“Photography is dead”.
These were supposedly the last words of the fashion photographer Bruno Sabastia before committing suicide according to the model Caroline Madison. Prior to his untimely death Sabastia had talked about how much he despised the new upcoming wannabe photographers. Those who steal work from real professionals, those who cut their prices and were even ready to work for free because they were so eager for exposure. Since digital photography had appeared, claimed Sabastia, everyone can call him or herself a photographer and produce “worthless s**t”.
So, is photography really dead, are we all photographers now and is the profession of the photographer going the same way as wheelwrights and bus conducters?
On the surface the answer is obviously no, there are more outlets for photography today than there ever has been before. Just take a trip to your local newsagents to see the vast array of magazines they stock all crammed with photographs; and that’s before you look at the internet. The issue here is clearly not that there are no opportunities for photographers but that the number of photographers chasing those opportunities is growing enormously. Certainly the way digital photography has allowed for a photograph to be made and then published within seconds has contributed to this. So too has the willingness of people to accept cheap (or even free) images. For a nice summary of the vicious cycle this creates see this graphic at the fotoseeds website.
As Hugh Macleod says
“the fact is, anyone can make something cheaper and faster than you. But not everyone can care as much as you about the stuff that matters”.
This to me really sums it up, today more than ever you have to differentiate yourself from the competition by showing you actually care about your client. It’s no longer enough to turn up with a camera, take a few shots and disappear you need to ensure the whole experience is exactly what the client wants so they come back for more and pay prices that give you a viable, and thriving business. Technology, specifically social networking, helps here enormously. Never before have we had such an opportunity to connect, share and collaborate with our fellow photographers. Photographers need to be savvy in all aspects of social media to take advantage of these opportunities, it’s no longer just about the photograph.