Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When I Grow Up

I heard the other day that it takes 10 years for someone to get good at something. Meaning achieve a level of proficiency that allows them to make a living at it. TEN years. That's a good chunk of time. I've been shooting since I was 16. That's over 20 years of looking through a camera. And I still feel like I'm just getting started.

I read an interesting and kind of scary article by Vincent Laforet yesterday. It talked about how the industry is changing and how we as photographers may change with it. Photojournalists are using video cameras to cover events, and grabbing stills from whatever they catch on film. I've shot jobs with a Canon 1D Mark II, which at 10 frames a second is pretty close to shooting video.

These things make me wonder what this job will be like in 10 years. Until HMI's become battery powered and cheap, it will be hard to use video to recreate the look of a still image with some well crafted strobe lighting. Documentary shooting, on the other hand, might not be so different whether you're using a still camera or video.

So, what will I be doing in 10 years? Hopefully making unique pictures that most people can't make. Lately I've been collaborating on some complex composite images and have been really enjoying the process.

In terms of adapting to the market, it's going to be important to find a specialty within photography, one that someone with a point and shoot and some decent photoshop skills can't really do. I'm interested in visual problem solving, and want to seek out work that takes thinking through and detailed production. That's one way I hope to evolve into an area of specialty.

Anyway, Vincent's article made me think for a minute about what I would do if I were forced to leave photography. And I have NO idea. Taking the next 10 years to get good at something else? I'll pass.

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