Photographers are becoming obsolete, unless …

How we are becoming obsolete

Professional photographers are becoming increasingly obsolete because their work is becoming a commodity. In addition, technological advances have made it easier for one to take a photograph. For example, Facebook’s photo collection already has a staggering 140 billion photos, over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.

Let’s look at some of the advances in photography:

    • Autofocus
    • Auto Exposure
    • Auto Image Stabilizer
    • Auto ISO
    • Auto red-eye reduction
Increasingly we are seeing photography becoming driven by algorithms. These advances in camera technology are giving photographers more images that are pretty acceptable.

When I teach photography, many students ask me to tell them which button to push. So now we are hearing more about which app to use on their phone to make it all happen for them.

No longer is photography intimidating for the masses, but relatively easy to produce an image. Kodak’s founder George Eastman created the slogan, “You press the button, we do the rest.”

When he said this, producing a print you can hold and cherish forever was pretty challenging. However, the consumer can now press the button and see it immediately.

CPI, which ran the photo studios in Sears, Walmart, and Babies “R” Us, closed on April 5, 2013, after 60 years in business. However, you could get a portrait done for $9.99 plus prints, so these prices didn’t put them out of business; instead, people didn’t need help making portraits as in the past.

In the LA Times, I thought these statements were telling:

“The whole digital world has changed everything so much,” said Chris Gampat, editor in chief of photography blog the Phoblogapher. “People are very happy taking pictures of themselves with their iPhones and putting them on Instagram and sharing them instantly on Facebook and Twitter.”

Gampat, 26, also said that more consumers are buying the digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, cameras once used nearly exclusively by professional photographers for top-quality images.

Consumer Demand has changed

Photographers need to understand the marketplace as much as they know to survive. Consumers of professional photography in years past have not stopped enjoying pictures. They no longer pay photographers to produce them when they can do it themselves.

How photography looked years ago for the professional.
How many think photography is today

The example assumes that while many people are now taking photos, the number of those making a good living is about the same.

I no longer believe that is the case. On the contrary, I think the number of professionals making a living is also shrinking.
Tips on how to avoid becoming obsolete
Today, people are letting technology handle so much of the process that we have diminished our observation, creativity, and interpretation abilities.

Pictures without context and compassion are dull.

Photographers must work even harder than in the past to survive. They must constantly observe, work on their creativity, and interpret situations to outperform the logarithms of today’s modern cameras.
You cannot make a full-time living today as a photographer because you know how to use camera gear to produce an image. Therefore, you must be offering something more.
  1. Produce images that auto everything camera cannot
  2. Become a hybrid photographer. Hybrid is where you combine other skills to create a package. This might be writing, video, audio, web design, or something that moves you from just pictures to a box.
  3. Consider working with other professionals to create packages. Maybe you need to delegate some of the pieces of projects to other professionals. Maybe work with a writer, video editor, or someone else and offer something you cannot do alone together.
  4. Become an expert on something other than camera gear. If you are an expert on a subject, then you can use your photography to help you carve a career in that subject matter using photography. A great example of this is Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who did a great deal of photography and film due to his knowledge of marine biology.
  5. Be a lifelong learner. An unquenchable thirst for knowledge will drive you to seek new ways to communicate using visuals. Being a lifelong learner may lead you to be not a follower but an innovator.
  6. Workshops and seminars. It would be best if you continued to go to venues exposing yourself to what is going on in the field of photography and outside of photography in your niche.
  7. Create your projects. To get that first paying gig, you had to have a portfolio. To continue to propel your career, you must always create a new portfolio. You will seldom have the opportunity to develop a new approach for a client. They tend to hire you based on what you have produced.

You may think of more things to keep your career moving forward. But, unfortunately, when you stop growing is the day you start dying.

Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

God reveals Himself to the world through His work. Through natural revelation, God’s existence is made known to every person on earth. Thus, work shows something about the one doing the work. It exposes underlying character, motivations, skills, abilities, and personality traits.

Ephesians 4:28

… let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Work is done not just to profit the worker but others, according to the Bible. Therefore, we need to do work that is not just for us but for those we serve through our photography.