"Pro photography" doesn't have a future

Skygod44

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I was chatting to some pro friends over the weekend, and even here, the birthplace of Canon, Nikon and Olympus, the general consensus is that of the title.

And I blame smartphones almost entirely for this depressing foretelling.

When I started out in photography, I had a film camera and learned how to develop my own negatives and then do my own prints.

Virtually any size was ok - the bigger the better. But 36x4 exposures was way too many in a day's shoot.

Now, everyone has an AI linked smartphone in their pocket, capable of banging out 9,999+ photos, which can also shoot 4K video...
...which they'll mostly view on the same, tiny-teeny little smartphone screen.

So the answer as to whether or not my friends' gloom is valid, must rest on the possibility that camera/lens manufacturers' businesses are diversified enough to allow them to continue making our lovely gear, for an ever reducing number of customers.

Discuss -
šŸ¤”
 
probably depends - how many Getty photogs are getting paid for cellphone shots of the Formula 1? guessing zero...
Oh I'm sure things can trundle along for now, but there must be a point at which the manufacturers will throw in the towel.

UNLESS

They have their thumbs in lots of other pies.
 
@Skygod44
My mom was born on Oshima, and one of my aunts used to live on Kagoshima. I was born on Okinawa. I really miss Japan. I still have relatives in Osaka.

Film cameras were everywhere back then. I started out with a Petri, then when I could afford it, moved to Canon film cameras, then Canon digital cameras, back to Canon film cameras, and now switching back and forth between digital and film.

Even LP's have made a comeback, and film is also making a comeback. I don't think phones will ever replace pro level cameras. I could be wrong.
 
For wildlife and BIF I can't see smart phones ever having the reach needed for good shots or the FPS either.

Also there is Darwinism with smart phone wildlife shooting, to get close enough for a decent shot you may get eaten by the subject. As they say in Yellowstone Nat Park - don't try to get the fuzzy cows (buffalo) and moose and not Bullwinkle LOL
 
I was chatting to some pro friends over the weekend, and even here, the birthplace of Canon, Nikon and Olympus, the general consensus is that of the title.

And I blame smartphones almost entirely for this depressing foretelling.

When I started out in photography, I had a film camera and learned how to develop my own negatives and then do my own prints.

Virtually any size was ok - the bigger the better. But 36x4 exposures was way too many in a day's shoot.

Now, everyone has an AI linked smartphone in their pocket, capable of banging out 9,999+ photos, which can also shoot 4K video...
...which they'll mostly view on the same, tiny-teeny little smartphone screen.

So the answer as to whether or not my friends' gloom is valid, must rest on the possibility that camera/lens manufacturers' businesses are diversified enough to allow them to continue making our lovely gear, for an ever reducing number of customers.

Discuss -
šŸ¤”


Of course professional photography has a future. The term ā€œprofessionalā€ means someone who earns their living by photography. The tools that they use are largely irrelevant.

Did the advent of photography kill off artists? Did the advent of the synthesiser kill of musicians?
 
@Skygod44
My mom was born on Oshima, and one of my aunts used to live on Kagoshima. I was born on Okinawa. I really miss Japan. I still have relatives in Osaka.

Film cameras were everywhere back then. I started out with a Petri, then when I could afford it, moved to Canon film cameras, then Canon digital cameras, back to Canon film cameras, and now switching back and forth between digital and film.

Even LP's have made a comeback, and film is also making a comeback. I don't think phones will ever replace pro level cameras. I could be wrong.
Yes, it's a small world.
Do you know which part of Kagoshima your aunt lived in?
I could easily take some snaps there for you, if you like.
And thanks for your thoughts on the future of pro photography.

I don't think LPs are an equivalent though, because the manufacturing process is relatively simple.
R&D for cameras and lenses isn't...

...but it's an open thread.
I don't have a crystal ball.
 
Of course professional photography has a future. The term ā€œprofessionalā€ means someone who earns their living by photography. The tools that they use are largely irrelevant.

Did the advent of photography kill off artists? Did the advent of the synthesiser kill of musicians?
I like your confidence šŸ˜ƒšŸ‘

A few years ago, in POTN, there was quite a heated debate about the definition of a "pro photographer".
I think the final conclusion was that the majority of someone's income has to come from photography, for them to be able to claim the title.

My Japanese friends all fit that definition...
...and it's they who are predicting the end.
 

I've always viewed it as someone earning a living from their profession. I would never think amateurs or people with jobs earning money on the side with something like photography are not as skilled as professionals. Someone could be been fired from six roofing companies, bought their hammer, started their own company and be an awful contractor. That just distinguishes the two for me in the big picture. If someone wants to earn on the side and call themselves professionals it doesn't bother me. As long as they can do the job. It would be up to me to interview and know what I'm getting. Just like any trade.
 
It has always been hard to be a pro photographer. It is not something new. The issue goes back decades.

There are some activities that are so much fun, that people will do it for nothing. Photography is one of those activities. Being a musician is another. The pros are competing against legions of amateurs, some of whom get pretty good. It's the choice you make. You won't make much money from these vocations unless you rise to the top.

They say, Follow your dream. So you become a pro photographer. You are happy but poor. If money matters to you, it might be wiser to become a lawyer, and do photography on weekends.
 
I don't think LPs are an equivalent though, because the manufacturing process is relatively simple.
R&D for cameras and lenses isn't...

That rather depends on where you're coming from (and I don't mean Japan as opposed to the UK :)). Cameras don't start and stop with digital - other types are still made. In fact, unless the situation has changed, there are more manufacturers of large format film camera than there are of DSLRs - they just don't make as many. Mike Walker has been making large format cameras for over 30 years in the UK, and although in that time Gandolfi and (I suspect) another stopped, two more companies have started up in the UK in the last 10 years and are doing well enough to be more than a one man band.

This is off topic as not being greatly related to professional photography, although some professionals still use LF for at least some jobs. I was just making the point that camera can still be made, and probably will continue to be even if it requires downloading a plan from the internet and building your own.

The great benefit to me of LF (in terms of security of supply) is that I can if necessary coat my own plates (amateurs did it in the 19th century) and develop using items commonly found under the kitchen sink (in the UK, as least).

And, no, LF isn't for everyone. But a camera is just a tool, and I dare say a car mechanic might not find a wood saw a very useful tool. For my photography, it's the best choice.
 
It has always been hard to be a pro photographer. It is not something new. The issue goes back decades.

There are some activities that are so much fun, that people will do it for nothing. Photography is one of those activities. Being a musician is another. The pros are competing against legions of amateurs, some of whom get pretty good. It's the choice you make. You won't make much money from these vocations unless you rise to the top.

They say, Follow your dream. So you become a pro photographer. You are happy but poor. If money matters to you, it might be wiser to become a lawyer, and do photography on weekends.

Crafting is another avocation that is really tough to make money in. I scrollsaw Christmas Ornaments and it can be hard to almost give them away unless for charity. People are happy with stuff from China some of which are as good as hand made here. I have scrollsawed coins for lockets and earrings and they are a hard sell. You certainly can't make a living at it.
IMG_20211214_135303922.jpgIMG_20190217_102036771_HDR.jpg
 
Yes, it's a small world.
Do you know which part of Kagoshima your aunt lived in?
I could easily take some snaps there for you, if you like.
And thanks for your thoughts on the future of pro photography.

I don't think LPs are an equivalent though, because the manufacturing process is relatively simple.
R&D for cameras and lenses isn't...

...but it's an open thread.
I don't have a crystal ball.

No, unfortunately, I don't remember what part of Kagoshima she lived in.

Point taken on LP's vs cameras. Hopefully, camera companies stay in business if that happens. If it does happen, things come back in style.

I have seen some new commercials on TV from Canon, so they haven't given up hope yet....:)
 
Crafting is another avocation that is really tough to make money in. I scrollsaw Christmas Ornaments and it can be hard to almost give them away unless for charity. People are happy with stuff from China some of which are as good as hand made here. I have scrollsawed coins for lockets and earrings and they are a hard sell. You certainly can't make a living at it.
View attachment 3461View attachment 3462
That is REALLY cool!!!
 
"Phone cameras are killing camera sales and killing real photography". I can't agree 100% with that view. I think what you have to ask is how many people who are solely using a phone camera for photos would have bought a traditional camera to use for photos if they didn't have a phone. What phone cameras are doing is letting an additional and significant number of people enjoy taking photos. These are people who never would have done so until the phone that was already in their pocket was given a camera. Then, secondary to that, was the onset of social media and the ease of putting phone photos on social media. That was an explosion with a worldwide bang. Is phone photography not real photography? Camera people like to say the tool used doesn't matter. The location, the composition, the subject, and the lighting is photography. Phone cameras can produce very nice photos so long as you don't view them at 200% on a 65 inch monitor or don't print them overly large. No?

"Professional photographers are the people who receive money for their photos" as their sole source or at least part of their annual income. Does the definition have to be that strict? Let's say one of these working pros owns 5 acres in Texas and suddenly crude oil bubbles to the surface. He sells the land for $300,000,000 and now himself and probably his children never have to work again. But he continues making photographs just as he did before, and now gives these photos away to the same news agencies, magazines, corporations, etc. he once sold them to. His photography no longer produces income so is he no longer a professional photographer even though he can still produce the same high quality results?

While I may not have articulated this well you can see my points.
 
"Phone cameras are killing camera sales and killing real photography". I can't agree 100% with that view. I think what you have to ask is how many people who are solely using a phone camera for photos would have bought a traditional camera to use for photos if they didn't have a phone. What phone cameras are doing is letting an additional and significant number of people enjoy taking photos. These are people who never would have done so until the phone that was already in their pocket was given a camera. Then, secondary to that, was the onset of social media and the ease of putting phone photos on social media. That was an explosion with a worldwide bang. Is phone photography not real photography? Camera people like to say the tool used doesn't matter. The location, the composition, the subject, and the lighting is photography. Phone cameras can produce very nice photos so long as you don't view them at 200% on a 65 inch monitor or don't print them overly large. No?

"Professional photographers are the people who receive money for their photos" as their sole source or at least part of their annual income. Does the definition have to be that strict? Let's say one of these working pros owns 5 acres in Texas and suddenly crude oil bubbles to the surface. He sells the land for $300,000,000 and now himself and probably his children never have to work again. But he continues making photographs just as he did before, and now gives these photos away to the same news agencies, magazines, corporations, etc. he once sold them to. His photography no longer produces income so is he no longer a professional photographer even though he can still produce the same high quality results?

While I may not have articulated this well you can see my points.

I see your point.

Note to self:
Buy some land in Texas.....:unsure:
 
i don't think we'll see the death of pro's, but the way things are done will always change ... wedding photographers having to post to social media as a wedding is happening ... things like that will change the process, but someone's always going to want to hire a pro for certain things (my opinion, of course)
 
Yes, smartphone cameras do displace the need for point-and-shoots, and they greatly reduce the market volume for entry-level interchangeable lens cameras ('ILC', in industry-speak).
Yet the smartphone inherently has a number of limitations that force the continued need of dedicated cameras...
  • inability to mount 'special purpose' lenses designed for specific tasks (architecture PC, scientific/industrial purposes/military purposes)
  • artificial 'edge' enhancement always performed on images, even if not wanted
  • inability to mount on microscope/telescope or slide-copying accessory
  • high frame rate image capture
  • remotely triggered image capture
  • inability to trigger studio flash units, or higher-powered portable flash
...to name a few...IOW ill suited for 'professional' purposes. The digital camera heyday within the snapshooter community caused the market demand in the 2000's to reach heights never seen before in photography, and the unit numbers have now declined back to the much smaller volume seen during the 1990's. But I do not think that the pro photographer need goes away...yes, demand for their services will have declined significantly, but automatic cameras existed in the 1960's, displacing some of the need even back then.
 
My thoughts about the subject: "Pro photography" doesn't have a future.

My initial thought was; No, there is a future for Pro photographers.
Although the number or Professionals will decline, the number of tools they have at their disposal will be more, and therefore more divers, than they have now.
Those tools will be a mix of hardware and software.
Hardware will also include a SmartPhone, or whatever the communication device is called in the future.
Software will include Machine Learning and AI and the next step after AI.

The source remains the same: converting the image in your head to an image that others can look at.
And that process needs a certain kind of creativity that not everyone has, so a pro will still be needed.

We used to look at the image on paper (canvas). Creativity in the darkroom was needed.
Now we look at the pictures on a screen and sometimes on paper. Creativity in colorgrading is needed.
In the future we look at the pictures in a way we cannnot think of today (next level AR/VR or holographic?), and sometimes on a screen and very rarely on paper.
The Pro has to stay on top of that new tech because the majority can not or will not.

I call myself an enthousiastic amateur (hence my name) but walking around with my 1Dx and 100-400 most people call me 'the professional'.
And walking around with my Fujifilm X-T4 they ask me if I go back to old-school.

I can not call myself a professional because I know my pictures are good, but not the best.
My viewers think otherwise with their smartphone results.
I can not call myself a professional because (more than) 51% of my yearly income is not from photography.
 
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