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Author Topic: Why the camera industry is in the dumper  (Read 5059 times)
KevinA
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« on: March 14, 2014, 02:00:09 PM »
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Well I for one are making plans to get out of it. I'm still doing ok on stock sales but hey nothing lasts forever.
I've stated before in the future I believe the only people that will be recognised as photographers will be ones shooting a wet process.
Not saying they will be making a living out of it. There will still be people shooting digital stills but honestly they will need to be doing more than that, I doubt they will be called "Photographer".
If anything is killing the industry the most I think it's from the hobby end. I just don't see the enthusiasm to get involved in it as a hobby. The requests for new features and abilities on cameras is all to make thinking and effort less, of course it must fit in the shirt pocket and have a walk about lens.
I find that odd as something you call a hobby, no one goes sailing at weekends wishing they had a motor. No one climbs a mountain wishing they had driven up the road instead. So where is the hobby factor? Is it shooting a thousand images to sit in front of a computer to find the good one? I remember years before digital various cameras being referred to as Male jewellery. Well I think it's at it's peak now, the masses will move onto other adornments.
The upsurge in photography as a hobby since digital is not because it's within the reach of more people, it's because it's within the reach of more people that don't see you need to make an effort to "take a good photo". There was a lot to learn when you needed to know why you would choose a certain film etc. You learnt, it cost money and you kept on learning, you couldn't do it if you didn't
I suspect lots of the new world enthusiasts have found you don't need to make an effort with your phone either.
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Kevin.
WalterEG
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2014, 02:30:11 PM »
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Kevin,

For me that is an incredibly axiomatic post.  Were it not so wordy I'd crochet it into my pillow slip.

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Justinr
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2014, 02:59:20 PM »
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Guys, get real will you. The world moves on, what do you want, great advances in everything but image capture? It's happened, we all hate it but life is not some Disney time capsule. If you think the work of the 'hobbyist' is crap go convince your clients and potential clients, there's enough whinging here already.

Sorry for being so blunt but navel gazing and muttering into our tea cups may bring some sort of morbid satisfaction but does little to take the craft forward, and anyway, it never really paid a lot photographers that much in the past.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 03:03:41 PM by Justinr » Logged

Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2014, 03:19:20 PM »
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Get an 8x10 and try some "Impossible Project" polaroids.
Then come back to this thread.
Cheers
~Chris
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2014, 03:25:06 PM »
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Kevin,

Yes, you're on the money there with the take on 'hobby'. I think, too, that hobby now and hobby then probably attracts much the same percentage of the populace, but that many more people not really interested in hobby climbed aboard because as you say, it was imagined easier to get from A to B on a computer. Also, as happened to fashion photography post-Blow Up, many guys took to it for the wrong reasons. That they were ultimately disappointed and got out did nothing to limit their damage to the business, where prices were run down quite severely, and that when there were still lots of outlets. The parallel with stock's demise because of digital is very clear if you search for it with even a cursory glance: too many bit-players with no commitment for the long haul. Ditto the bloody 'agents' that bought their way into stock, only to give away the family jewels on little plastic discs.

With luck, the dust will settle, the companies who played with photography will get out again, leaving the business to those for whom it represented a great part of their turnover. In that way, if only because of less funny money with which to gamble, pointless new releases will vanish and the gentle, useful pace of model replacement will again become the norm. I hope. But having said that, as for photographers, will there be much left for those camera and lens firms whose first interest was photography products? Will any even survive?

Rob C
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michael
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2014, 03:25:27 PM »
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"I've stated before in the future I believe the only people that will be recognised as photographers will be ones shooting a wet process. "

This is a minority opinion, and to my mind a rather foolish one. Photography is photography, and the tools and processes used to create an image are a matter of time, place and technology.

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Michael
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RSL
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2014, 03:33:09 PM »
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+1
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2014, 03:34:25 PM »
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"I've stated before in the future I believe the only people that will be recognised as photographers will be ones shooting a wet process. "

This is a minority opinion, and to my mind a rather foolish one. Photography is photography, and the tools and processes used to create an image are a matter of time, place and technology.

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Michael

Taking drawing courses also helps ...
Cheers
~Chris
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2014, 03:47:50 PM »
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"I've stated before in the future I believe the only people that will be recognised as photographers will be ones shooting a wet process. "

This is a minority opinion, and to my mind a rather foolish one. Photography is photography, and the tools and processes used to create an image are a matter of time, place and technology.

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Michael


I'm not so sure, Michael. I think that one result of the digital revolution will be exactly that: photography in the traditional manner, i.e. non-digital, will become the gold standard of the photography business insofar as art photography goes. I do think that the concept of art photography is now mature enough that the higher values will be confined increasingly towards the wet pix than not, if only because they will become progressively more rare and, by definition, collectible.

Anyway, I have one old 10"x12" 70s print on the bedside table - a TXP 120 from the 'blad with 150mm, of my two kids, just shot off the cuff, against the light and probably not even metered, because I wanted to finish a film from a job and get it into the tank. Printed on Kodak WSG 2D or 3D, it's one of the best prints I've got today. Glazed, behind glass, it hasn't even started to fade or yellow. The tones are fantastic to my eye. I do have an HP B9180 and yes, true, it prints black/white rather well, and I have many prints; but none matches the tonality I always expected from Kodak or Ilford. I can quite see why collectors might prefer wet print products than digital, even if they are not quite sure what makes the differences.

Rob C
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robertfields
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2014, 04:37:42 PM »
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Right on, Michael, as usual.  I appreciate your frankness, your clarity, your experience, your opinion.  Oh, and by the way....you are a damned fine photographer.  Cheers, sir.  Keep 'em rolling.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2014, 04:43:35 PM »
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Michael seems to be taking part in the forum more lately. I'm not sure I like it.  Smiley
Here we are happily disagreeing and then it's like having a deus ex machina.

Back to the topic. There has been a lot of energy expended over the last few years over the so-called decline brought about by digital. Heavens above and earth beneath, have these folks never been to local art exhibitions? There has always been a huge amount of painting and drawing that is "not very good" to be polite. All the artists I know are quite okay with that, and are happy that folks get involved.
When mass produced dry plates became available in 1879 photography became something people could do without years of training. A typical response was from Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll), one of the best wet plate portrait photographers of the era. His only remark was “Here comes the rabble”. He stopped taking photographs entirely a year later. He was undoubtedly right but that's another matter...

Rob, I think most of us are imprinted (pun intended) with the aesthetic from the time when we were most impressionable. That maybe when we were children or when we first took photography seriously. Your old 10" x 12" undoubtedly is a fine image but may fall into that category. For me it's that work from the early 1900's. When I first saw the work of Ponting and Hurley I was bowled over. I realise it possibly comes from being bed-ridden as a child every winter and having Arthur Mee's encyclopaedia as a companion. All those amazing images and none made later than about 1900.
Well if collectors come to prefer wet print products rest assured it will be for their value as collectable things and not for reasons of taste.
David
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2014, 04:45:57 PM »
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Michael seems to be taking part in the forum more lately. I'm not sure I like it.  Smiley

I like it.
Sort of a proof it he's still human Wink
Cheers
~Chris
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KLaban
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2014, 04:59:44 PM »
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I've stated before in the future I believe the only people that will be recognised as photographers will be ones shooting a wet process.

...and in the meantime the most influential British artist of the latter half of the 20th century has been embracing digital technology to great effect.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/richard-hamilton 
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2014, 05:20:55 PM »
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Maybe its time to slay the holy cow of collectibility.

In the time of incredible reproduction possibilities a photography no longer defines a significant part of its value by the media it was produced on.
Exception is the dwindling and on a low level constant market of wet prints.

The physical  craftmanship necessary to produce a great wet print is replaced by other parts of the craft:
Postproduction, judgement and depth.

Being so this means that cheap effect seeking, cheap plugin and digital filter abuse will be recognized
by the maturing audience of the digital age more and more
and thus husk and wheat will get separated.

Knowing the digital tools, judgement and good taste as well as the ability to say something significant with the images one produces will be of even more importance than it was in the old days.
In the old days knowing photographic technique very well and using good (often expensive) tools, like large format or medium format cameras was a separator.
Today this has become a convenience - the focus is more on the content itself and the bar is raised.

We are drowning in visual clutter - so people will learn to distinguish.

my € 0.02

Cheers
~Chris
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Isaac
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2014, 05:38:59 PM »
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... I think that one result of the digital revolution will be exactly that: photography in the traditional manner, i.e. non-digital, will become the gold standard of the photography business insofar as art photography goes.

"Since about 1975, a high-dollar market for photographs has existed. In it, the rules of the old market for works of art apply: color sells for more than black and white; larger costs more than smaller; rarer brings a better price. So talented photographers began to work in color, make large prints, and print in limited, numbered editions. ... Another rule of the market is that price at auction determines importance -- what we see in museums and handsomely produced catalogs today, and what important critics will write about and students of art history will study tomorrow. Today, we believe that the best artists get the highest prices."

p23-24 "Why Photography Matters"
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Isaac
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2014, 05:42:48 PM »
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So where is the hobby factor? Is it shooting a thousand images to sit in front of a computer to find the good one?

There are people who collect stamps as a hobby.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2014, 05:44:47 PM »
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With the right mindset you can actually shoot just few images even with a digital camera ...
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WalterEG
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2014, 05:53:49 PM »
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I suspect that the camera industry is in the dumper due to poor business and marketing models fuelled by high octane hubris on the part of the manufacturing "establishment" which blinded them to the reality of the marketplace and the proliferation of new players entering and taking commanding positions in the business.

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Justinr
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2014, 06:19:26 PM »
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It's worth pointing out that 'hobbyists' would not be providing images if there were not a demand for their output. Why pour vitriol upon them when they are only serving a gap in the market? Pros have to show that they have something better to offer, more attractive, more effective, more commercial, that's how a free market works we are continuously reminded and I speak as a bit of unrepentant old lefty generally, so let's go and do it.
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KevinA
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2014, 06:45:06 PM »
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"I've stated before in the future I believe the only people that will be recognised as photographers will be ones shooting a wet process. "

This is a minority opinion, and to my mind a rather foolish one. Photography is photography, and the tools and processes used to create an image are a matter of time, place and technology.

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Michael
Michael
 I believe the term photographer will change it's meaning. The job of "Photographer" will no longer exist, there will be no market for someone that only takes 2d still images. The lines will become blurred between, still 2d, moving, 3D, hologram and whatever else the future holds. The term Photographer will be describing something more niche, like the job of a cobbler or candlestick maker, once common and considered necessary .  The modern view will be more like "digital artist", 2d static images will not be enough. 4k camera phones, tablets and software will move the masses away from the photograph as we know it. And it will all be achievable at the click of a button or selection of a menu, no thought needed.

What we have right now is quantity cheaply  and so less value.  Getty and Facebook prove that, Getty will be consuming the Lions share of advertising revenue and throwing crumbs to the image makers.
 The only way not to get ripped off is to have a product that can not be duplicated 10 or 1000,000 times at the click of a mouse, that's why I say in the future the only ones left called a photographer will be the ones hand crafting  their still image. The more digital moves on, the bigger difference there will be in look between handcrafted and computer mass produced.
A digital camera that only does flat still images will be like owning an 8 track car hi-fi, the masses will move on, mainly because they are told they should. "Photographer" will be mentioned like Fletcher, Cooper or Lace maker, only a dedicated few left practicing the craft. We are not at the pinnacle of photography just because there are more cameras around that work easier than they did 40 years ago.
The equipment is not a measure of the state of photography, it's standing amongst the public is a better barometer.
 I bet in the 60's the average person could probably name two or three well known photographers. I doubt most now could  name one  photographer, if they did it would probably be Annie or Bailey, no one contemporary. The golden age has gone, the respect has gone a digital photograph can be had for  less than the price of the plastic bag you carry your shopping home from the super market in. That's how it's valued today, not because you can fit a camera in a shirt pocket that shoots 20fps in the dark.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 07:44:35 PM by KevinA » Logged

Kevin.
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