The Death of Professional Photography

The New York Times has an article about how amateurs have been flooding the professional photography market. This isn’t news for somebody like me. This is what I’ve been calling the Craigslist phenomenon. The shitty economy has forced everybody to get more creative about how they earn money. And many photo hobbyists are discovering that they’d happily take photos for next to nothing, thus the undercutting of prices and the devaluing of pro quality. Wedding photography for $3-500 is now commonplace. Headshots for $75. When you’re an amateur, time is not money. The complication of course is that there’s often little that distinguishes amateur from pro work. This is often the case in the arts. But technology-based jobs have been getting outsourced to cheaper competition—India, China, etc.—for years. Professional photographers now either have to pursue the high-end or compete against the lowest-common denominator. Of course journalism and photojournalism are dying professions anyway. Twitter and blogs now deliver the news and flickr allows anyone to enter the stock photo business. Competition is healthy of course and as Cocteau said, a medium only really becomes an art form when it is affordable by the masses. So, while I love the increasingly visually saturated world, I’m preparing for my full retreat into another non-lucrative passion, fiction writing.
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