Interesting question: how do pros view todayīs world of pictures?
I think it is difficult to do other than supply a personal, subjective response to that sort of question. As a pro - possibly one who retired too early - I think that there are two questions to address: the artistic one and the financial one.
Starting with the artistic, I think that the advent of the web has allowed pros to see much more work from other pros in their own field as well as in many different fields that they might not have otherwise noticed. This has been both good and bad: the good thing is that the more one sees the more one has available by which to measure ones own output, but, on the other hand, personal style can take a beating. In the case of fashion, the genre which, along with calendars interests me most, there is now a clear tendency to kill skin completely and make women seem fashioned from shiny plastic. This may or may not be a digital capture factor, but it is now ubiquitous and I do not like it. To me, just another illustration of the computer operator taking more away from the photographer and making things less photographic.
Photographic style is now governed very much by the availability of money: simple photographic shoots consisting of photographer and lone model seem to be but memories; teamwork is de rigueur and with teamwork comes ever more complex lighting (you have to justify the extra muscle somehow!), more people messing with the message and so it goes. As Helmut Newton said: everything is such a big deal nowadays! Clients see the new way, think it is what itīs all about and so it perpetuates itself.
Financially, I suppose that for some, the web has been a disaster waiting to happen, whilst for others a letter from God. So much choice sometimes renders work less valuable. I donīt for a moment believe that, in general, choice allows better work to command higher reward; as with the supermarket model, choice is often not choice at all when those offering that choice seem able, magically, to price within a cent of one another. Photography doesnīt allow for much loss-leading either!
Anyone having experience of stock, pre-Getty and Corbis, will know too well how painfully the web and mega agencies have impacted upon viability; there is no need for me to amplify. Suffice to say, investment in shooting people stock was always dodgy - today, suicidal!
So yes, I was a much happier professional bunny pre-web!
Ciao - Rob C