The Million Deaths of Professional Photography

There’s a couple items in my social network feeds about the death of professional photography.

One is Marissa Mayer’s idiotic quote:  “There is no such thing, really, as professional photographers… everything is professional photographers.”

That mangled syntax may reflect the way her brain collapsed under incorrect assumptions.  Because I don’t know any commercial photoshoot that could function completely on mobile device images.  Or print magazine like W or Vogue or Arizona Highways or National Geographic that would accept mobile device images.  Or scientific or medical or forensic outlets that would use cell phones for their imaging needs.  Or ANY sports photographer, or on and on and on.

Or jpgs that have remotely the same quality and uses as RAW data.  Or movies shot on ipads and cell phones that look remotely like video shot with interchangeable lenses meant for specific effects, like the epic wide angle Steven Spielberg imagery or the uncomfortable closeness that Darren Aronofsky’s telephoto work does.

It’s astonishing that a CEO of a tech company would be so clueless as to the wide array of photography.

But I will give her credit for, several years too late, revising flickr from the absolute mess it was.  Here’s a bit of the press conference showing the old flickr and it’s revised state.

The second bit was a quote from an upcoming book Who Owns The Future by Jaron Lanier.

“Here’s a current example of the challenge we face…At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”

Well, Kodak isn’t Instagram, and they don’t make the same products- Instagram is better compared to Lomo, because their product is similar.  To say Instagram is the “face” of digital photography is pure hyperbole.  More like “it’s a significant tool used by amateur photographers for social networking and creative purposes.”  See above how useless it is for professional photography purposes.  If anyone is the “face” of digital photography it would be Adobe, and Canon, and Nikon, and RED, Sony, Fuji, Olympus etc. way before Instagram.  But the author wanted to make a comparison and drew a line from A to X ignoring what was in betwixt.  Or rather, he knew nothing about the photographic world.

And why is Kodak bankrupt?  Because they fucked up.  They made the same stuff without adapting for the future and when they did invest in new tech, like Advantix, it was stupid.

I really don’t want there to be any mistaking this post as a rant against mobileography- in fact I am heavily in favor of anything that helps people foster a love of photography, express themselves, get images of their lives out to the greater world (for example, Syria).  But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that autotuned vocals makes everyone into Pavarotti.


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I'm a multimedia artist in Phoenix, AZ. Main Site - Instagram @primordialcreative + twitter @dbmillerphoto

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