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Author Topic: what the hell is happening?  (Read 12514 times)

fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« on: May 15, 2010, 04:31:21 AM »

I'm worried.

What is happening to ( a part of ? ) professional photography?
[attachment=21995:302.jpg]

Many doubts and questions are emerging in my mind since I joined this forum.

I see very experienced, word class studios, famous photographers talking about their working environment
and the image I have in my mind is like the one I attached here.

For example, at the beginning when I was reading the BC's posts about tethering, softwares etc...
I really thought he was exagerating the all panorama, like if it was a kind of idiosyncrasy of his peculiar personality,
or that he was overstressed by too much work.
But more I read this forum, more I realise that the BC's posts (and others) are actually describing accuratly the
current situation.

It is a bit scarry to see that at this level of pro, the pressure now seems to be really a big deal.
I don't remember in film age that things where happening in such a way.
Photographers were having fun, now it seems that they paddle 15 hours a day each time for less incomes and more pressure.
What the hell is happening in this profession and in the industry in general?

Remember the Bcooter, Gwhitf, Pschefz, Rob, Tmark's posts and many more and the overall sensation is quite depressing to be honest.
I'm not talking about the inner creativity, but about the changes that have, and are happening in this part of the professional photography
since digital showed-up.

I thought that a respected an established photographer, could at least have owned the privilege to have certain "rights", at least
peace of mind, but your regular posts here are not describing such a situation.
Don't know what would think about all that Avedon in his rest, but it looks that we are far away from pleasures, fun, respect etc...

Some always describes the 60-70' as a golden age for the profession. I have to admit that many times I thought that was
more looking with nostalgy to a remote ideal past and that the reality was not that bad, but my sensation now is changing.

Seems that video is also changing the all game and that you have to do it like it or not.

What the hell is happening?
Like this world is under cocaine and whatever name, experience, and genious you can have, you'll end like these people
on the attached picture.

Is the situation really that bad?



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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2010, 04:57:51 AM »

Quote from: KLaban
I too am worried. What the hell is happening to the Medium Format / Film / Digital Backs – and Large Sensor Photography Forum?
Klaban,

I think a debate about the changes and panorama of the craft is not out of forum. It may not please you but we are in a democracy and not all the threads will interest or please you I'm afraid.

You may find no sense to this, but I do. I put this thread here, because it is precisely here that I read the most about stress, speed, unstability etc...
I'm not saying that, but the professionals from this forum part yes are transmiting many times such situations.

Logically, I'd like to know what is happening.

Regards.
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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2010, 05:31:14 AM »

Quote from: KLaban
fredjeang, don't worry your head about pleasing me.

There is of course a time and a place for discussing these issues, or rather, there should be.

A coffee corner for working togs and or serial curmudgeons, perhaps?
My first idea was to put that thread in the cofee corner, wich is more appropriate for these kind of debates.
But the forum where users are transmiting most the sensations I described in the OP is this one.

I'm interested to hear people experiences that are working in an high-end pro environment, and they are here
and probably won't even look into the coffee corner.

Strictly talking, my OP is out of forum in a way, not that much in another way.
So it's always a matter of choice.

I've read many times how BC points that the profession have changed completly in the last years, and
(but that's my interpretation) not specially in a friendlier way. Many more pointed the same fact.
I'd like to hear from them, having more informations about how they experienced these changes
and what's the reality now.
I don't think these questions are so useless and so much out of MF forum, IMO.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 06:02:13 AM by fredjeang »
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michele

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2010, 06:05:31 AM »

Well i think this is a very interesting thread! I feel the same about aour profession. I can speak about the situation here in Italy. I work mostly with adv agencies.
I think now there is a big nosense, the adv, the clients, the photographers and so on, don't know what to do. There is a lot of confusion, mainly from the internet. We are in the middle of a revolution, but i really don't know where this revolution is taking us. Video seems to be the future, but outside is full of people that do video as good as we do photographs and they are in bad situations too. A canon 7D is not going to resolve all the cost of a good video production. I'm learning video, but i'm a photographer, not a videomaker. I think one of the biggest problem is internet. Many clients tell me: " i want to invest in the internet". Ok, but how? Internet is a mess!!! You have to own a website, but you have to take people to your website, and make adv on internet is more expensive by far then magazine, newspaper and tv! Another point is the global crisis. Before the clients paid 10, now they have only 1 and there will always be somebody that will make the job for 1. Now, also the big adv and the big photographers are working for 1. So, you have to run faster in order to get the job. You have to take the photo, retouch it, run viedo, post, do everything in 6 hours and ask 0,5. And this is one way revolution, no coming back. Sad future for us...

fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2010, 06:27:40 AM »

Quote from: michele
Well i think this is a very interesting thread! I feel the same about aour profession. I can speak about the situation here in Italy. I work mostly with adv agencies.
I think now there is a big nosense, the adv, the clients, the photographers and so on, don't know what to do. There is a lot of confusion, mainly from the internet. We are in the middle of a revolution, but i really don't know where this revolution is taking us. Video seems to be the future, but outside is full of people that do video as good as we do photographs and they are in bad situations too. A canon 7D is not going to resolve all the cost of a good video production. I'm learning video, but i'm a photographer, not a videomaker. I think one of the biggest problem is internet. Many clients tell me: " i want to invest in the internet". Ok, but how? Internet is a mess!!! You have to own a website, but you have to take people to your website, and make adv on internet is more expensive by far then magazine, newspaper and tv! Another point is the global crisis. Before the clients paid 10, now they have only 1 and there will always be somebody that will make the job for 1. Now, also the big adv and the big photographers are working for 1. So, you have to run faster in order to get the job. You have to take the photo, retouch it, run viedo, post, do everything in 6 hours and ask 0,5. And this is one way revolution, no coming back. Sad future for us...
Well, the situation you describes is very similar here.
What catch my attention as you point, is that photographers are starting to get really hard times, but video-makers as well. In the recent months, I know some important adv agencies that have fired 80% of the staff. Creatives, designers, AD etc...all these are now on the street market ready to work for much less as free-lance.
But the important agencies also are cutting their prices down. It looks that they ask for more skills, more professionalism but much much less payed.

Michael Reichmann was pointing that convergence (photo-video) will be the clew, but I have the sensation that there are many more factors that are involved and as you point, the future seems pretty dark. Maybe it's new way of doing, thinking etc...
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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2010, 06:39:22 AM »

Quote from: KLaban
I'm not denying this is an interesting subject; I'd just like to see a dedicated place where issues pertaining to professional photography practices can be discussed and archived rather than having them buried here.
This has been asked several times in Lu-La since I joined. It seems that it lacks a special forum dedicated to what you just pointed.
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michele

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2010, 06:43:43 AM »

Fred, you are absolutely right! Perhaps this is the situation here in Europe. Maybe in America is different. But, look, i also work as retoucher. 95% of my work is Photoshop. If i did'nt use photoshop noboby would call me. right now i'm working on an image that comes from imagebank; will be a beautiful adv and the photo was taken with a Sony DSC-N2. I don't even know wich kind of camera this is. For now i'm not going to cut my prices. I'm 25, just started this job 2 years ago, every month i push up my prices. We have to chin up, if we can do the job for 1 now, tomorrow we will can't do the samo for 10

fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2010, 06:59:19 AM »

Quote from: michele
Fred, you are absolutely right! Perhaps this is the situation here in Europe. Maybe in America is different. But, look, i also work as retoucher. 95% of my work is Photoshop. If i did'nt use photoshop noboby would call me. right now i'm working on an image that comes from imagebank; will be a beautiful adv and the photo was taken with a Sony DSC-N2. I don't even know wich kind of camera this is. For now i'm not going to cut my prices. I'm 25, just started this job 2 years ago, every month i push up my prices. We have to chin up, if we can do the job for 1 now, tomorrow we will can't do the samo for 10
I agree, that's my philosophy too.

But what caught my attention a lot recently here, is that very well established pros are having very stressed time too. I mean, it just does not happen only in our lower levels.

When you think about it it's non sense. Super pros who have been working all their life with their guts, as Guy pointed somewhere else, tons of experience, skill etc...completly stressed by AD or so and under pressure for less and less incomes? If this is not a mad world how to call it then.

I mean, if I'm a young and inexperienced photographer and want to make myself a place, such a level of stress is understandable. But I have a lot of problem to understand that on top level pros.

The thing is that ADs (at least the one that I've been meeting so far here), are each time younger, inexperienced and proportionally arrogants. Don't know how is the situation in the US, but really things are changing, and they are changing fast.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 06:59:56 AM by fredjeang »
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ced

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2010, 07:03:34 AM »

Modern Times as depicted by Charlie Chaplin is finally catching everyone napping.
A few years ago the first macs put typographers out of work that put type setters out of work and so on.
Like scanner operators were put out of work by digital cameras etc. etc.
Every tom, dick and harry has a camera and the people that run the ad agencies know near nothing anymore and think all images can be found in the image banks.
I think you have to adjust your business and do more of a varied mix of photography, video including 3D etc.
Some times you have to drop the price to keep the wheels turning and be in the face of the people who have the work to give out.
Be fast but above all the best in your area and you will manage in the end. Good Luck!   Happy Rowing!
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feppe

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2010, 07:03:57 AM »

Quote from: fredjeang
This has been asked several times in Lu-La since I joined. It seems that it lacks a special forum dedicated to what you just pointed.

The dedicated forum is right here.

fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2010, 07:14:47 AM »

Quote from: feppe
The dedicated forum is right here.
No Sir. The majority of the people that are concerned by this thread do not read neither are active in the coffe corner.
I've decided to put this thread here for reasons that I considered oportunes, and the only one who have the hability to decide are the
administrators. If they decide that this thread should be closed or moved because out of the right forum, I'll accept their decisions.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 07:16:54 AM by fredjeang »
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jotloob

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2010, 07:43:51 AM »

Quote from: fredjeang
I'm worried.

What is happening to ( a part of ? ) professional photography?
[attachment=21995:302.jpg]

Many doubts and questions are emerging in my mind since I joined this forum.

I see very experienced, word class studios, famous photographers talking about their working environment
and the image I have in my mind is like the one I attached here.

For example, at the beginning when I was reading the BC's posts about tethering, softwares etc...
I really thought he was exagerating the all panorama, like if it was a kind of idiosyncrasy of his peculiar personality,
or that he was overstressed by too much work.
But more I read this forum, more I realise that the BC's posts (and others) are actually describing accuratly the
current situation.

It is a bit scarry to see that at this level of pro, the pressure now seems to be really a big deal.
I don't remember in film age that things where happening in such a way.
Photographers were having fun, now it seems that they paddle 15 hours a day each time for less incomes and more pressure.
What the hell is happening in this profession and in the industry in general?

Remember the Bcooter, Gwhitf, Pschefz, Rob, Tmark's posts and many more and the overall sensation is quite depressing to be honest.
I'm not talking about the inner creativity, but about the changes that have, and are happening in this part of the professional photography
since digital showed-up.

I thought that a respected an established photographer, could at least have owned the privilege to have certain "rights", at least
peace of mind, but your regular posts here are not describing such a situation.
Don't know what would think about all that Avedon in his rest, but it looks that we are far away from pleasures, fun, respect etc...

Some always describes the 60-70' as a golden age for the profession. I have to admit that many times I thought that was
more looking with nostalgy to a remote ideal past and that the reality was not that bad, but my sensation now is changing.

Seems that video is also changing the all game and that you have to do it like it or not.

What the hell is happening?
Like this world is under cocaine and whatever name, experience, and genious you can have, you'll end like these people
on the attached picture.

Is the situation really that bad?


Yes , I do believe , that it is even worse ! ! !

I recently read an interview in the german magazine PROFIFOTO about exactly the topic which is given here in this thread.
The interview was with Rene Staud from the Rene Staud Studios here in Germany .
Rene Staud is a world well known professional car photographer . I know him personally and I believe , that he is always ahead of the current situation in his mind and his work .
Unfortunately , the interview is in german language only and I feel unable to translate .

But the excerpt of that interview is , CGI is "ante portas" . CGI is not new , but will develop very fast .
ADOBE is working on that topic as well .
CGI stands for Computer Generated Imaging . That will make many photographers jobs obsolete but also create new jobs with tasks we do not properly know yet .
It also will have effects on camera development and production including digital gear .
It will not happen tomorrow , but if you look at the speed of the development of digital photo gear for the last five or six years , then you can imagine CGI is not far away from today .

Jürgen

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SeanBK

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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2010, 08:00:40 AM »

I don't think this is anomaly just for our "Photography Business", but this happens to ALL businesses. Everything evolves, what is a need, want & a perfect business model, changes & is no longer exists. Don't get me wrong the need & want still will be there but it will be supplied by a different more efficient, economical source, who ever is the leader of the pack will be tomorrow's Apple, Nike... It used to be a business/skill set could survive multi generations, then it became one generation life span & now in one's life time one probably will have to change more then once their service field & thus modus operandi. World is moving rather fast & responding/adopting quickly.
  And that is life. Exactly like original photo of Charlton Heston conveys, paddle faster, if not someone else will take your place.... so they too can go around in circles. Yes, this is subject for a Cappuccino Corner...Capiche!!! I do sympathise with your P.O.V
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 10:25:55 AM by SeanBK »
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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2010, 08:42:04 AM »

Quote from: SeanBK
I don't think this is anomaly just for our "Photography Business", but this happens to ALL businesses. Everything evolves, what is a need, want & a perfect business model, changes & is no longer exists. Don't get me wrong the need & want still will be there but it will be supplied by a different more efficient, economical source, who ever is the leader of the pack will be tomorrow's Apple, Nike... It used to be a business/skill set could survive multi generations, then it became one generation life span & now in one's life time one probably will have to change more then once their service field & thus modus operandi. World is moving rather fast & responding/adopting quickly.
  And that is life. Exactly like original photo of Charlton Heston conveys, paddle faster, if not someone else will take your place.... so they too can go around it circles. Yes, this is subject for a Cappuccino Corner...Capiche!!! I do sympathise with your P.O.V
Yes and no.

I totally agree with Klaban: it lacks a dedicated section to professional photography.
The thing is, as I said before, my first idea was to put that thread in the coffee corner.

But my OP is aimed towards high-end or very experienced pro daily rutine. How they actually live these changes in their work and what are the consequences, their vision etc...
By the way, it is their regular posts that I read here that made me writte this topic, because they express their concerns. If I read these concerns here, it is logical that I asked the question here. Everyone is invited of course, but it results that, despite being a general topic, I wanted to have also these photographers opinions, and we know more or less who they are, and I rarelly saw them, if never in the coffee corner.

If you want to know what the daily rutine of the fisherman is, you have to ask the fisherman, and for that, you have to ask where the right boat is.
even if they told you that the port is located in another place.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 08:51:53 AM by fredjeang »
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PdF

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2010, 09:00:49 AM »

I agree with the general feeling of incomprehension and doubt. What is the future of the high-level professionnal photography ? Nobody knows it. The costs of the professionnal high-end material is more and more expansive. And there is no more place to take time to work with the beter aspirations to the quality. We have to work faster and faster, in bigger and bigger quantities, by forgetting the quality. Because the depreciation of the equipement became impossible.

The place to speak about it is convenient. Where to find a place where discuss professional photographers?

PdF

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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2010, 09:18:29 AM »

Maybe this profession would need a sort of international organism that fight for their rights (and duty).
It does exists for plane pilots, doctors etc...
Why not?
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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2010, 11:18:48 AM »

Great! they created a sub-forum dedicated!!
Many Thanks
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James R Russell

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2010, 12:12:34 PM »

I think this is a relevant place for this topic, because this section is semi-dedicated to the most expensive and singular use still cameras produced.  

The market for those cameras has historically been professional photographers, so it makes sense this is a place for a professional discussion.  Now with stuff like PODAS that doesn't seem to be exactly the case, or the sole directive of the camera makers marketing plan, but  they wanna sell stuff and I don't blame them for exploring every market.

I actually would like to see this section include video production, just because it has become part of our professional life.  I've shot video in combination with our still photography for years and though I don't see it as the end all and savior of the industry, I do see it as another service to sell, another medium to tell a story and actually find it quite interesting.

Without boring everyone, including myself the simple answer is the economy is in a severe world wide downturn.  No sector is immune, (except government executives and wall street) and the only reaction to this type of economy is to do more, offer more, get better.

That or get gone.   We all know this.

Then again a lot of this industry has always been about smoke and mirrors.  I get around to a lot of places, here a lot of stories and once you open the hood, you realize it's not always what it seems to be. Some photographers under the radar do better than you would think, some over the radar do worse.

Some photographers made their money as doctors, then became very good photographers, some have trust funds that are loaded with gold and lost it all, some began their life and career sleeping in their cars, using broken cameras and $50 lights and moved upward to do very well.  None of this really matters as long as the imagery they produce is good.    That's the only definition, to shoot damn good.

Lately I'll admit all the talk about doom and gloom effects me, hell it effects everyone in every industry, but if I've learned anything in my life, it's not to worry about what other's do, just do the best that I know how to do, in the way I know how to do it and try not to let the noise effect me.  The last one is difficult, but for everyone that can't succeed, someone always does.  That's the message I've always told myself.

As far as hard work, 14 hour shoot days, I have no problem with that, because I like to work, am compensated well and if I have to throw some sweat equity at it, it's not big deal.    Also when I work, I work with my partner, our crew, who are my friends, people I respect and spending 14 hour days in that environment is not a chore.

If I've given the impression that I work hard . . . then that's correct.   If I give the impression that I don't enjoy working hard, even have fun at working hard,  then I miscommunicated.

I also have to stay away from the pundits that keep telling us where the industry is going, because I've yet to hear a clear cut, real world answer of how the web will become the all encompassing advertising/editorial vehicle.   There is still room and growth in traditional media, even expansion of their markets through the web.  Heck, terrestrial radio is in a resurgence and I just saw a figure that 95% of all Americans tune in to some kind of radio station daily, whether it be in their car, or on the web.  That's interesting in the fact that one or  the earliest forms of "modern" media is showing growth.

I've gone through everything everyone else has.   First it slows up some and you get that kind of sick feeling in your stomach, then you complain about what's being demanded, then you just realize hey, nobody told me life was going to be easy, so you roll up your sleeves and hit it.

I've also come to the realization that It's none of my business if the New York Times or Forbes loses 20 million a quarter, or makes 50 million a year.  My role is to shoot the most compelling images I can given the subject, budget,  circumstance, deliver the imagery and go on with my life.  After a photo, a video, leaves my hands, it really is none of my business anymore, other than I hope it has success for the people that pay me.

I think I know that the web can make photography (or if you want to call it image creation) more viable and open up more opportunities for editorial and advertising to reach a world wide market.  What use to be a local magazine can have a world wide following.  What use to be a small confectionary shop in the East Village can now go international.   It's the same for our industry, it's the same for this website and forum.

Now the real bottom line is why I did this gig in the first place.  It wasn't to get rich, (though I've always made a good living), it wasn't to get famous as I have no desire for anyone to really know me.  In fact the only reason I've ever advertised, printed a portfolio,  built a web site, entered a competition, is because those are standard vehicles for getting your name out and getting work.  The only reason I ever moved from Texas to Chicago, Chicago to SF, SF to LA, LA to NY is to keep things fresh, but most importantly keep what's in front of my lens interesting.

In reality, I wish I had started my career under a pseudonym, maybe a name like B. Cooter, then I could have a separate, non photographic life under my real name.

I did this gig because I fell in love with the photograph, later became a business person so I could work, talk and communicate in a professional manner and I'm under no illusions (never have been) that this is anything but one of the world's  most difficult industries to have success.

To me those last 7 words are a positive reason to become a photographer, not a negative.

Technology hasn't changed that, in fact though there are more photographers than ever before, there is also more places to run our photographs than ever before, more clients to present to.  The trick is learning how to get compensated for it and if you keep moving forward, keep pushing those times will come.  Of this I have no doubt.

JR

P.S.   I've been working on this personal series about everyday workers.   I've shot still and video and the stories are fascinating and inspiring when you ask this simple question, "detail your working day".

Everyone is effected by the economy, everyone is working harder for the same or less, everyone, is doing their best to keep their spirits high, provide for their families and make the best of the situation.  Professional photographers are no more immune to this than anyone else and maybe I'm naive, (actually I know I'm NOT naive), but I believe in the end everything works out even better than before.

We can look at the changes as a negative or embrace the positive.  I know that sounds like some kind of corny line from an Ipad ad but let's get real, I'm writing on a computer, not a yellow pad, I'm sending this out to thousands not dozens and I'm sharing my thoughts with people I hope are willing to share back.

P.S.S.

About 8 years ago I was in a lab in LA and a photographer I knew was working behind the counter.  He said the business had changed, he didn't want to do it anymore, had a whole list of reasons, mostly negative.  I just looked at him, smiled, wished him well and had the best 8 years of my career and I feel the same way today I did 8 years ago.

I don't believe the golden age of image making, story telling, advertising is over, I believe it's just starting to get interesting.
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fredjeang

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2010, 12:39:34 PM »

Quote from: James R Russell
I think this is a relevant place for this topic, because this section is semi-dedicated to the most expensive and singular use still cameras produced.  

The market for those cameras has historically been professional photographers, so it makes sense this is a place for a professional discussion.  Now with stuff like PODAS that doesn't seem to be exactly the case, or the sole directive of the camera makers marketing plan, but  they wanna sell stuff and I don't blame them for exploring every market.

I actually would like to see this section include video production, just because it has become part of our professional life.  I've shot video in combination with our still photography for years and though I don't see it as the end all and savior of the industry, I do see it as another service to sell, another medium to tell a story and actually find it quite interesting.

Without boring everyone, including myself the simple answer is the economy is in a severe world wide downturn.  No sector is immune, (except government executives and wall street) and the only reaction to this type of economy is to do more, offer more, get better.

That or get gone.   We all know this.

Then again a lot of this industry has always been about smoke and mirrors.  I get around to a lot of places, here a lot of stories and once you open the hood, you realize it's not always what it seems to be. Some photographers under the radar do better than you would think, some over the radar do worse.

Some photographers made their money as doctors, then became very good photographers, some have trust funds that are loaded with gold and lost it all, some began their life and career sleeping in their cars, using broken cameras and $50 lights and moved upward to do very well.  None of this really matters as long as the imagery they produce is good.    That's the only definition, to shoot damn good.

Lately I'll admit all the talk about doom and gloom effects me, hell it effects everyone in every industry, but if I've learned anything in my life, it's not to worry about what other's do, just do the best that I know how to do, in the way I know how to do it and try not to let the noise effect me.  The last one is difficult, but for everyone that can't succeed, someone always does.  That's the message I've always told myself.

As far as hard work, 14 hour shoot days, I have no problem with that, because I like to work, am compensated well and if I have to throw some sweat equity at it, it's not big deal.    Also when I work, I work with my partner, our crew, who are my friends, people I respect and spending 14 hour days in that environment is not a chore.

If I've given the impression that I work hard . . . then that's correct.   If I give the impression that I don't enjoy working hard, even have fun at working hard,  then I miscommunicated.

I also have to stay away from the pundits that keep telling us where the industry is going, because I've yet to hear a clear cut, real world answer of how the web will become the all encompassing advertising/editorial vehicle.   There is still room and growth in traditional media, even expansion of their markets through the web.  Heck, terrestrial radio is in a resurgence and I just saw a figure that 95% of all Americans tune in to some kind of radio station daily, whether it be in their car, or on the web.  That's interesting in the fact that one or  the earliest forms of "modern" media is showing growth.

I've gone through everything everyone else has.   First it slows up some and you get that kind of sick feeling in your stomach, then you complain about what's being demanded, then you just realize hey, nobody told me life was going to be easy, so you roll up your sleeves and hit it.

I've also come to the realization that It's none of my business if the New York Times or Forbes loses 20 million a quarter, or makes 50 million a year.  My role is to shoot the most compelling images I can given the subject, budget,  circumstance, deliver the imagery and go on with my life.  After a photo, a video, leaves my hands, it really is none of my business anymore, other than I hope it has success for the people that pay me.

I think I know that the web can make photography (or if you want to call it image creation) more viable and open up more opportunities for editorial and advertising to reach a world wide market.  What use to be a local magazine can have a world wide following.  What use to be a small confectionary shop in the East Village can now go international.   It's the same for our industry, it's the same for this website and forum.

Now the real bottom line is why I did this gig in the first place.  It wasn't to get rich, (though I've always made a good living), it wasn't to get famous as I have no desire for anyone to really know me.  In fact the only reason I've ever advertised, printed a portfolio,  built a web site, entered a competition, is because those are standard vehicles for getting your name out and getting work.  The only reason I ever moved from Texas to Chicago, Chicago to SF, SF to LA, LA to NY is to keep things fresh, but most importantly keep what's in front of my lens interesting.

In reality, I wish I had started my career under a pseudonym, maybe a name like B. Cooter, then I could have a separate, non photographic life under my real name.

I did this gig because I fell in love with the photograph, later became a business person so I could work, talk and communicate in a professional manner and I'm under no illusions (never have been) that this is anything but one of the world's  most difficult industries to have success.

To me those last 7 words are a positive reason to become a photographer, not a negative.

Technology hasn't changed that, in fact though there are more photographers than ever before, there is also more places to run our photographs than ever before, more clients to present to.  The trick is learning how to get compensated for it and if you keep moving forward, keep pushing those times will come.  Of this I have no doubt.

JR

P.S.   I've been working on this personal series about everyday workers.   I've shot still and video and the stories are fascinating and inspiring when you ask this simple question, "detail your working day".

Everyone is effected by the economy, everyone is working harder for the same or less, everyone, is doing their best to keep their spirits high, provide for their families and make the best of the situation.  Professional photographers are no more immune to this than anyone else and maybe I'm naive, (actually I know I'm NOT naive), but I believe in the end everything works out even better than before.

We can look at the changes as a negative or embrace the positive.  I know that sounds like some kind of corny line from an Ipad ad but let's get real, I'm writing on a computer, not a yellow pad, I'm sending this out to thousands not dozens and I'm sharing my thoughts with people I hope are willing to share back.

P.S.S.

About 8 years ago I was in a lab in LA and a photographer I knew was working behind the counter.  He said the business had changed, he didn't want to do it anymore, had a whole list of reasons, mostly negative.  I just looked at him, smiled, wished him well and had the best 8 years of my career and I feel the same way today I did 8 years ago.

I don't believe the golden age of image making, story telling, advertising is over, I believe it's just starting to get interesting.
Thank you James for this extensive and very interesting post.

I do beleive that attitude is very important, there is always two ways to see something.

I've just learned with your lines a lot more than in many times.

I'm very gratefull for that!

Cheers.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 12:46:04 PM by fredjeang »
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Rob C

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what the hell is happening?
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2010, 01:44:28 PM »

Well, I suppose it's different looking at the situation from a retired person's perspective, but the one thing that comes over very clearly to me is that there is some confusion about the date when this decline began. Unlike some posters, I do not think that it dates from the current global banking panic of 2008. I am absolutely convinced that things were already sliding out of control in the late 70s. It had nothing to do with banks and sub-primes!

Now, I left an industrial photo-unit within one of Britain's largest engineering companies in '64 or '65. A very few years later I discovered that the unit had been closed. This unit did very high security work and it must have taken pretty hard thinking to close the unit down and take on the security risks that outside contractors inevitably represented. But is was done. Where did those other photographers who worked with me go? One, I know, went to work as a snapper in a shipyard a short time before the closure; after a while he left for another industrial company. Everybody knows what happened to Scottish shipyards.

I used to do a lot of work for knitwear manufacturers; eventually, their world went ass over elbow too, and I lost a very important source of work. Some even tried shifting production to Hong Kong but that didn't fix a damn thing. Large department stores I used to do huge advertising and point-of-sales display pics for: some consolidated, others bit the dust. Calendar clients: I used to do them over many years for the Hewden/Stuart Group, Britain's largest plant-hire and plant-sales conglomerate with huge business in civil engineering - they have long since appeared to have shrunk and were taken over by a Canadian firm. I did a series of calendars for one of Scotland's largest brewers - they seemed rock solid but appear to have slimmed down remarkably too. There used to be a string of independent camera dealers doing pro equipment - my 'blad dealer lost the franchise because, he told me, he couldn't sell enough of them, simply because he couldn't even get them from source at the prices at which London dealers could sell them. I think you have to look at the distortion that bulk buying from the manufacturer at different prices introduces. Why the hell should a mega supermarket chain be able to buy choc biscuits more cheaply from the maker than can the local grocery store? The economies of scale should indeed be advantages the mega store can introduce, but only via the economies it can make in-house! The small corner shop should face exactly the same cost per packet from the maker as the giant. Deny the small guy that level playing field - as is the case - and one day the supermarket will own the manufacturer too. And none of this is new - as I said, already in full flood in the late 70s.

Newspapers, magazines, these things are partly to blame for their own demise. Again, take photography: all of the magazines I ever saw ran the same sort of racket: how to d&p and the inevitable camera tests and 'for sale' columns. They are doing much the same today, except that in place of d&p and magic formulae you have the digital world and its own snake oil salesmen. But their problem remains: after a couple of years, you become terminally bored with them, as did my wife with her women's magazines. As she said, it's always the same thing: weddings, babies, kitchens, house refurbishing and dresses nobody really can afford or worse, would ever dream of buying. In short, the public is already sated to bursting point. The only way for these companies to find a new life is to offer something new and better, to remain interesting.

And people, too, are changing. From the perspective where I sit, the modern world is full of shit. The music (mainly, but with some great exceptions) sucks and is indistinguishable - I sometimes look through the music channels out of boredom and in the hope of finding something attractive to the eye, even if the sound is a lost cause - but, generally, nothing. The selling that goes on on TV must be aimed at morons. And maybe that's the underlying problem: the shit has hit the fan already.

I can remember the 50s and the end of WW2. Yes, Europe was pretty broke, but we did have fun! Who the hell looks like they are having any now? All I see on kids are sullen, dumb expressions; teachers hardly dare teach anymore and that, in turn, leads to the decline in usefulness of those kids leaving school; nearly all shops carry steel grilles or sit desolate in boarded up High Streets across the country. Why? Trade is tough and the local councils charge so much in rates to spend on keeping the worthless happy that many businesses can't keep enough from their earnings to stay open during bad times. Hey soos!

And worse, problems in one industry affect all other industries within the daisy chain. Photographers depend on good business in order to find work.

So no, it isn't a recent phenomenon at all; it's been going on for many years but has just achieved a critical momentum.

Rob C
« Last Edit: May 15, 2010, 01:48:56 PM by Rob C »
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