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Free Photography Will Save the World — and Nine Other Myths
Posted By Paul Melcher On December 10, 2008 @ 8:27 am In Photojournalism | 3 Comments
In our changing world of photography, the myths and misconceptions abound. Here are 10 that come to mind:
1. Photojournalism is being killed by celebrity photographers. In fact, photographers who cover the celebrity scene, whether red carpet or street photographer, have the same ratio of good to bad photographers as in news. It takes some of the same skills to cover news and celebrity. Regardless, Time or Newsweek have not increased their celebrity photography coverage. They just have just lessened their news coverage.
2. Editorial photography is dying. What is dying are the daily and weekly print publications. Newspapers, magazines, and old brands. They cannot compete with the speed of news anymore. What is dying is the image that is formatted for a print support with a rectangular format. What is dying is the photography taught in school and colleges today. There is a new medium for editorial photography that has never existed before, that knows no boundaries in size, amount, artifact and pricing (the Internet). What really is dying here is an old mentality.
3. Video will replace stills. Take a look at the volume of video images that came out of the Olympics. Hours and hours of footage. Now, tell me who will sit down and edit film pumped out at 25 frames per seconds to find the right image?
4. Anybody can shoot great images these days. Why would anyone say that when pro photographers have always used the same equipment as amateurs? This is not like dentistry or chemistry where the tools are hard to find, let alone the knowledge. Photography has always been easy to learn and the equipment always available to anyone. The only part that has changed is how much easier it is these days to share. But really good images created by amateurs have always been around. Not as accessible, that is all. It’s not the equipment that matters in great photography, it is the person holding it.
5. If you produce a lot of images, you can make a living with your photography. A rule of thumb more in the stock photography world than in the editorial one. It was true for a while, when it was expensive to distribute images to clients. Today, it is a dangerous thought. Quantity will slowly be replaced by quality as the market will no longer be able to support myriads of photographers hoping to make a living. Image buyers will no longer be capable of keeping up with offers and will start closing doors.
6. A photo editor knows a lot about photography. A photo editor only knows a lot about the photography used in their publication. He or she works, breathes and sleeps in a very confined universe. Their ability to make one publication look great almost never translates into making any and all publications look great. That is why very successful photo editors never leave the publication they work for. They grow into them.
7. Blogs about photography are useful. Besides posting press releases they never read or repeating something they read elsewhere, they actually do not help much. Only a very few escape the narcissistic trip of the popularity contest and give out valuable insight. They are extremely rare. The rest are operated by hit counters.
8. Every successful photographer is a great photo editor. Why do thousands of photographers flock to have their portfolio edited by another photographer? It would vaguely make sense if one would want to be that photographer or replace him/her. Even so, photographers are the worst editors of their own work. But what makes a successful photographer a better editor than a non-photographer? If anything, when they see a great portfolio, wouldn’t they try to dissuade that person from stealing their job?
9. There is still room for a news agency. With AP, AFP, Reuters, Getty, EPA, DPA and other wire services employing some of the best photographers in the world while controlling most of the sales channel, there is no more oxygen. The best one can hope to do is represent a small pool of extremely talented photographers and help them get assignments, but even that is not a given. If they are extremely talented, they really don’t need much help. So what makes all these agencies try to cover events with 1/10 of the resources the others have with medium to mediocre photographers (crumb photographers)? Hope ?
10. Free photography will save the world. There is only one thing that will save photography, if it actually needs saving. It’s photography — great photography.
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