Diversify or Die?
What does the future hold for the still photographer? It’s a common theme in forums, magazines and anywhere else photographers congregate – especially those who are attempting to a make living from the industry. Digital killed photography! Is one cry, closely followed by digital is the saviour of photography! Undoubtably it’s much harder to sell prints these days – people want files. Using this analogy, the photography industry is in much better health than the music biz, where new artist development has plunged and where generational changes has meant that anyone under the age of 25 feels that downloads should be free. The intrinsic value of a file is seen as being practically zero.
For me, it’s about still be able to produce something that ordinarily couldn’t be produced by just a guy with a camera. That’s why I use flash a lot, and reflectors, and the best lenses and special locations and most importantly, a bucket load of thought behind each image combined with RUTHLESS editing. If it’s not 100% right, it gets binned. Sure this means it takes time to build up and refresh a portfolio, but if you shoot a lot and shoot varied subjects it needn’t be so. We do a lot of work with unsigned bands with not much money. We charge them an appropriate amount of money for this – which is of course discounted. However, that doesn’t meant they get sub-standard images – they get exactly the same quality and thought that Biffy Clyro would get. Exactly the same. No corners cut.
That’s one way of ensuring a future. The other is to diversify. With the advent of D-SLR’s that have HD video capability the limits of what a photographer is, are vanishing. I love video, I’m still learning it, it’s a challenge – all of which are the same feelings I got when striving to produce professional looking stills millions of years ago. I can do that now – so time to move on and learn another discipline which may lead to another revenue stream. Interestingly, although ‘video’ is pretty much in the reach of everyone, just like stills, the quality of video, the editing, the story telling isn’t. It takes time and a lot of skill to get great video, to piece it together, get the soundtrack, add titles – so I feel it hasn’t yet been totally democratized in the way that photography and to some extent music has.
This week has been very busy for 80eight – shooting green screen video, getting secondary matte footage, creating titles and motion graphics…And no stills! Perhaps ‘photographer’ is an outmoded term. Maybe it’s simply a visual digital content creator? Hmmm, that’s not too snappy is it? And so, to illustrate this piece, here’s a still. But one that is suitably cinematic.