Recently I had the good fortune of being interviewed by two top-notch photographers who have very forward-looking blogs: Ibarionex Perello, The Candid Frame; and Matt Brandon, The Digital Trekker.
The interviews took place months apart but they happened to be published days apart. This is not the first time I’ve been interviewed on a podcast, but it made me pause and think about The New World Order for photographers.
(You can also find these podcasts on iTunes)
There has been a steady, gradual shift in the business of photography over the past few years, but I really see a major tectonic shift this summer.
When I started out it was all about magazines. I wanted to be published in magazines; whenever I was interviewed it was in magazines. Editors were The Great Barrier Reef that all photographers had to penetrate.
Magazines are still around but they are not the only forums for photographers, and they have less and less circulation and influence. Conversely, there is an increasing abundance of alternative venues for photo stories (with and without audio), single images, and videos. It is quite exciting, overwhelming, and much more democratic.
But, I can’t help but wonder …who will be paying for it? How will professional editorial (current event, travel, nature, etc.) photographers survive in this New World Order? And, it seems so much more work to me than writing proposals and figuring out to crack into specific magazines.
Plus there is no way to funnel the photographers who rise to the top through talent and hard work into central showcases. Magazines used to be that funnel leading to recognition known throughout out the general public, not just photographers. Now there seems to be a myriad of cells (through Twitter, Facebook, Flicker, Internet forums, etc.) providing platforms for enthusiastic photographers. This is a great boon to a wide range of photographers, but none have a wide range of followers. So it is A Wonderful New World Order for avid photographers and an increasingly stressing one for professionals. But I don’t think this is such a bad thing (ha! fooled you…no, I’m not bemoaning the situation).
I think it is time for a change. The day rate in magazines has not changed in over twenty-five years (I can’t think of any other profession where a pay rate hasn’t increased.) So pros can moan and groan, but it can be very exciting to reinvent one self. And, eventually, I think there will be a new conduit for the world at large to see the creme de la creme of photographers. And will there be will be a new God of Visual Judgment after the demise of magazine editors? (Do you think the median is the best judge of an art form? I don’t.)
I don’t have any answers; it’s exciting and thought provoking (as well as often frustrating) to be at the cusp of such a change.
As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”
So I watch, marvel and try to ride the surf on top of the wave! Whether I get crunched … I don’t know.
© nevada wier Myanmar. Inle Lake.