I don't mean to coming off as a jerk but I've seen it before…remember that time when we switched analog to digital? Looking back one would think that was a simple transition. We're simply replacing a roll of film for a chip that holds our photos. What's more we can see our work right away on a screen so we don't need polaroids. Sounds great right?
When I started shooting full time in 2005 the transition from film to digital was underway. By that time the transition was one that could not be stopped. Being new in the industry I embraced it. Technology allowed me to get into the business with less expenses, to quickly grow my skills by experimenting and be competitive in the industry.
One would think that with all the benefits of digital over film that pros would embrace it but that was not the case. While there were some forward thinking photographers, the majority I met were fighting the transition tooth and nail as if their life depended on it. I wonder if they realized at the time that their livelihood depended on making the move to digital?
I heard all the complaints from the classic, "you're taking our jobs" to the "digital will never been as good as film" and the best one, the one I hear today with regards to shooting multimedia, "digital is not my style" all the excuses left me baffled.
For a while I believed what I heard. I was new to this industry and had little reason to question the pros who had been at it for decades. These pros had spend decades perfecting their craft and their work showed it with beautifully hand printed photography which I still admire today. There's no doubt that a film image printed by hand in a darkroom has a unique look to it. Pure analog is beautifully imperfect. It's a look photographers spend millions of dollars a year to emulate with their digital cameras. I get it. Analog is an honest look and a throwback to a time when life was simple and the future for our planet was bright and one to look forward too.
Today, we all accept that digital is the standard for photography. Pure analog photography lives on in the hearts of hipsters and fine artists with large bank accounts. I too enjoy shooting film about twice a year but it's simply not the working mans medium for photography.
As technology levels the playing field in regards to the craft of photography we're starting to see the next transition which is multimedia. Virtually any new model of camera sold in the marketplace today captures video and audio in addition to stills. The video is typically captured at 1080P which is roughly a 2megapixel image. Fine for video and the occasional still images for the web.
This year we're going to start to see the emergence of 4K cameras that are affordable and easy to use. Ultra HD or 4K is four times the resolution of standard high def video or roughly 8megapixels for each frame captured. This means that if the image is captured properly one could pull a frame and make a print with the quality that could make a magazine cover (print or digital).
So the quality is coming and its coming fast yet when I ask most pros if they are utilizing the audio and video capture capabilities of their cameras guess what I hear?
"Video is not good enough to make a still photograph"
"Shooting motion is just not my style"
"The video guys will take our jobs!!"
Thing is technology is constantly changing but for years the photography industry lived in an analog bubble. Any hard working pro could make a good living by shooting a still image and selling a print. That was the business model for decades and it worked.
That business model is barely hanging on to life by pros that refuse to change AKA those that will be out of business soon and also by enthusiasts who want to play pro AKA old skool pro.
Both groups of photographers fail to see the evidence in their hands…the smart phone. With over 1.5 billion smart phones in the market place by 2016 that is the market of the smart professional. One only needs to spend a bit of time looking at all the social apps a smart phone and tablet have to begin to understand the importance of moving a photography business from still photography to a hybrid of still + motion and sound.
Here's a quick list of multimedia social apps/networks I made off the top of my head although I'm sure there are more. Each of these apps has networks of million of consumers that are already creating/consuming multimedia content -
There's your market for hybrid content. Your camera is capable of capturing multimedia, there's over a billion screens just from smart phones…what's your excuse again?
Some pros that might be waiting for traditional main stream media to get with it. I understand, most iPad magazines suck. They're not much more than a PDF with a video embedded here and there. The print publication companies are struggling to understand the gold mine of opportunity with multimedia more so then the photographers hung up on shooting only stills. I get it.
Here's the deal, some print publications will figure it out, some will not and there will be some new publications that take full advantage of the screen real estate. Maybe that magazine will become the next big thing. Chances are it will be from a new visionary we've not heard of or are even paying attention to but until then we have what we have. Print publications are struggling at the change but there is hope.
The New York Times, more than anyone understands the need for multimedia content as was evident in their breakthrough story last year Snow Fall - http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/
Snow Fall beautifully combined video + still & audio into the best representation of what magazines should be producing. NYT just followed it up with another called The Jockey which build upon what was started with Snow Fall.
Add to that the adoption of animated portraits (which I teach) with Americas Next Top Model and we can see that the gap is closing.
Will you be the one that continues with the mantra that 'its not your style' as you slowly go out of business or are you making the efforts to learn the skills needed to be competitive with this multimedia renaissance that's upon us?
Russell Baze is the winningest jockey in American history. Yet his name is familiar to only the most avid followers of horse racing.