Tech Experts Answer 3 Questions About Photography Today

by Jessica Gordon

October 30, 2013

Rangefinder asked industry professionals from different corners of the business three pressing questions affecting the photography community now. Here are their diverse answers.

Q: What advances to technology in the last couple of years had the most influence on photography today?


CAMERA PHONES

The quality of mobile cameras and generally the mass accessibility and affordability of image-making technology has had a huge influence. The fact that an estimated 4.4 billion camera phones were used around the world in 2012 (out of a world population of 7 billion people) goes to show the massive social impact this technology has on just about everything we do including the photography industry.
—Alexandra Niki, Founder, Resource Magazine

SUPERIOR SENSORS

From the standpoint of improving the quality of cameras, I’d say bigger sensors. I think buying a camera now based on megapixels is kind of like buying a car based on horsepower or the size of the gas tank. You don’t want to ignore it entirely, but I’m not sure it’s in the top five considerations.
—Henry Posner, Director of Corporate 
Communications, B&H

INSTANT APPROVAL

The ability for clients to review images on set and remotely while the shoot is taking place is a significant change. We see more and more people involved in the approval of images, and clients know that tethered capture allows them to see images instantly from anywhere. Clients from around the world can now simultaneously review images from a shoot in real time and provide feedback and approval to the photographic team.
—Victor Wang, Owner, BLAST DIGITAL+STUDIO

SOCIAL MEDIA RULES

Sites like 500px, Facebook, SmugMug, Vimeo and even Instagram have created a global image-making culture. Photo and video are now a global language that sees no boundaries. It appeals to everyone; we are all content creators. And, while some of that content may not be of a professional nature, it still opens doors to places and experiences many of us have never had the opportunity to share or see for ourselves.  
—Adam Sherwin, Executive Producer, Resource TV

MOVING IMAGES
Video sharing has driven the exponential ability to learn from and be inspired by others. As a result, the global photography community is going through a rapid evolution right now as new types of images are being born every day.   
—Scott Braut, VP of Content, Shutterstock

Q: As cell phone and point-and-shoot camera technologies improve, how will professional photographers use these tools to retain a stronghold in the industry?


PHOTO © Lucas Allen/Courtesy Martha Stewart Everyday Food

JOIN ‘EM
Most of us have seen or heard of the Martha Stewart Everyday Food article shot with an iPhone [above, by Lucas Allen in 2011, using the Hipstamatic app], or the recent TIME cover, also shot with an iPhone [by Ben Lowy], yet, only these random little shockers seem to surface then disappear again. Most professional photographers already use these tools to retain a stronghold in the industry. The ability to put up photos to show off their “eye,” even if it’s not a finished work or client-worthy, is still a promotion of their esthetic. The real elephant in the room is: If the information, gear and ability to be a photographer becomes so widespread that anyone can do it, will there still be a need for professional photography? Fortunately, I believe there is a long while before even the most skilled of amateurs will have the ability to create some of the works of our greats, but perhaps the safest place to be is in the high-high-end where you can still get paid.
—Alexandra Niki, Founder, Resource Magazine


LONG SHOT
I have no problem with professional photographers using cell phones in addition to their pro gear, but I’m not certain they will be using it to retain a stronghold in the industry. In one of [New York Times technology columnist] David Pogue’s articles, he pointed out that you can’t build a machine the size of an iPhone with a sensor of a sufficient size and a zoom lens—something’s gotta give. A iPhone to replace some of the simpler point-and-shoots will continue, but we are a long way before it’s an even exchange.
—Henry Posner, Director of Corporate Communications, B&H


MAKING NEWS
As someone in the news business, I can say that cell phones and mobile apps have given all visual journalists more options to tell stories. Production quality doesn’t matter if a story is good enough, and sometimes a phone is the only—or more convenient—option. Even traditional print reporters can add to their stories by reaching into their pocket and pressing record.
—Kenneth Christensen, Staff Videographer, 
Crain’s New York Business

WORKFLOW RULES

I don’t think professional photographers—and I mean in that in the truest sense of the word—have anything to worry about. You can’t pull an Instagram photographer out of the blue and ask them to shoot a wedding, food, cars, people, etc. They won’t be able to deliver color-corrected files in multiple resolutions, labeled correctly, etc. Professional photography consists of a professional workflow. If current and potential clients are searching for their next photographer over social media, then make sure your work is there for them to see. Show these photography pop stars what the work of a consummate professional looks like. We all have access to the same filter; it’s your eye and the ability to use it that will make the difference.
—Adam Sherwin, Executive Producer, Resource TV

CONTENT COUNTS

A lens is a lens, but content is king! I’m not sure who was the first one to say it, but “the best camera is the one you have with you,” and that certainly applies to the tremendous importance of mobile. But as a professional photographer, the thing that makes you exceptional isn’t the device—it’s your ability to use the device to communicate visually, affect people emotionally and motivate them to act.
—Scott Braut, VP of Content, Shutterstock

GET PERSONAL

The idea of maintaining a stronghold on the industry (or any industry) is somewhat of an outdated concept. Consumers, clients, and technology continually evolve. I see more and more of the top photographers using their camera phones and small point-and-shoots to take personal photos of everyday things and moments. These images are unscripted moments with more freedom and spontaneity. And that stream is, essentially, an ongoing dialogue between the photographers and their followers. It is simply photographers adapting their abilities to new technological opportunities and embracing those opportunities.
—Victor Wang, Owner, BLAST DIGITAL+STUDIO

Q:Video is now streaming in 5K, but will it have a significant effect on still photographers extracting stills from video?



INDUSTRY SPLIT

I think you’re going to see a division in the industry. The people who can afford to use the RED camera will go one way, and the people shooting video with their 5D Mark IIIs will go another. The Mark III is a smaller, more manipulatable product that’s going to look and feel different in its rhythm and choreography than shooting with a great, big 35mm-sized and shaped camera. Now, if the Black Magic camera ever hits stands, that could be an interesting game-changer. They say it’s a 100 percent video camera and ultra-high-resolution quality in a much smaller package. That could be the bridge from one to another.
—Henry Posner, Director of Corporate Communications, B&H

STICK TO STILL

I believe in the end, photographers don’t want to have a million photos to edit, so they stick with their 1,000 photos and call it a day. Until the technology can meet the workflow needs of today’s busy photographers, image-makers are going to struggle to pull stills from video whether it be 4K, 5K or even 8K.
—Alexandra Niki, Founder, Resource Magazine

ON THE FRINGE

I see it as a negligible impact at this point. Projects that require shooting 5K video have large budgets and are looking for the highest resolution and highest quality, so it is unlikely that they will skimp on the quality for stills (if that is something they need) and are often shooting medium format versus 35mm (which 5K does not come close to at this point). There are instances where people are doing still-frame capture from 5K video, but it is still something on the fringe and is usually for technological publicity purposes rather than high-end commercial image capture.  
—Victor Wang, Owner, BLAST DIGITAL+STUDIO


 

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