• Martin Kristiansen

The death of photography?

Of course I don't believe for a moment that photography as an industry is dead. It is Sunday afternoon and I have been sitting in front of my computer since 08:00 sending out urgent jobs. I'm fully booked for the week ahead and need to get this done before load shedding starts at 16:00. That doesn't sound like a dying industry to me.

A changing industry? Hell yes. I have been selling images since 1976 and I have seen more than a few changes. For the most part the changes have been for the good of the industry. Quality has gone up, usability of images is vastly improved, turnaround is massively better and cost to clients is way down. A pack shot now costs the same as what we were charging in 1987. What's not to like if you are a user of photographic images?

In 1996 I was gleefully told by a scanner operator in a large repro house that my industry was going to die and I would soon be out of a job. I wonder what he is doing now? In 2012 a printer told me much the same thing. Why do people keep predicting the death of photography and why do they keep getting it wrong?

It has to do with a misconception about what photography is and what it isn't. What it isn't is the ability to manipulate the controls of complex photographic equipment. The assumption is that simplifying and automating the equipment will kill off photography as a way to make a living. It is not the camera that takes a good photo any more than it is a good word processor that writes a compelling story.

What is photography then? Simply put it is visual story telling. A photographer requires the ability to tell a story with images, to point out the attractive features of a product that you are trying to sell. A photographer must be able to find the best angle, viewpoint, lighting and perspective so that the viewer can clearly see and understand what is being shown. To do all this requires skill and training.

A few years ago I was doing a shoot for a company selling products on the Amazon portal. My client was given guidelines by Amazon as to the 4 triggers to making an online sale. In order of importance they are:

1 Photograph

2 Price

3 Customer feedback

4 Product description.

Thats right, number one on the list is the photograph. A sloppy, poorly shot unprofessional image creates the impression of a company that is itself sloppy and unprofessional. Not the type of company that you would want to deal with.

The worlds most successful companies use top quality photography. They didn't get to be top companies by being stupid or wasting money on needless expenditure. Look at the photography used by companies such as Nike, Revlon and Apple. The quality is fantastic. Look at the photography of successful local companies such as Amrod, Famous Brands and Woolworths. You get my point? Successful companies see the value in using professional photography.

So no, I don't think photography is dying. I think it is just getting going.

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