you need to do is send your guests a fifteen-minute tutorial on the rule-of-thirds, and ask them to bring their smartphones and DSLRs?
There's already a term for this in the photography world, roughly borrowed from machine-gun warfare: 'spray and pray'. 'A thousand monkeys using a thousand typewriters' works equally well if you replace 'monkeys' with 'wedding guests' and 'typewriters' with 'cameras'.
But, it's not just wedding photographers who may soon need their own habitat on the professional-wildlife reserve. If you're a chef at a small-time gourmet restaurant you may not be in much better shape. Cooking gourmet at home is back in vogue -- no longer is the suburban kitchen merely a place to heat up frozen dinners; video tutorials on YouTube have made it less than rocket surgery to whip up a decent risotto, or roast a turkey to perfection. Why spend a hundred dollars to go out to a restaurant when you can uncork a decent bottle of red, spend an hour or two learning about emulsions, and then tuck into your not-half-bad entree with the added satisfaction that you made it yourself?
However, the list of endangered professions is not limited to these two -- applications such as GarageBand have severely encroached upon the domain of the professional musician; the ascendance of YouTube has changed the paradigm of video broadcasting forever; free self-publishing has rocked the book world to its foundations. Why would you spend a bunch of money to hire studio musicians for your 'break out' album if you can just back yourself with your computer, and most people won't hear the difference? Who needs talent scouts or editors when you can just see who's hot on the 'net, and make them an offer?
Sad as their lot is, I wouldn't mourn these poor souls for too long. After all, this isn't about the death of the 'true' professionals -- people who need to constantly think and learn to survive -- this is about the demise of the technicians -- those who learn a few bits of relatively obscure knowledge, and then pretend as if they know some form of arcane sorcery that their clients will desperately require, and thus will pay handsomely for.
Will photographers-as-artists cease to exist? Of course not. Talented photographers will always create stunning, unconventional works, inventing new rules and breaking old paradigms, creating value worth both admiration and remuneration.
What I refer to here are all those who 'paint-by-numbers'. To be blunt, learning how to set proper exposure and obey the rule-of-thirds is no longer enough to earn a paycheque.
If the restaurant business is suffering because your average individual can watch a YouTube video or two, and then actually do a half-decent job at following through on preparing a 'gourmet' dish -- then that dish is, by definition, no longer gourmet, and any restaurant still professing their 'artistry' by providing same is simply mediocre and uninspired.
I'm sorry to be so harsh, but I'm just saying how it is. If Jane-at-home can do it with little effort, then by definition, it's no longer exceptional.
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