Monday, November 15, 2010

Talk to me!

Rob Haggart posted this interview with Hall of Famer Clint Clemens, which I found to be one of the most thought provoking posts of the year.  A few juicy quotes:

1) "So what’s happening is that you have a world in which the supply of photography is much, much greater than it ever was. You’ve got the concept that data, because it’s ones and zeros and it’s not a physical asset, has less value."

2) "So, how do you build a wall around yourself?  It used to be your ability to focus, process, expose, etc. and that whole wall has completely fallen down.....essentially what we’re seeing is the automation of photography with all these new cameras."

3) "My sense is that the real profit in photography is coming through people that are essentially teaching."


I'd like to turn the tables for a minute.

This blog started as nothing more than my creative journal.  Over time it has transformed, and through it, I've heard from shooters around the world, which has been amazing.  But this is a big, interesting, important conversation that is worth having.

SO.....whether you're a regular or first time reader of this blog, please, please, take 2 seconds to share your thoughts.  And if you want to share a little bit about yourself that would be awesome too.

Talk to me!


B said...

It's still a bit defeatist and "old guard".

Look, technology has broken barriers in many fields. Today you can use your computer to write a manuscript and have it bound into a book, in some cases in a few hours. Something that would fit right in on the shelf at Borders. But whether or not it's any good, whether or not it has any impact on the market, depends on what's written on the page, not the technology that got it there.

Or, as a comment over there said, anyone can buy a pencil. Especially in creative arts, technological and economical barriers will only hold for so long, never bet on them to keep anything afloat.

Clemens' reaction seems to be to step a little higher up the ladder and embrace yet another technology that few have the ability or knowledge to work with. Sounds backward. Ten years ago, HDR was something a few specialists could do, today anyone can download free software and get started in minutes. Eventually, you're going to run out of rungs.

Great article though, and plenty of food for thought, he has a lot of important, worthwhile things to say.

thomas said...

Clemens argues essentially that the way to make money in photography is through teaching and blogs . Does that make sense to anyone?

jimgolden said...

I feel as if you subscribe to this train of thought, might as well pack it in and drive a bus. I was really taken aback by the whole thing. it doesn't sound like fun or photography to me, it sounds like science or something. walls come down, you'll spend our whole career running from something...I dunno, whatever.

akripke said...

I would suggest looking at how other market segments have adapted to technology. Mainly travel agencies, video rental retail stores, and film development shops. If they didn't adapt they went out of business. Blockbuster now is copying the Netflix business model, travel agencies targeted large corporations vs individuals, film development shops turned to selling specialty digital equipment and invested in niche film developing. If you don't watch your industry closely and adapt you will be S.O.L. come retirement. It doesn't help the photography industry that every Bob Dick and Harry and their sisters have a camera in their phone, can instantly upload a drunken picture of themselves at a bar to Facebook, and inundate the web with unfathomable amounts of digital imagery. Now take that amounts and then add China's exponential growth. Its a lot easier to stand out as a star on a track team than at the Boston marathon. My advice...start running with the Kenyans.

Jamie Kripke said...

I do worry about the devaluation of the still image -- that people are losing their ability to focus on one thing or use their for more than a half second.

There are sooooo many more photos in the world than ever before. And they are shared more frequently than ever before. So yes, anyone can buy a pencil, but if there are now 100 million books out there instead of 1 million, how do you sell it?

I think what Clemens is trying to say is that success in photography requires techincal skill, creative vision, and the foresight to see where the market is going to be in 5 or 10 years. Then to educate yourself to stay 5 to 10 years ahead. It's easier said than done.

So rather than running from something, you need to be running toward something.

Which raises the eternal question, where are we going, or more specifically, what is the new HDR?

B said...

Jamie, I used the book as an example because there are millions of them out there. There are 270,000 NEW titles published every year... in the U.S. alone. And yet, the cream still rises to the top, and the industry survives.

As far as your question goes... Clemens is on the right track I think. 3D rendering will eventually replace commercial photography entirely. It's already possible to build whatever scene you want and create a digital still image from it, and this is relaly the natural evolution -- remove the camera from the equation entirely. When you have a 3D model where you have absolute free reign over subject matter, setup, viewing distance and angle, lighting, etc., why bother with models, locations, products, equipment...

akripke said...

The leaders in the industry create the future. It starts with a vision, a passion, then they make it reality. I think you are asking the wrong question. The question needs to be "how can I make my vision of the future a reality?" What resources do I need, is my vision practical, do people NEED this, who do I need on my side to promote it, and what influences exist out there that ultimately control the outcome of the industry. Look at the Snuggie for example...brilliant marketing but WTF!

taylor husted said...

This picture is fantastic

Mike said...

I feel a true photographer can make a great picture every time with whatever camera is in their hand. Not just get lucky every once in awhile with there iPhone at the bar.

Jamie Kripke said...

Running with an amazing idea is easy. Coming up with an amazing idea is hard, especially if you are looking far, far, down the road.

Execution is nothing without strong vision. Imagine what we will be doing in 5 years. What will photography look like? What will cameras look like? They will all be motion capture devices with still quality frames.

Where is this train going?

Rob Prideaux said...

I've been ruminating on this for a bit.

And I keep coming back to the impossibility of predicting such things.

I think Clint took a big risk, buying that very expensive laser scanner, and setting up these companies. I think that his risk, since he was squarely in a segment that was actively pursuing just that sort of thing, was reasonable.

But I don't think it was all that predictive. It looks predictive now, in hindsight, because it paid off.

In fact, I would love to dream up some awesome prediction about where something will end up. But humans are notoriously bad at prediction. And I seem to be particularly bad at it, for a human.

Clint may be trying to say that it requires technical skill, creative vision, and foresight. But I think it's actually much less about foresight than about telling a story about where your efforts fit in the contemporary context, and telling that story over and over again.

I guess it depends on how tightly you define "predict". If it's paying attention to what's going on around you, and responding in a timely, true way, then I think we can predict. But if it's sitting down and dreaming up an accurate picture of what will be in demand in five years, I don't think we can.

Chris said...

I found out about this blog about two years ago while I was in the process of quitting my job as an oil rig worker in Northern Canada to pursue photography here in San Francisco . I have since always found time to check in to see what Jamie's up to as he's always got something very informative and/or unusual to share.

The idea that "photography is dead" or other similar opinions is garbage . Seriously , who says that ?!

I agree with the blogging thing , but who knows about teaching .... I attend Academy of Art and I'm fed up with those folks , they want everyone to be the next Erik Almas . Ew.

Whenever I get frustrated I put on some real good Southern Rap , it helps me focus on hustling and getting ahead rather than iPads , HDR video needs , advertising budgets or anything else found on "A Photo Editor " .