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Author Topic: Future of Photography  (Read 5768 times)
Scott O.
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« on: May 26, 2012, 11:35:24 AM »
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I have been thinking about this a bit lately, and it came to a head for me when I re-processed some images taken in 2003 ( 6mp Nikon D100) and discovered that the new ones were significantly better than the old versions. We also visited Disneyland's attraction featuring future living conditions. Guess what? There were no photographs on the wall. But there were many large LCD panels featuring both traditional photography and other photographed works of art. On my reprocessed images, it was much easier to just re-post to my web site than reprint. And then I sat through a demo of photo apps which are really amazing. And then toss in iPhones, iPads, iPods, Facebook, etc. into the mix. So I am coming to the realization that the traditional photo print, wonderful as it is, is now on life support. It is just so much easier and more efficient to prepare an image for electronic display and sharing than it is to print, and generally the finished image looks better on a monitor anyhow. This pretty much parallels the growth of print media, which is morphing into eBooks and the like. I recently subscribed to Moose Peterson's eMagazine, which is amazing in that it can include wonderful images as well as movie clips, a real glimpse of the future. Anyhow, I digress. This issue is much more complex than I have the ability to discuss, but digital capture will allow photography to go in directions none of us have probably thought about. I would be interested in what you all have to say!
« Last Edit: May 26, 2012, 02:48:54 PM by soberle » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2012, 02:12:09 PM »
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Scott, I posted this in a different thread recently, but I think is quite relevant for what you are asking:

Print is dead... just does not know it yet. Just like film, newspapers, books, CDs, etc. It will be the domain of the few, esoteric, collectors, rich, eccentric, nostalgic...

I was in a furniture store the other day and noticed they are using flat-TVs to display images of their collections, kind of slide show. Then it hit me: how long before the price of a TV equates the price of framing a print? At this point, printing and framing a 24x36 print would cost between $200 and $300, give or take. The same dimension TV is 43" diagonally and they are currently already close to that, i.e., around $400-$500. Wait for a deal, and you just might get it for the price of framing a single print.

Add to the equation that, for the purpose of displaying photos only, the TV may be stripped of all other features, kind of a giant photo frame, and you can see how close the prices will converge. That is all in comparison to ONE framed print. A TV can display gazillion of them. Imagine the problem most people have with large prints on their walls: they do not have enough walls! Let alone the effect of getting used to seeing the same print day in, day out, to the point of becoming oblivious to it.

Add to the equation that most photographs look better on screen than in print (contrast ratio, reflecting vs. emitting light, etc.). Finally, here comes Retina display, to address the most common argument in favor of print: resolution. Retina display already matches and surpasses ppi of most prints. Most of todays gazillion photographs, dare I say 99.9 % of it, will never, ever be printed. People are already content with showing it on Flickr, Facebook or emailing it, watching it on their phones, computers and iPads.

And that is all happening already today. For tomorrow, no wonder I feel the print is dead, for all but the selected few. Shall I add that Kodak was betting its future on printing... we know the outcome.
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Slobodan

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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2012, 04:37:52 PM »
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Slobodan, print may be dying, but the first time there's a high-altitude nuclear burst it's going to come back in a rush. People will have to learn how to find their way without GPS, and entertainment in our bars, under candlelight, will be "live."

Scares the hell out of me to see how much we're moving toward utter reliance on stuff that's completely vulnerable to an EMP surge, especially considering the kind of nutcases we see moving toward a nuclear capability.
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degrub
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2012, 04:56:24 PM »
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Russ,

Even the printers won't go.
Back to rabbit hunting and a draft team on the old farmstead.  Wink

Frank
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2012, 05:20:59 PM »
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Russ, I guess you missed the memo that Newt is out of the race?* Grin



* A friendly tease
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Slobodan

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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2012, 08:23:00 PM »
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Frank,

Ever print anything on a hand press? In the early seventies I printed a catalog for a business my wife started -- on a hand press, with foundry type and blocked photoengravings. Got pretty good with a type stick and pretty good at makeready with slips of tissue. With a hand press the power you need is in your arms.

But you're right. If it happens you're going to have to be on a farm to survive.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2012, 01:33:15 AM »
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Interesting thoughts gentlemen but I am not sure that reality need be that extreme.

TV never did kill cinema despite the doomsayers.
It is true that in the last 40 years plenty of different recording media for audio and audiovisual have come and gone.
Whether film and film cameras will ever completely depart - who knows.
However, there is no doubt that digital photography will be the the future for the foreseeable.
Nonetheless, I don't fully agree that the print is dead - the snapshot print is definately gone and thank goodness - but printing for a purpose - no.
I do not think that printing on paper (or other media that can give comparable results) will ever die.
Digital projection is improving may become an alternative option for photographic display, however, this may be a silly sort of analogy, no-one wants to look at a van Gogh on a screen projection if they can look at the real thing.
Extending the analogy to less rare artworks - I do look at fine art photography on a screen but much prefer to see it face to face.
Digital projection may become an alternative to a print but not necessarily a replacement.

The future will be interesting.

My humble opinion

Tony Jay
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2012, 03:39:21 AM »
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I don't expect to see an end to paper or canvas-based art at all. Television's been around for ages, and the best I can say for it is that one or two channels still back interesting programmes, but the majority are focussed on cost-saving shows that I simply can't watch. The same holds for most news programmes nowadays: the news is a tiny part of it, the principal thing being - it seems - the popularity of the newsreader.

However, since the time we lived in caves - if we could find one and kick out the previous residents - we have decorated them. That's because they had walls. Modern cave dwellers surrounded by glass may have a problem; however, they can buy sculpture instead.

A television screen and/or a monitor is all very well, but also quite impersonal. And no, they don't last all that well either, and as we know, regular calibration is a need taken care of with some skills that are not inbred.

A painting or a photographic print has a tactile quality absolutely lacking in a screen. I say tactile, but I don't for a moment suggest anyone go around fingering their art; no, but the material itself certainly does contribute to the overall effect and presence of the work.

Also, as with Leica, there is that body of people out there that enjoys doing things the hard(?), traditional way, so why not the enjoyment of their art, too?

Rob C
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philbaum
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2012, 01:20:55 AM »
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Well, one thing we know for sure: the world is going to change.

One internet poll showed that 1/3 of photographers don't make or purchase prints at all.  So some change trend is underway alright.

My brother inherited a painting and a print that were wall hangers when we were growing up.  Both items are probably about 70 years old and of emotional significance to the immediate family.  Will tomorrow's flickering digital wall slide show have any emotional significance to future families?  Does it matter I don't know?

About 3 years ago, another brother bought a 10" or something digital playback device.  He spent hours uploading pictures to it and trying to get them in the right order.  Whenever we would visit his house for the first month, he would have it playing, but after the first visit or two, noone in the family pays any attention to it anymore.  Now it never gets turned on. 

I switched to canvas because of the high expense of traditional picture framing.  There's got to be a better solution than that.  The paper print costs $10 and the framing costs $200 - whats' with that?  Some canvas printers indicate that their giclee prints can resist significant fade up to 200 years.  It's interesting to think that one's canvas prints might way outlast one.   

Some vendors claim that their canvas prints will not have significant fade for up to 200 years.  Its interesting to contemplate that one's canvas prints have a chance to significantly outlast one.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2012, 03:39:55 AM »
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It's becoming even less clear what the future will bring.

When I was working, I loved the shooting and the printing was nothing but a way of getting to the point where I could render an invoice. I was a very good printer - I refuse to bow to false modesty on that one - and I can't remember the angst so many here seem to share about the terrors of darkroom life. Neither chemicals not anything else (except cigarette smoke and ash, which caused too much spotting to add to the time waste) were even thought of or noticed as problems.  We just got on with it. If anything, it's today's computer experience that's the pain in the legs and the back.

These last two Saturdays I've been shooting musos again, including Carol Kidd, MBE who is one of the best vocalists I've ever had the luck to see perform live (see Youtube). She electrifies an audience and any venue where she laughs, get's up from her table and does her thing without any concerns about money, contracts, my-people-your-people crap. Anyway, the point I'm creeping towards is this: delighted and excited to shoot, but now, days later, all I can manage to do is look at half of the untouched NEFs... it's really what it ever was: the doing is the thing, the photographing. Printing is like raising the dead. Maybe we should go live in Haiti. Can't be as bad for the circulation as is a computer.

In the end, I now think that we will slowly lose the interest in looking at images of the past; the past, if it was very good, is painful to relive when it's lost. If it was bad, why relive it anyway?

I think Gerry Winogrand became enlightened before the end.

Rob C
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2012, 11:07:05 AM »
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One internet poll showed that 1/3 of photographers don't make or purchase prints at all.  So some change trend is underway alright.

I doubt if 1/3 of photographers are serious. Hell, I doubt that 90% of photographers are serious. So they wouldn't make prints. Also, very few photographers have EVER purchased prints. I doubt that survey means much.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 11:13:32 AM by ckimmerle » Logged

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

Chuck Kimmerle
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2012, 01:00:56 PM »
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I agree with Chuck's opinion about snappers buying or not buying prints from other snappers; I suspect that only a few dedicated fanboys are into that, something I think is best left to 'investors' if only because they can, apparently, pay far more. I don't at all lilke the idea of cheap photography; democracy has nothing at all to do with art: if you want something nice for your home or office, then you should be prepared to pay well for it, as if you were buying a nice little piece of furniture, at the very least. Nobody should expect change from five hundred bucks, as a starting point.

Rob C
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louoates
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2012, 01:35:03 PM »
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I agree with Chuck's opinion about snappers buying or not buying prints from other snappers; I suspect that only a few dedicated fanboys are into that, something I think is best left to 'investors' if only because they can, apparently, pay far more. I don't at all lilke the idea of cheap photography; democracy has nothing at all to do with art: if you want something nice for your home or office, then you should be prepared to pay well for it, as if you were buying a nice little piece of furniture, at the very least. Nobody should expect change from five hundred bucks, as a starting point.

Rob C

I believe that art has plenty to do with democracy. If democracy also means free trade it stands to reason that price in part is based upon supply and demand. And if someone sees two very nice art pieces, one at $200 and one at $500, I'd say they'd go with the $200 piece.  The last few years, prices for photography have come down dramatically. The art shows in the Phoenix area that I walk features $19, $29 and $59 matted inkjet prints with $500+ prices only on immense canvasses. Prices have nosedived as more photographers vie for sales from fewer or the same number of show attendees. .

Lots of show photographers have their print costs down under $10 and they are well aware that customers can get their own prints at Costco for the same cost. Not that the quality of the image is the same, just that the customers are more savvy than ever when it comes to prices. I've brought my own retail prices down significantly over the last few years to compete due to the impulse buying nature of art shows and small galleries. And there seems to be more "value pricing" strategies as in "Buy one, get the second at half price". These observations do not include higher-end galleries or well-known (nationally) photographers who occasionally do weekend art shows.
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Scott O.
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2012, 02:59:56 PM »
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I pretty much agree with Lou. Digital has led to a "dumbing down" of the consumer. If a snapshooter takes a picture (and like it or not, inexpensive cameras can take a pretty adequate picture), they can take it to Costco and get an 11x14 for under $10. Put a cheap frame on it, hang it on the wall, and they can admire a print that THEY took. While the work of the professional is hopefully very much better, it also costs very much more. If someone is tempted to spend $500+ for an image, you can be sure that they are paying for the name of the photographer and not the superior quality of the image. And face it, most people don't know the difference between Ansel Adams and Ansel Smith. Add to this the fact that photo purchases are discretionary, the economy has cut into this market. I think most fine art photographers are making their living conducting workshops and field trips and writing books...
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2012, 03:36:06 PM »
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Yes, and if that's the case, then photography as art is not anything to do with democracy: it's all to do with bargain basements.

And really, that's the point: if it can't be art, priced as art, which means with a modicum of respect for the artist, then forget it.

Perhaps some still get a buzz from the idea that somebody else feels inclined to 'impulse' buy their photograph; to me, that's the art equivalent of what has happened to stock photography, which was once a damned good way to earn more from your profession, so good, in fact, that it attracted very good photographers doing advertising and such prestigious work. But hell, that's all supposed to have something to do with democracy too, when all it really means is the death of another man's industry. And please, no crap about whip makers and wooden wheel builders; this was an altogether different level of art/work.

So yeah, dumbing down was a good way to encapsulate the ethic.

Perhaps the sooner it dies and puts so many young people out of their misery of broken, impossible dreams, the  better.

Rob C
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Scott O.
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« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2012, 04:16:38 PM »
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Perhaps the sooner it dies and puts so many young people out of their misery of broken, impossible dreams, the  better.

Rob C

I consider this every time a young person tells me they love photography and want to make it a career. Do I encourage them or suggest they have a fall-back plan?
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louoates
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2012, 04:39:28 PM »
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I consider this every time a young person tells me they love photography and want to make it a career. Do I encourage them or suggest they have a fall-back plan?

I'm thrilled when I hear a young person is considering a career in photography. Their ideas of photography are way different than mine was at that age. I loved watching my father mixing chemicals in our basement darkroom, developing film, fitting the negative into the huge enlarger, watching the images come alive in the trays... I inherited his love of the end result but didn't much like getting my hands wet. I built my own darkroom in my basement when I first owned a house and did my share of the down and dirty chemical stuff. Then got away from the art to make a living at a real job. When I decided to take up photography again when I retired I discovered Photoshop and the digital printing workflow and never looked back, except affectionately at my fathers patience.

I usually find, though, that mostly young people are in love of the "idea" of photography rather than the "business" of photography. Unfortunately, few photography curricula are business-slanted so I'm more apt to recommend that those young folks get an apprenticeship with a working commercial photographer, even if they have to work for nothing for some period of time.

As for a future in fine art photography in order to make a living? I tell them its more likely for them to get an NBA or NFL contract.
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RSL
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2012, 05:19:36 PM »
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As for a future in fine art photography in order to make a living? I tell them its more likely for them to get an NBA or NFL contract.

Right  Lou. Same thing's true of painters, novelists, poets, etc. There are a lot of kids of all ages out there painting and writing because they want to "be" an artist or "be" a novelist or "be" a poet. The romanticism associated with the name grabs them. but they don't necessarily have anything to say. The result is what we see in "art fairs," and in Amazon potboilers, and in the now deplorably degraded Poetry magazine. If you haven't anything to say as an artist you're probably going to be able to make a better living working at Walmart than by "being" a photographer or a painter or a novelist or a poet.
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2012, 04:19:25 AM »
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I usually find, though, that mostly young people are in love of the "idea" of photography rather than the "business" of photography. Unfortunately, few photography curricula are business-slanted so I'm more apt to recommend that those young folks get an apprenticeship with a working commercial photographer, even if they have to work for nothing for some period of time.

As for a future in fine art photography in order to make a living? I tell them its more likely for them to get an NBA or NFL contract.


Yes, you're right on that point, but I fear that the basic, unresolvable problem is the people. I know for a fact that in my own city, the most succesful studio wasn't about great photography at all: it was about clever business. I was a pretty good snapper as were a couple of other self-employed shooters too, but none of us had the business sense or business interest in the medium as had the owner of the bigger studio.

Unfortunately, we were all, exclusively, about the photography, a cardinal error!

Rob C
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feethea
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 05:22:37 AM »
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Just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post - thanks to Scott for posting the initial question and the very interesting opinions from the responders. Where do I stand? Sorry to say but at the moment I have wood splinters in my arse from sitting on the fence re the future!

Barry
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