Photography Is Dead
So there you are, fantasizing about illusions of grandeur while working your uninspiring dead end job. Somewhere during your imaginative journey though, you strike an epiphany; A career in photography. You've been trying to figure out how to make an easier buck in life because 9 to 5 isn't cutting it. Not only do you want something that compliments your social prowess, but also allows you to achieve a more desirable lifestyle at the same time. So why not try photography?
It's brilliant, the math is simple. Everyone idolizes popular, attractive and sexy people. Being a photographer justifies your association with them. I mean, why else do you see photographers at the trendiest parties, dating hot people and hanging out with VIP? Immediately you're not concerned about never having a lesson in photography because, well, how difficult can it be to aim and press a button? Your social media is loaded with images that receives a bunch of 'likes' all the time. This naturally makes sense.
Your face smiles as your thoughts continue in glee. "What better way can someone get paid by going around partying and shooting hot people?" you ask yourself. You can strategically slip into any social crowd, party or art scene because you have the ultimate VIP pass... a camera. There's only one problem with all of this however, nearly everyone has tried this before.
So why hasn't it worked? Well, the answer is rather simple, photography is dead. But let's look at why. Real photographers… you know, the ones that majored in it in college, learning everything from its history to its philosophy, spent years studying and thousands of dollars on equipment; These are the people who learned how to photograph with poor outdated cameras but were expected to put out high-end images that were sharply graded. These are the people who were constantly critiqued by other professional photographers, professors and tested on their craft, knowledge and execution of their vision.
Their hands smelled of chemicals from the dark room while eating breakfast the next morning because they were up late the night before developing their film rolls and were too tired to shower afterwards. They've competed and struggled every step of the way while learning how to succeed in the art world by examining the legendary photographers that preceded them. They’ve interned for months in the industry just to get their foot into the door for the opportunity to shoot.
But, this is all foreign to you. Why? Because you are not a photographer. You never really cared about any of it before, so why now? Let's be honest, technology has finally arrived and made everything possible. The world is filled with smartphones, GoPros, Instagram, filters and Photoshop. The opportunity of becoming a photographer has become more accessible than ever. Unfortunately, this has led to the prostitution of what was once a pure, beautiful, inspiring and creative craft. It's nauseating in the photography world.
Thanks to easier, faster, cheaper and more available technology and social networking, everyone and their mother is now a "photographer". No school, training or work experience required. All one has got to do is simply buy the most expensive camera you can afford and watch a couple "how-to" YouTube videos and you're good to go! Take shitty pictures? No problem. Photoshop and Instagram filters got you covered.
For you it's brilliant, it even makes traditional photographers frustrated to admit that it really is. But what has happened as a result? Photographers have become a dime a dozen. The industry is over saturated with them, you see photographers everywhere. It's gotten so bad, that even employers placing job ads, for photographers, make it a point NOT to submit camera phone pictures for employment consideration. Photography has become a highly competitive industry but the jobs now go to the lowest bidder. It's no longer financially sustainable for one to live off of photography.
Furthermore, like all things, you get what you pay for. This explosion of photography everywhere has led to a loss of quality in the medium. The fine art, of the skill, has diminished to the point that what most people see these days, is porn photography. We are talking about hundreds of millions of images being taken, shared and posted on the daily basis everywhere. The reality is that nearly all of it, is forgettable. The quantity of pictures have become so enormous what makes a photograph powerful has been lost.
Do the fundamental elements of photography still exist in the photography world? Absolutely. Will anyone ever hire a traditional photographer and pay their rates? No. Why should they? People can find anyone to shoot for very little. Hell, you can do it yourself and save yourself money, if it comes down to it. But there's the rub. Anyone can aim and press a button, but very few people know how to truly capture a photograph with balanced composition, beautiful lighting and unique perception and style. It's time to ask ourselves, "What is worth more?"
Either way, the interesting thing about all this, is that time has a way of sorting out the authentic and the superficial. Real photographers are not going anywhere, they love what they do and are compelled to evolve their passion, that doesn't worry me. It’s just unsettling that they have to fight with the rest of the "photographers" out there for the limited jobs that exists while dealing with the loss of potential work to the posers. So much so, that they'll probably have to get a dead end job just to make ends meet and spend their days wondering what the hell happened to their photography career.