Well, it’s not as if pro photogs weren’t already feeling this, but seeing it in print makes facing reality unavoidable. The New York Times article on the shrinking opportunities for professional photographers makes us scream I should have become an accountant.
Technology: friend or foe? On one hand, the advanced technology of cameras, computers, and software has made certain tasks less time-consuming, but on the other, has made it easier for amateurs to get accidentally adequate shots. How many camera owners are there in the world? If each owner posted only one good shot to a penny stock site, that would be millions of accidentally adequate shots for editors to choose from. Chances are they will find something close to what they need for their article if they have the time to sift through the multitude of images, bad ones included.
Just a few years ago, editors said they didn’t have time to wade in the muck looking for the good shot. Now, with budgets being slashed, they are forced to do so. Amateur photographers do not need to make a living from their photography. They have “real” jobs, and are thrilled to get the ego pumping validation of having their -dare I say it- work in a magazine or news article. The insanely low pay from a penny stock site is just icing.
The result is that the market is flooded with cheap and adequate images, and the economic hardship for newspapers, magazines, and advertisers forces them accept lower standards of photography.
I am asked to speak to graduating college students, and one of the inevitable questions is “how can I make money?” The answer is that a professional photographer has to do many things. Teach, get sponsorships, seek affiliations, and possibly work part or full-time in unrelated field. In other words, always have a Plan B.
Read the New York Times article.