Photography done as a profession? The New York Times seems to think so in this article today.
They are right that the triple whammy of microstock, cheap digital cameras, and the end of magazines and newspapers are bad news for photographers. They are also right that quality is not recognized: the quote at the end of the article is telling (and galling).
I think there is hope, however. For several reasons.
- Quality, in the end, wins out sometimes. In a McDonalds world, there are still bistros and Chateaubriand.
- Much business is gained by word of mouth, not advertising.
- Some events are too important to have Uncle Fred shoot (think “weddings”).
- The model will change. More pros are becoming microstock photographers. Any industry changes – this is inevitable. But “change” does not have to mean “vanish”.
- If everyone shoots, everyone needs to learn. This means pros who can teach will find a larger market waiting for them.
- News will continue to need coverage.
- There are other opportunities – facebook profiles, online magazines, albums, large prints: I see no waning in the popularity of photos per se.
This is all complex and fraught with uncertainty, but we can be sure, I think, that some photographers will survive, even thrive. Many more will go part time. Amateurs will be earning more too. Either way, photos will be taken and some people will continue make money.
But I agree with the New York Times: It’s definitely not the same business. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
The quote right above that last one is telling, too. Good results are only repeatable on demand if the photographer has some knowledge on their side. The ignorant approach can only produce random excellence.
Indeed. I wrote a post about that a few weeks ago, here: http://blog.michaelwillems.ca/2010/02/28/why-oh-why-2/