Is Photography a Dying Profession?

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    There are invariably going to be some negative consequences of progress. For instance, the rise of online banking and investing has caused traditional banks and investment firms to reduce the number of employees they employ. Similarly, the decline of print journalism in the newspaper industry has led traditional publishers to reduce the number of employees they employ at an alarming rate.

    FAQs About Photography

    So, What Is Happening to the Photography Profession?

    Today we have fantastic technology capable of producing increasingly sharper iPhone and point-and-shoot camera images; amateurs are capturing newsworthy events and sending them to news organisations; friends are being enlisted as wedding photographers and videographers. Most of them are not using a DSLR camera with a 70-200mm lens. They're mainly using their phones. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

    What happens if the photo does not come out the way you hoped it would? That is not a problem because the amateur photographer took ten shots of the same scene, and surely one of them will turn out to be worthwhile.

    At first glance, and without much further thought, it would appear that the profession of photography is under attack, and, just like it has happened so many times before, it will be a victim of progress. This is a prediction that can be made without much further consideration. The following is a list of some of the consequences of this "progress":

    • News organisations openly solicit amateur photographers and videographers to submit their photos and videos of events, and at the same time, they reduce the number of professional photographers on staff. According to the findings of the Pew Research
    • Center, staff reductions in newsrooms have had the greatest impact on photojournalists.
    • There is so much competition among professional photographers that some of them are forced to lower their prices to the point where they are no longer able to make a living from the industry.

    Some people believe that professional photography is under attack; they don't believe that it can withstand the onslaught and climb to new heights; however, is this actually the case?

    If someone had said around ten years ago that professional photography would die out as a result of powerful smartphone cameras and ultra-affordable cameras, professional photographers would have laughed so loudly that it could have been heard in camera shops and studios all over the world. But now we've reached a point where anyone with an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy something or other can take photographs of an exceptionally high quality.

    When you combine this with the fact that inexpensive yet powerful DSLR and Mirrorless camera kits sold at big-box retailers all seem to come with a Facebook page entitled "insert name here" photography, you can begin to understand why some people believe the role of the professional photographer may be on the verge of extinction. Come back with us after the break, when we will go over this topic in more detail.

    Late in the previous year, the website Medium Business presented an article that piqued our interest. The title of this piece is "The End of Professional Photography? The central thesis of the article is that all successful endeavours in the field of technology begin with a small group of early adopters who go on to make enormous sums of money, followed by a large group of people who buy the same technology because they want a piece of the pie, which then leads to the early adopters offering to teach the newcomers everything they know in exchange for a sum of money, and finally ending with the industry collapsing as a result of an excessive number of participants. The author draws parallels between the professional photography industry and other fields, such as desktop publishing and web development, both of which have experienced the same fate. According to him, the competition will be over as soon as people start offering services that will help teach others. Are you picking up on that odour? What is that putrid odour? I find that to be complete and utter nonsense.

    "You can hardly scroll through Facebook or watch a video on YouTube without coming across somebody advertising their unique photography course at an all-time low price; oh, and hurry now because the first one hundred people who sign up will get some free presets! Oh, boy!"

    The honest opinion of our team is that professional photography is not even close to being extinct. On the other hand, we think that professional photography is doing quite well. Never before have we witnessed a group of individuals as enthusiastic about the field in which they are working as they currently are. We have never before witnessed professional photographers being so enthusiastic about all of the wonderful new things that can be achieved with new camera technology and new lens technology.

    Professional Photography is evolving for sure, but it's not dying. Not by a long shot. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?

    Does the Lack of Clients or a Noticeable Decline in Sales Fill Your Head With Doubt?

    Is it possible that the field of photography is vanishing before our very eyes? Do you ever have days where you question why you continue to put so much effort into trying to make a living off of your photography?

    When we look around and see so many professional photographers fighting to make even the barest living, it can be difficult to believe that there is another possibility, right? Have you recently participated in any of the online photography forums, for instance?

    In that case, you might want to look into some of the ongoing conversations (which are frequently contentious) about the photography industry. It's a sure bet that somewhere in there you'll come across a lively discussion about how "photography as a business is on its deathbed."

    This article is for you if you have trouble falling asleep at night because you are anxious about how much the photography business will have changed by the time you get out of bed the next day, or if you are concerned that your customers won't pay you as much as they used to because they have been conditioned to expect low prices for photographs.

    The obvious question here is whether or not you truly believe that photography as a viable business model is on its way out.

    Is a Failed Photography Business Past Saving?

    Is Photography a Dying Profession?

    When I see so many photographers subscribing to the idea that the photography business is fading away, it honestly makes me sad. Every day, our website receives more than a few visitors who come looking for answers to questions such as "how can we save my failing photography business?" by conducting searches on Google.

    Given that their company appears to have already failed, the question seems unnecessary; however, we are left wondering what, if anything, they attempted to do in order to avert disaster prior to reaching the point where there is no turning back.

    We wish there was just one question we could put to them, and that is: "How badly did they want their business to succeed, and how committed were they to preventing failure at all costs?" Even more disheartening is the fact that a significant number of these failed professional photographers are exceptionally talented people.

    They are able to create stunning photographs and have excellent camera skills, but they are deficient in the marketing and business skills necessary to make a difference in the industry. It does not appear to be fair, but then again, fairness is not a factor in the game of business. Obviously, a do-over is always an option for anyone, and second chances are something that everyone deserves. Keeping all of this in mind, we are of the opinion that the answer to the question "can a photography business that has failed be saved?" is an emphatic "yes!"

    But, it depends on which camp you're in

    Having read through masses of comments, rants, flame-wars, and other dynamic responses on various forum and group threads on this subject, two distinctly different factions are revealed.

    They could be broadly described as this:

    • "We're all going to die… The business sector is already extinct!"
    • "Let's just get on with it – no one has to die today..." "Let's just get it over with..."

    This is such a polarising issue, and yet a razor-thin fence divides these two camps—so thin that no one even thinks about sitting on it. 

    Is There Any Salvation?

    Here's the thing about professional photographers… they're creative professionals who excel at several things:

    • They are aware of the significance of their photographs being able to convey a narrative.
    • Composition, angle, and distance are all familiar concepts to them.
    • They have a good sense of design, patterns, and visual consistency, as well as the ability to white balance.
    • They are knowledgeable about colour and colour correction, lighting, and shadows.
    • They have also embraced modern technology and the many opportunities for creative expression that it provides.

    Amateurs are capable of taking one hundred photographs of the same event. Also, thanks to digital technology, this is now possible for professional photographers. This is what many people mean when they refer to photography as being "democratised." The difference between amateurs and professionals is that amateurs will post or send a large number of them without much discrimination, whereas professionals will be selective and edit their work until they have told the story in a way that is imaginative and compelling.

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    The Role of the Photographer

    Whether you like it or not, the fundamental role of the photographer has likely undergone the most significant transformation in photography. In the past, photography was more of an artistic passion than a business, so photographers didn't spend much time worrying about things like marketing, criticism, social reach, or connecting directly with their audience. Indeed, photographers have always been expected to possess a strong command of the art of marketing their work to potential customers and advertising agencies. Nevertheless, in the wake of the wave of social media, a significant change has taken place in something. The days are long gone when a photographer was merely a member of a creative team whose sole responsibility was to operate the camera. On the other hand, the creative director and advertising agency put in a lot of effort to realise the artistic vision of the final customer.

    Photographers are being hired for their vision, their ability to operate the camera, their social reach and audience, and their capacity to manage a large team like a circus master. These factors are becoming increasingly important. It is becoming increasingly difficult for a photographer to say, "we just want to create photos," without juggling all of the other responsibilities that were traditionally delegated to other creative professionals. This is one of the reasons why the profession is becoming increasingly competitive. If one wants to be a successful photographer in this day and age, it appears that they will need their own massive social media reach more than ever before.

    In the business world, where media buyers want to cater to a rebuilt channel (the audience of the photographer), this may be necessary. It may imply that a wedding photographer needs a sizable following in order to compete with the growing number of professional photographers operating in their respective local market. There is no question that the rules of the game have been altered, and the stakes are significantly higher than they have ever been in any area of photography that you choose to pursue. The big question that we need to ask ourselves is: "is this change any different than the changes photographers' faced 30 years ago?"

    The Technical Skill Set of a Photographer

    Is there a trend towards photographers having a lower level of technical proficiency in the field of photography? This is the query that I find myself posing to others an increasing number of the time. There is no doubt that during the golden age of photography, photographers were required to master a vast array of technical skills. These skills included loading film, comprehending in minute detail how aperture, shutter speed, and film speed worked together to form exposure, developing film, achieving flash photography without seeing the image, perfecting manual focus, and being aware of which film stock to shoot on. Heaven forbid that we even consider moving into the darkroom or contemplating multiple frames of film being composited together prior to the invention of Photoshop! Even for those photographers who had no interest in the technical aspects of the medium, photography was always a highly technical art form from its earliest days.

    Everything is different now because of digital photography. You can still be as technical as you want to be, that is without a doubt possible. Despite this, my anecdotal experiences gained while working in the industry for more than 15 years now suggest that an increasing number of photographers are becoming less knowledgeable about the actual mechanics of photography than ever before. It is becoming increasingly common for photographs to be created entirely in post-production. This means that the original image that was captured by a camera may not have been of very high quality. Post-production is one of our favourite parts of the creative process, and we make extensive use of the various tools that Photoshop provides.

    Still, it feels like we've gotten to a point where the scales between photographer and digital artist have tipped, causing most of the imagery we see to be more digital art than actual photography. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.

    Will Technology Adversely Affect the Gear We Use?

    Is Photography a Dying Profession?

    The gear, which many of us adore and treasure, is the last aspect of all of this that needs to be taken into consideration. As a result of technological advancements, the instruments that artists use to create their work are constantly evolving across all creative disciplines. There are only a small number of people who are still constructing businesses around darkrooms. Synchronization cables have been replaced by radio waves. LED lights have almost completely supplanted traditional incandescent bulbs. The mirrors in our DSLR cameras appear to be on their way out, and we are confident that the shutter will be the next component of our camera to become obsolete. While all of this is taking place to our actual tools of the trade, the technology that we use to process our images is continuously improving.

    Every three months, we come across articles that discuss how major camera manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, and even Sony are experiencing declining sales of their DSLR cameras. Some people may argue that this is because mirrorless cameras are eating into the market share of older technologies such as single-lens reflex cameras; however, we believe that something even more significant is taking place. As a growing number of people in the general population switch to using the camera on their mobile phones, we believe that overall camera sales are in danger.

    The Light at the End of the Tunnel

    The fact that more people can take pleasure in the world of photography now than in the past is possibly the most significant bright spot that can be found in all of this. Now, than ever before, a greater number of individuals can make money and build careers out of photography. Better and more creative visuals are being published online and printed off through more conventional channels of advertising than at any other time in history. It is mind-boggling to take a look at the photographs that have received the highest ratings in the community and consider the number of those images that would not have been created if we were all required to adhere to the conventional photography rules.

    The purpose of rules is always to be broken, and waves of innovation will invariably and persistently challenge the status quo from one generation to the next. Perhaps there is room to uphold the values of traditional photography while at the same time embracing the originality and inventiveness of contemporary approaches to the medium.

    What are your thoughts? Do today's photographers need a significant number of followers in order to compete for jobs that were previously held by photographers who came before us? Is it becoming increasingly difficult to "get it right in camera," and if so, does it even make a difference if this skill set is lost? Are traditional photography businesses, such as those that manufacture cameras, lenses, and lighting equipment, going to face new competition as a result of the fact that mobile phones and software are making it easier and more convenient to create incredible images?

    Apply the same line of thinking to professional photography, but alter the parameters of the exercise just a little bit. You can teach someone how to operate a camera and instruct them on the "rule of thirds," and without a doubt, they will be able to take pictures that are both aesthetically pleasing and technically proficient. To create an image, to be able to capture emotions, and to be able to tell a story with a single photograph takes a true creative, a professional photographer with a vision.

    The ability to convey a story or message with an idea cannot be taught; it comes from within, which is why professional photography will never die. Anyone with any camera can take a picture, but not just anyone can create an image that makes people stop, think, and feel. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

    Bottom Line

    Maintain your authenticity, be aware of your value, keep your creative juices flowing, effectively market yourself, and sell your photographs rather than assuming that professional photography is no longer viable. Your company will be successful despite the abundance of pretenders in the area who offer photo shoots at absurdly low prices. Contrary to what is suggested in the article on Medium Business, professional photography is not in its final stages of existence anywhere in the world. If you give up the fight, it may hunger for you, but if you keep on fighting the good war, professional photography will do right by you. Believe me, if you give up the fight, it may hunger for you.