Editors Believe Smartphones Won’t Affect Future of Photography
I read an article today that said staff photographers at newspapers/publications cannot be replaced by smartphones because photographers are needed for great photos as much as journalists are needed for reporting.
This article comes on the heels of Sports Illustrated laying off all their staff photographers this past January, and the Chicago Sun-Times laying off their entire staff of photographers in May 2013, in favor of utilizing freelancers to capture photos and videos.
While smartphones have changed the landscape of photography, they’re on the verge of killing the once flourishing market of point-and-shoot cameras. Time magazine published an article entitled: “You’ll Never Buy a Point-and-Shoot Camera Again,” that suggests the reason smartphones are winning is because of a paradigm shift in how people are using photography. They contend that smartphones picture quality rivals a point-and-shoot camera, but the paradigm shift is really the connectivity to share it with your network/friends that makes it more desirable.
The digital landscape of photography is really up in the air right now it seems, and most people think they know where it’s going to land. This, to me, is merely speculation that equates to a stock broker that thinks/says they truly understand and can predict what the stock market is going to do — not possible unless you are Gordon Gekko.
I think the real issue is photographers are already fighting to make a living in a market that catered to the consumer/prosumer crowd during the last decade, instead of focusing on the professional market. Luckily, camera companies innovated and came out with more affordable DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and DSLR video, and realized that this was going to be a fight for their survival and relevancy, too. They are seeing some of its backlash now with the decline of point-and-shoots and the proliferation of smartphones to every corner of the world.
Smartphone to Take Over the World?
Like most journalists, I’m going to speculate something of my own: The idea of a photographer being a full-time staff will be extinct in favor or hiring freelancers. Do I support this?
No, but I understand why. Like a lot of journalists and magazine editors were laid off during the recession, I was forced to try new things and find a new way to make a living. I suppose when you look at it, it wasn’t fair, but the Lost Decade took a crap on a lot of people and generations — young, middle-aged, and older — regardless of their lot in life.
Unfortunately it has always been a feast or famine world, and digital imaging has made it so that only the best will survive (enterprising professional photographers). Photographers have had to become more independent and less reliant on the “steady paycheck,” and have to make their own opportunities happen by marketing their services.
This is the world that we now live in, but that’s not to say that the economy won’t sky rocket back up and return some semblance of equilibrium to the wealth gap in America. I won’t hold my breath for that, but I will keep my love and curiosity for photography open, and hope that it will still be a viable profession 100 years from now. I don’t bet on the stock market, and I don’t know what the future holds for photography, but I still like to take quick photos with my iPhone.
I agree with the editors of the Daily Nebraskan, who feel they can’t be replaced. Photographers are irreplaceable, but to a corporation, profit is king.
If you don’t agree with me, I would love to hear what you have to say. Email me at email@example.com, or leave me a comment.