I’m Not Going To Say I Told You So

Click on the audio play button to listen to this 13 minute discussion on the future of photography…

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14 thoughts on “I’m Not Going To Say I Told You So

  1. I really enjoyed listening to this clip. I could not agree more with everything that you said ESPECIALLY around the 10:30 mark.

    Professional photography will never go away but you better believe it is completely changing. I am a wedding photographer myself and I have seen the guys who are unwilling to be a part of the changing market go out of business one by one.

    As professionals we have to stay ahead of everyone who takes pictures simply for fun. Clients don’t care what gear you used to take the picture, they simply want a good image. If your neighbor is capable of taking a “better” image with his cell phone and lots of Photoshop than you, you better get off your ass and learn Photoshop! We can’t lose site of the business for the love of the art.

    Simply knowing how to take a decent picture isn’t going to cut it anymore because everyone can do that. Stay ahead of the curve, become a trend setter yourself, and don’t be afraid to branch out from still pictures. Video is the next big thing, now is the time to learn it before you are too far behind to catch up.

  2. You have a lot of valid points and comments. In fact, this is exactly why I don’t put myself in competition with amateurs. They can’t do what I do and the vast majority are not willing to invest the time and resources it takes to produce fine art prints (optical or digital). My product is an actual print and always will be. I personally use medium and large format film as my capture medium because it is my preference, but my customers really don’t care what I use. They buy the final product and the web never enters into the equation. They might find me via the web but that is about it. I am able to create a certain look and feel in my work with film as well as having the ability to make very large prints and murals. Individuals, businesses, hospitals, organizations, etc all want high quality large prints to display on their walls. I am at least one guy that makes that happen. This scenario of the digital evolution in photography has played out in many other industries and a lot of lessons can be learned by studying them. Good stuff, keep it coming!

  3. As a new professional, a lot of this stuff comes to me pretty naturally, as I’m being indoctrinated into the industry in a time of intense change. I see the industry evolving above but not past print anod photojournalism quickly. I think it’s the industry vets that are having a more difficult time adapting and accepting these changes. Especially the vets that are older (my dad will kill me if he reads this) but HD video, ipad apps, digital print, interactive content, mixed media, etc are all the future… Gotta stay on your game, be prepared for change, adapt, evolve… or die. That applies to almost any business, but doubly so for photography.

    1. I agree… adapt, evolve or die. But I feel that a lot is missing in the current rush to everything digital and everything instant… somewhere in the middle is in my mind the sustainable path from not only a quality stand point but also an economic one. The best printers I know have a background in both digital and analog printing techniques… the same goes for the best shooters… I work in both world and would not have it any other way.

      Viva la Revolution- Stephen

  4. You are right on the money…..I came into the industry when I heard all of the established pros talking about this budding technology called digital. The ones who said it was “OK for a few applications, but would never push THEM out”, are LONG gone…..seems like a century ago. But I knew it was the Thing and embraced it early…….Now, I just hope I can have my mind attuned to the new Thing, whatever it is, and have the same keen foresight. As fees shrink, usage rights get WAY more competitive, and the temptation to use “the soccer mom” for even high end images, I await the blood letting and then eventual strengthening of the digital periodical market. Talent and professionalism are going to come back into vogue whenever the magazines figure out how to do digital media….
    I had to pick my jaw up off the floor at Lee’s Iphone shoot video…..it certainly DOES beg the question of how many MegaPixels are enough…..the RED system may be onto something….I have certainly already purchased Premier Pro and accompanying audio software…..I better get ahead of the young’uns that will make me the fossil they wish I already was.

    Hold on to your seats, fellas….it’s gonna get bumpy ….I hear in the next 3-5 years.


  5. Well, it does suck to sit here and think that I will be out of a job in 3 – 5 years.. LOL.

    On a serious note.. it is frustrating to watch camera manufactures keep making pro level gear cheaper etc.. and then to watch a soccer mom fumble her way around the SLR and then seals her circle of friends with “good enough”. She works the 9-5, but on the weekends could really use some extra cash etc..

    Yeah, who does not hate that?

    I agree with what Lee said.. (Hi Lee.. thanks again for shooting my wedding.. you are da bomb). For me.. I also feel a large part of what sets me apart is my style and lighting. Lighting is a bit more complex and is the foundation to what a photograph is.. and regardless if new Canon 5D III’s grew on tree’s the soccer moms still needs to learn all of that to compete with my images.. granted some will argue that her images are good enough.. and why leap to my price for me? True. They are the ones that do not reply back when I send them a pricing PDF. I see that now.. but, then there are the other 30 brides (for 2011) that sat down.. saw my beautiful work in person.. and signed a contract for thousands of dollars… I sold myself first, then my work.. and built value in what they are truly getting.

    there will ALWAYS be a higher end market.. this is where I am quickly approaching.. and I feel is really the goal for anyone looking to make some money.

    My focus is 100% weddings. Brides want the best. We all want what we can’t have… and we find a way to get it…

    When I see the iphone, ipad, and the new latest SLR camera.. it does not make me feel “Ut oh, my job is on the line”. It makes me think about other ways I can use that stuff to better what I already do… If the trend ends up being wedding photographers use iphones and ipads to make the wedding.. then I will be right there with my shiny new one.. and fancy business card.

    The iphone “fashion shoot” I was there with Lee during that shoot… in fact that was my phone in the video! I even bought the lights for that shoot.. here lays the truth with that.. IT IS IN THE LIGHTING. The iphone would have rendered pointless images in the hands of most. However, yes with the right lighting.. you can accomplish stellar results… the same image would have been seen with my 5D set to small jpeg. My point here, is that until people truly understand how photography works on all levels.. and actually take the time to dedicate to learn all of that.. there is always going to be a big curve from the people “starting out” and the serious pros with the time, energy, and experience to make something REALLY great. People will pay for that.. Same with cars.. a kia will get you there.. but most would LOVE a BMW instead. I did, and thats what I bought.. for no better reason then “I wanted one”. THIS is what will keep the business open for me, until I see everyone driving around in kia’s on their way to an iphone shoots of course…

    Somewhere in that babble I think their was a message.. LOL.

    – Travis

    1. Travis- it is like my comparison of cheap DD coffee to the great brew I roast myself at home… some people get it and will pay for the better cup… but not all of the time. The key is finding the way to market oneself successfully and to keep ahead of the curve… right now the curve is turning a bit and retro film meets digital is quite popular in a great many circles but only if you know what you are doing (this level of knowledge rules out most “soccer” photogs, and therein lies the point you made… quality first and people who want the best will pay for the best.

      Viva la Revolution- Stephen

  6. Lee’s iPhone shots are great, but let us not forget that Lee is a professional photographer. A professional is not only concerned with a final product for his customer’s sake, but also has a concern for the overall profession he or she represents and therefore will generally deliver a higher quality product.
    There will always be a need for the professional no matter how good cell phone camera’s get. Have you ever asked someone to email you a picture they shot of you with their phone? You never get it (especially if they were drunk). Pros ship!
    That being said, it is great to have powerful little cameras that fit in one’s pocket that sometimes make phone calls.

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