The Evolution of the Photography Industry

One studio owner's perspective on the changing face of professional photography.

Wow, how far can that pendulum swing? A decade ago, there were two kinds of photographers - professionals (studio owners, employed photojournalists, etc), and amateurs (people who owned a 35mm camera, but usually only brought it out for vacations or family gatherings).

Today EVERYONE is a photographer. And we ALL take pictures DAILY, uploading them to facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest, Google+, or any number of blogs, websites, or photo sharing platforms.

Thanks to cell phone cameras, the human experience is being recorded faster and more thoroughly than ever before, shared by billions with a billions of other people they don't even know.

One result of the amazing increase in photo enthusiasm, is that the general population's thirst for photography has been overly quenched - damn near drowned, if you will. Who did this affect? The entire professional photographic industry, that's who.

Professional portrait studios are closing their doors at an alarming rate, while part timers who work from home are launching their photography businesses at an even faster rate. The number of those declaring themselves "professional" photographers has increased so fast in the last five years it's mind boggling. And because a great many of them never bother to register their "businesses" with the Department of Revenue (because they would have to collect sales tax), there is no accurate way to even count them all.

The generally accepted style of the day in family photography is candid, photojournalistic, and storytelling, often done on location, in a park or the beach, or even at the client's home. This bodes very well for the newcomers in the industry, as they may lack the financial capital (or desire) to open a storefront studio. Many newcomers have also hitched their style to the "all available light only" wagon (very popular), releasing them from the need to invest heavily in any expensive lighting equipment.

Photographers who've been around since the film days tend to take issue with the "all available light only" business model because they grew up in the industry when you were required to "paint with light," meaning you would NEVER show up on a portrait job armed with nothing but a camera, and just HOPE the light was going to cooperate.

Today's digital cameras are FAR better at capturing good images in lower light situations than film cameras ever were, but you still must be educated enough at your craft to recognize when the light that's available just isn't enough - and know how to manipulate it.

The upside (and there's always an upside from my perspective), is that the newcomers, armed with so little, have forced me (a studio owner) to become more knowledgeable about the technology driving my industry and require me to think like a teenager when resolving techie issues. I recognize everyone's right to make a living in this industry (although the laws of supply and demand make that virtually impossible), but I do wish that those who choose to declare themselves "professional" please do so legally and invest in both, education and the right equipment, for to do anything less is a disservice to the buying public.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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