The State of Photography and Journalism Circa 2016 A.D.

Posted: November 20, 2016 in black and white, black and white film, family, photographer, photographs, photography, portraits, portraiture
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Photography and journalism share a similarity.  Both used to be respected and valued for their quality and integrity, and just this week, the New York Times said that on Facebook, they are treated as being equal to fake news sites, because they are both given the same credibility by the public.

20sun1-master768That is the same with photographers and the public when they hire photographers.

Photographers used to be very well respected. You’d hire a photographer for his/her knowledge on how to capture your family’s personality, your company’s specialty, or document a special event with the ability to tell that event’s story. It was not about gear, and so much more than pointing a camera. Or getting focus nailed. Photographers didn’t spray (shoot like crazy) and pray (hope they get something).  They worked with proficiency and efficiency.

Professional photographers are never about gear. Great photographers know their cameras and then get them out of the way to create meaningful images of the subjects they are hired to photograph.

Nowadays, there’s a perception that everyone’s a photographer. I disagree. Everyone has a camera. That doesn’t qualify everyone as a photographer. Everyone has a stove–that doesn’t make everyone a chef.

As a professional, often my competition is the person who got a camera for their last birthday, plays with their cameras on weekends, and the work that they do, no matter how mediocre it is, has become the accepted norm.

And it’s the desired product, since it’s cheap.

All their photos look alike–shot wide-open, toned via a computer preset with the popular look of the day. That’s the look that they’re all buying from the post-processing software gurus selling them all the same effect. That’s why they all look alike.  Have you seen wedding photographs lately?  Talk about cookie cutter.

Professional photographers know and see the difference. We know why it’s important to professionally print photos. We know that a professional photographer is much more than just a person with a camera.

We know lighting. We know how to pose to bring out your best features, to make you feel your best, so that we can best capture that personality on film.  We even know where and when to shoot, how to coordinate colors in clothing with backgrounds.  Photography is as much a psychological game as it is an mechanical one using a camera.

jkingTrue professional have never competed with the Sears and JCPenney portrait studios, who sold cheap, but were never in the photography business but rather the sales business.  I worked for them.  They gave me sales quotas I was expected to meet for print packages.  I quit within a week, and went to work for a daily newspaper.

Professionals were hired for their vision, their unique ability to use a camera to create in ways that go far beyond Photography 101.

But Photography 101 photographers are cheap. More and more of them hanging their shingle out every day, because they got a camera, and they are competing for the work that the seasoned pro used to get, and families and businesses are choosing the mediocre (and cheap) work.

That’s photography today! High quality and mediocre are both available, and people buy poor quality photos all day long.  It’s made mediocrity the norm.  I know people who say they work professionally with a phone camera.  It’s incredible.

If you are looking for quality photography locally, you have two choices:

  1. You can hire a pro, like myself, a commercial studio photographer, an award-winning, 30-year-professional photographer and experienced photojournalist who has photographed everyone from U.S. presidents and authors to rock stars and movie stars. Who has photographed for the U.S. Air National Guard, Whole Foods, WhiteWave/Silk, National Beer Wholesaler Association, American Cable Association, among others, and covered events from groundbreakings and grand openings to presidential campaigns and funerals of state officials and had his work published around the world in magazines and newspapers via the Associated Press. One who will photograph you with efficiency and give you the right number of quality photos for your needs.
  2. Or you can get a person with an automatic camera and the latest presets and will give you 1000 image files to do with as you will.

There is a difference.

twoshotbw812Who will you use for the most important subject, your family’s photographs? I am not just photographing for you, but for your children’s children. I’m creating historical documents, visual memories for future generations, legacy photographs professionally printed at a custom pro lab that will last for generations.

I don’t hand over the image files because I care that they are finished professionally and look their best.  After all, it’s my work.  Yet there are many people with cameras who will give you all the images after the shoot, saying, “Do what you want, print them at home, I don’t care.  I just like to shoot and walk away.”

bizports3Who will you hire for your business portraits and product shots?  Your customers see the difference when they see quality, even if they’re not sure why it’s better.  Quality is perceived through professional work, that’s why top companies use advertising agencies and art directors, because it ultimately affects the company’s bottom line

If you don’t see the difference between professional photography and amateurs with a camera, I can’t show you.  If you can’t feel the difference between driving a Mercedes and a Suzuki, I can’t help you.  If you think Denny’s tastes as good as a chef-prepared meal, I’ve got nothing for you.

But don’t believe you’re getting the best if you don’t hire a professional.  And likewise, don’t believe what you read on Facebook, because it really might not be real news at all, and those New York Times reporters are a lot more trustworthy, if only they could get readers to turn to them and stand out from the glut of mediocre ‘news’ sites.

The quality of photography and journalism has certainly been lowered by substandard photographers and fake journalists.  That’s the state of photography and journalism, circa 2016 A.D.

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