The future of photography

PhotoandGrime

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Hey all! The last few years photography has become available to almost everyone with a few bucks. People use Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and whatever to share their pictures.
If you want to work as a photographer, most of the time you either have to be really good, or cheap, I've noticed. I've seen people with great talent give up on photography as a job, because they simply couldn't
get inside the 'real' business, and/or were constantly asked to lower their prices around minimum wage, etc.

So I was wondering, what's the future of photography? How do you expect it will look? What areas do you think (journalism, fashion, infant/family photography for example) will stay around for long? And do you think more or less photographers will be able to make a living in those areas?

Also, do you think being a photographer will mean you have to be a photoretoucher 80% of the time as well? And that photographers need to work in more areas than one (digital artist, photo retouchers, product sellings as well, etc) to make a living out of it?

I'm very curious how you all think our future will look.
 

amolitor

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Well, photography is going to be around, but it's just not going to pay very well!

Stock photography has exploded. There is more truly excellent stock available now than there were pictures made in the first 100 years of photography (I made that up, but it's probably pretty close to true). Nobody's making any money on stock, though.

Journalism is starting to cave in as a money-making venture, but there's still tons of news pictures!

There are more pictures than ever, but now you can pretty much always find someone to to a job involving pictures for free, or less money than you used to pay. There's downward pressure all around. Some jobs are simply going to vanish, others are going to take a major pay cut, and others will evolve into more complex jobs of which photography is just a part. The perceived value will have to come from somewhere else, because taking pictures has very little perceived value. If you want to make money taking pictures over the next 30 years, I recommend that you have a package of skills, of which taking pictures is one.

There's also a little bit of a revival of older methods, particularly those which make unique objects. Ambrotypes, tintypes. I suspect, but have no real evidence, that this may become more important. There is perceived value, potentially, in these unique objects, that a digital photograph does not have.
 

bratkinson

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Take a look around at the next wedding you attend. There's far more pictures being taken with smart phones than anything else. The small point and shoots are quickly disappearing in favor of 'free' photo capabilities on the phone. And DSLR shooters? Only the high-end weddings will pay for DSLR shooters, some good, some bad, some expensive, some cheap. Making money there can only become harder and harder.

These days, close to everyone out there has a smart phone, ipad, or whatever capable of taking pictures. Everything BUT a DSLR. I spent several hours in the waiting area of the Washington DC train station this week. I think I was the ONLY person there that didn't have any 'gadgetry' other than my 5D3, etc. OK, I did have my prepaid dumb-phone with me. It makes calls. That's all I want it to do. Call me old fashioned. Heck, just call me old. And I was at the computer forefront back in the late '60s and '70s. '80s, too.

Where's it all going, other than down the proverbial sewer? I suspect that 10 years from now, DSLRs will become all but extinct as smart phones etc will have Av, Tv and M capabilities added to them as their lenses and sensors improve. They might even get zoom capabilities akin to what the under $300 point and shoots can do today.

So why should someone spend big bucks on a DSLR with some fancy glass? I expect that DSLR photography will 'split' into two groups...hobbiest (little if any paid work), and high-end pro with a 100+mp camera with an 8x10 sensor used to make bill-board sized pictures and murals. Of course, that work will be near impossible to come by, as 100+mp cameras will be in the $10K and up price range and there will be too many workers for not enough jobs...ergo, low pay.

Call me 'negative', if you'd like. But 30 years ago, who would have thought that a cheapo Kodak 0.1mp point-and-shoot type camera that recorded 10 pictures on a 1.2meg floppy disk would eventually put film cameras (and Kodak!) out of business...except to an 'elite' market? 47 years ago, the professor in my first college computer sciences class held up a grid about 18"x18"x2" and proudly announced "this is a THOUSAND characters of computer memory", to which the lecture hall went 'ooohhh'. It probably cost about $500,000 in 1966 dollars, too. Today, 16 BILLION characters of computer memory goes for about $15 in 2013 dollars (USB flash)...what, $1.50 of 1966 money? As technology marches on, the cost of high-capability camera electronics will continually shrink and putting the equivalent of a Canon 5D3 in an iphone and the whole thing go for $200 in 2013 wouldn't surprise me one bit. Perhaps interchangeble iphone lenses will come along by then as well.
 

runnah

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Right now we are in a revolutionary time. Cheap high quality image making has never been easier and more abundant. It's really a free for all at this point and of course like any revolution you have people lamenting the way things used to be.

Things are never going to be the same. The dust has yet to settle and people are still trying to figure out the norm and the best way to make money.
 

Nick1959

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Also remeber the accessabilty to cheaper cmeras have made it possible for thousands of people pursue photography as hobby. IMHO photgraphy will become more popular but phogrphy as a livelihood is going to be practically impossible unless you have such great artisitc skills.
 

runnah

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Also remeber the accessabilty to cheaper cmeras have made it possible for thousands of people pursue photography as hobby. IMHO photgraphy will become more popular but phogrphy as a livelihood is going to be practically impossible unless you have such great artisitc skills.

Wrong.

By your logic there would be no Hollywood movies because everyone has a home video camera or on their cell phones.

The only photographers who should be scared are the ones that aren't good enough to set themselves above some mom with a camera.
 

amolitor

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But hollywood *is* in trouble. It's not because just any fool can make a movie, but it *is* because movies have been devalued.

The DVD business has fallen into a hole and been eaten alive by streaming, and the margins are just plain a lot lower there. We expect all our digital content online, and we expect it for cheap, usually in some sort of all-you-can eat monthly package.

The problem isn't that any fool can take wedding pictures. The problem is that pictures are seen as free. Sure, I know I can't shoot a wedding with my cell phone, but I *can* take pictures with it, for nothing. Everyone sees a gap between "my cell phone snaps" and "professional wedding photographs" but they cannot believe that the gap is $10,000 wide. Or even $1000.

The problem isn't the moms shooting weddings for $50, really. Sure, you're gonna lose some business to them, but it's not the basic problem. The basic problem is that they're part of a larger world view in which pictures are free, and "professional" pictures are, as a corollary, cheap. Prices get forced down.
 

jenko

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Making a living from photography?

I would say pretty darn tough these days. Much more realistic as a side job. Some areas are going to be more lucrative than others too. Wedding photography is probably always going to be around because it's one of those events where people will go out of their way to make it special and hire a pro. Baby photography to some extent. Senior portraits too. Fashion and product photography require skill, but also luck and very good connections. If one had the time and money to do an internship that would be the way to get your foot in the door. So basically, one would have to be young, unmarried, childless, and ready to schmooze. A trust fund would also help because Manhattan aint cheap. But maybe I am just a pessimist? lol
 

KmH

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Also remember the accessibility to cheaper cameras have made it possible for thousands of people pursue photography as hobby. IMHO photography will become more popular but phogrphy as a livelihood is going to be practically impossible unless you have such great artisitc [sic] skills.
With something like 1/2 a billion (500,000,000) new photos being added to the Internet everyday photos are quickly becoming perceived as a commodity by both buyers and sellers.

High quality images can still be marketed and sold at prices that provide a living income.
Having someone else make photos for you is a luxury purchase, and should be marketed and priced accordingly.
Many new to the business of photography seem to be fairly clueless about how to make high quality images. They also seem to be fairly clueless about how to start and maintain a business.

As it is, one does not need to have 'great artistic skills' to make money doing photography, but one does need to have good business skills.

Actually, the same applies to the starting of any type of business.
 

The_Traveler

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Also remeber the accessabilty to cheaper cmeras have made it possible for thousands of people pursue photography as hobby. IMHO photgraphy will become more popular but phogrphy as a livelihood is going to be practically impossible unless you have such great artisitc skills.

Wrong.

By your logic there would be no Hollywood movies because everyone has a home video camera or on their cell phones.

The only photographers who should be scared are the ones that aren't good enough to set themselves above some mom with a camera.

The camera is only a tiny part of the production engine of a motion picture whereas in still photography the camera can be the single most important and largest part.
 

runnah

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The camera is only a tiny part of the production engine of a motion picture whereas in still photography the camera can be the single most important and largest part.

So the camera was responsible for all those great photo of yours? Can I borrow it?
 

The_Traveler

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The camera is only a tiny part of the production engine of a motion picture whereas in still photography the camera can be the single most important and largest part.

So the camera was responsible for all those great photo of yours? Can I borrow it?

For every decent photo there are 1000 that are echhhh, believe me.
 

Derrel

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The last few years photography has become available to almost everyone with a few bucks.

When was this ever not the case?

The thing that has become cheaper over time is the duplication and distribution/dissemination of photographic images. There was a time when film was $3.99 per roll (IOW, priced at the cost of 4.48 gallons of gasoline @ $.89/gallon ), and decent-quality color print film developing was $10.99 per roll of 36 exposures printed (12.3 gallons of gasoline at $.89/gallon). At those prices, photographic film and print processing. In other words, buying a roll of 36 exposure color print film and having it developed at a decent lab, in the early 1990's, would set a regular person back as much as it would have cost them to buy one normal-sized tank full of gasoline; today, at $3.89 per gallon, that equates to $65. Photography used to carry with is very significant, REAL costs; film, devloping, proofing,printing, and enlarging used to represent very significant, ongoing costs for image-makers. Today, that is not the case. Today, the costs are hugely lower; a $2,495 Fuji S2 Pro d-slr gave me $75,000 worth of "e-6 film and processing" in only two years' worth of use, a decade ago--and that was with ZERO costs for fuel and time and lab trips...with a low-cost $650 d-slr, the cost-per-image creation cost is even more dramatically skewed.

So, in the early 1990's, shooting color prints was expensive. When the 1990's prices are adjusted to keep pace with the price of gasoline today, we can see that a 36-print cost was the equivalent of about $65, in today's money, using a necessity like gasoline as a way to track the relative cost of a luxury, like photographs.

Images used to be share-able only via prints (or slide shows). PRINTS were the normal way to view and share images; today, on-screen display is the norm. Digital capture has eliminated film costs, developing costs, printing costs, and enlarging costs, as well as costs for additional reprints to share with others who are not in the immediate, physical presence of an image.

The photography-for-pay industry really began to crumble seriously once SCANNERS became common; flatbed scanners that could take a traditional, printed image, and scan and digitize it, are what opened the floodgates that washed away the Old Model of shooting/proofing/selling prints and enlargements. Once computer imaging (meaning, the ,JPG image format and the personal computer evolution) developed and became more widespread, it was only about eight years or so before "film and prints" lost out to digitally-made, digitally-viewed, and digitally-distributed imaging as the New Model.

The real issue today is that people are trying to use older approaches that used to work, in a new era; an era where an image can EASILY (meaning in seconds, and with minimal skill required) be copied, and then distributed, for almost no monetary costs. The entire use model, cost model, pricing model, and delivery model--all those things are now...different. so, it's pretty difficult to predict how things are going to go, exdept if one just says, "The future will be different than the past was."
 

Majeed Badizadegan

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The only thing certain is uncertainty.
 

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