I do not see all that many amateurs willing to learn/afford even more abstract software and join in that particular race. For a start, as amateurs they have the freedom of choice, of doing what they think is fun, which presumably is shooting pictures.
I'm not sure that's the case at all. The freedom of choice gives us the luxury of concentrating on the aspects of photography we enjoy, rather than on the aspects which might make more sellable pictures, or take us there faster or cheaper. Looking at any random non-pro photography forum it's 75% about gear, 20% about software, and 5% photography - and I'm being generous for the photo part.
I photograph when I travel and increasingly in studio for portraits and glamour, and strive to get better at photography with composition, light, color, etc., and trying to say something coherent in each picture. But I also enjoy the software part in the pursuit of that coherence. Gear is mainly a means to an end, although I do drool over the concept of S2 or 645D even though I can't see justifying the cost for myself.
There are many gear fetishist amateurs who are in it for the toys, and don't care so much about the photography. Nothing wrong with that - good for them if that's what they enjoy.
So I would say that amateurs are the driver for much of photography gear and software development.
For people that shot people shots on far-flung beaches, in paddy fields, in cityscapes, on boats etc. the chance for enjoying the buzz of the days of travelling somewhere to do that has already shrunk a lot; maybe this signals the end. It may also mean that fewer creative, curious minds that once sought that very thrill will survive or ever exist in pro photography again. It was only because it formed part of the possible that many of us actually had those pro pho dreams and managed to turn them into fact for ourselves; little else about photography is remotely exciting enough to warrant spending your life doing it for survival.
I know a relatively successful travel photogapher with a writer/producer wife who travels half a year, and edits, markets and sells during the other half. The traveling part sounds glamorous, but they go to so many places and spend so little time in each they have very little (if any) time to enjoy it.
I'm sure there was more glamour in photography in the past, and there still is - I can't fathom shooting this
could be a drag no matter how much sand you have in your shorts But for the vast majority I would imagine photography is just another way to pay the bills.
As Slobodan alluded in the previous post, glamour is fleeting and changing. Hollywood used to be glamorous; as much as I enjoy Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek, they have absolutely nothing
on Bogie or Ingrid Bergman when it comes to star appeal.
But much of that has to do with mystery of the process itself. Back in the days of Casablanca and North By Northwest there was no behind-the-scenes footage or director's commentary. What people saw on the silver screen was almost magical even though people knew it was fake. Now we know exactly how those blue creatures were created in 3D in Avatar.
Same with photography. While roll film brought photography to the masses, it was only the ubiquity and instant feedback of digital along with cheap or free post-processing with PS Elements or Picasa which tore down the last bit of mystery from photography. Someone creates a unique look, and within days we have dozens of draganizers or over-cooked HDR plugins and softwares which get to the same end-result, sometimes with a single click.
I would be the first one to say that free access and sharing of knowledge and techniques is welcome. But I also wish there was more mystery so people would still say oohs and aahs, instead of "Oh cool picture. I see what you did there, you jacked up the high-pass filter, desaturated the highlights, applied post-crop vignetting and increased yellow levels; can't wait to try this at home and put it on my blog so we'll have a million copycats in hours!"
The optimist in me says that we'll have stunning photography from this era for future generations of curators - but right now there's so much of it it's hard to say which is truly good, which just a passing fad.