We are at a crossroads, now more than ever. At first it was just digital technology as a new way to capture light and make a picture. We all embraced it because it was no cost, no worry, shoot shoot shoot and delete later, or don’t. (Because let’s face it, we don’t delete, we just get more hard drives or up our iCloud plan.) There, done!
Then we filled computers with images like there was no tomorrow. Thousands of photos downloaded from our digital cameras. DSLRs. Point and shoots. All kinds of cameras shooting more and more megapixels. Win!
More is more. More is good.
Then phones got really good at shooting and sending a pic, and even if the form factor wasn’t very good, and the photo wasn’t as good as a camera, ah well, so what, it was good enough, and it had the added perk that it fit in our pocket and we could be sent now. No need to download to our computers. Score!
Sure, the phone manufacturers charged quite a bit for these, not to mention that computer or laptop upgrade, hard drive purchases and Photoshop software licenses, but we still felt like it was free. Yay!
And we became video producers at concerts, shooting and posting whole songs to whole shows so our friends could hear Elton sing, too. Because we can. And look where we are. Too bad for the people behind us–we’re working here. Impressive!
More is more. More is good.
And then we got computers to compute. Computational photography, we can make everything work, and everything perfect. We can fake blur the background in ‘portrait’ mode, no need for a real photographer. It’s not like they do anything more than our phones–good thing Avedon isn’t working today, that chump would be out of a job. Loser!
We can even fake videos and make it look like people saying things they never said. We have technology. We win again!
It used to be the news was a good source if information, but then we got the internet and things got a bit cloudy, lines were blurred. News outlets and not-so-trustworthy news outlets We have fake truths, alternative facts. No one knows what to believe anymore. Sucks!
So, this crossroads we’re at. Which way do we go, now? Keep heading down the same road we’ve been on since we stopped shooting film and making actual photographs? You know, those paper representations of the pictures on our phones.
The ones of grandma and grandpa that don’t need a computer to enjoy? The ones that are authentic, storytelling. That aren’t digitally altered and perfected, but just… Real!
We used to have fewer pics and we enjoyed them more. Now we have more and, oh no…
More isn’t more. More isn’t better.
We have become inundated with images that they don’t even matter. They don’t matter! Who cares? It’s not like we look at them for more than a half-second anyway. Instagram double tap–scroll, scroll, scroll, double tap, scroll, scroll. That’s what photography is now. Lame!
Phones are note-takers, and notes don’t need to be saved. Photographs used to be historical family documents, not anymore. Now, it’s where we ate, where we parked, what we drank and never see them again. Sucks!
Professionals don’t make our portraits anymore. We shoot everything ourselves, even for our businesses, since we’ve adopted a mentality that good enough is good enough. Even if it’s not, it is. Because it doesn’t cost us anything. Cheap!
What will it take to hire a pro to photograph our family? Maybe they do have something to offer that we can’t do ourselves. But the lure of free is so strong. Why pay for anything? We can put that money into more cloud storage and new phones. Score!
We’re standing at the crossroads. Which way we go will very seriously impact what photography is, what value it holds and purpose it serves. It may be the biggest challenge in its history, what it will be for. Decisions!
I know which way I’m headed–I’m photographing my family and friends on film, printing their photographs and living with them on the shelves of my home. Call me old school, I know where my photographs are and I get to see them for more than a swipe-second. Dinorsaur!
Maybe, but maybe it’s the digital photos that that will go extinct. Gone!