Good Riddance to 2009. Here's to fun photography in 2010

I can't imagine many years more screwed up for more reasons than 2009.  What a hard stop to a frenetic decade.  As my friend, Steve, reminded me this morning all decades seem wild and crazy while we're living through them.  Over time you realize that every year is strange and the ones that aren't strange are strange by virtue of not being strange.

It was a year that saw turmoil in every industry and the photography industry certainly was not spared.  While the economy was a major driver I do feel that the change is more systemic and long lasting.  When the economy recovers the photo industry may look entirely different and the opportunities may be initially hard to divine.

I have a few predictions for 2010 and beyond but first I want to comment on the sometimes vitriolic responses to yesterday's blog.  Many assumed I was attacking specific Flickr groups or leveling criticism at some of the luminaries who highlighted various trends.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The guts of my argument was that you don't learn anything from mindless imitation.  And that a tidal wave of homogenous images does not move the ball forward for anyone.  I'm calling for people to create and define their own individual styles and not to conform like automatons to groupthink when it comes to imaging.

People think this all happened when we achieved digital saturation but I think it happened when digital camera manufacturers took away aspect ratio choices and aimed for accuracy in their color rather than differentiation.  Digital limited our choices while making us learn new ways of doing things and many ran for cover in the safety of copying successful work.  There's nothing wrong with Flickr.  And there's everything wrong with the idea of Flickr-ization.  Use it as a tool.  Not as an crutch for uninspired creative process.

To all the guys making a living teaching people stuff.  More power to you.  To all the people who think our intellectual properties laws are outmoded constructs I hope one day you are able to create something exciting and new after years of experimentation and hard work.  Then you'll understand that intellectual property wants to have value.

Okay.  The hell with all that.  Here are my predictions:

1.  2010 will be a much better year economically than 2009.  Just feel it in my bones.

2.  Video, as an adjunct to a photographic business will be a non-starter but as an adjunct to existing
      video production companies the adaptation of cameras like the Canon 5D mk2 and the
       Panasonic      GH1  will mean that they will start to offer clients still images in addition to video.
       It's going to get interesting.

3.  Instruction photo books will start to fade as a profitable market since the industry and the tools are
     moving so fast.  People will be drawn to e-books on platforms like the to be announced Apple
     tablet because updates will be included in the selling price and will become available instantly.

4.  The workshop craze will continue with greater and greater emphasis on "hands on" shooting for
     participants but the workshops will be taken over and run by savvy event companies and
     individual teachers will be co-opted in to the system.

5.  This will be the year that millions of photographers will reject heavy, last century DSLR models
     and embrace new paradigms like Olympus and Panasonic's Micro 4:3rds format cameras.

6.  Story telling will challenge individual, stand alone images.  This will require pre-planning, writing
     conceptual thinking, and effective image editing.

7.  Large corporations will use more blends of still and digital video imaging.  Large video displays will begin to totally replace conventional, printed signage.

8. The commercial photographers who are successful will learn how to compete against the concept of stock and will revitalize high end assignment photography.  Companies will demand it as they attempt to differentiate their messages.

9. Labs will finally figure out how to monetize regular post production just like they learned to
    process film and contact sheets.  This will free up creators from the routine work of correcting files
    making web galleries and burning DVD's.

10.  We'll learn to monetize content on the web and make money beyond the "click thru" advertising
      model.  As someone said,  "make something people really want and they will buy it."

Me?  I think great portraits will always be a marketable niche.  I'm up for more swimming, more portrait shooting and new breakthroughs in the generation of better and better coffee.  I'm writing one more photo book.  After that I'm concentrating on doing my art.  And doing my vision better than any one in the world.

Whether you agree or not I hope you have a great 2010 and that we all kick off a decade of happiness, growth, kindness and understanding.  I hope that we all learn how to be nicer on the web and in real life.  Finally, I hope we all learn that photography is almost never "life and death" and maybe we should all just lighten up and have fun with it.  Competition is so overrated.  Happy New Year to everyone!


Daniel Fealko said...

And a very Happy New Year back to you Kirk.

I predict we'll see another great year of insightful, thought-provoking, and sometimes agitating, Kirk Tuck blog posts.

Kurt Shoens said...

#4 is already well in place (Santa Fe, DLWS, Kelby stuff, ...). Folks doing workshops with a limited number of participants will continue to be immune.

#5: yay!

#7: gee I hope you're wrong about that. On my freeway commute I pass a huge very bright sign that shows various still images (mostly text). If they switch to video I predict frequent traffic accidents. Google does well with text-only ads. How pleased are you to see a web page with things moving?

#9: my prediction: custom processing will be done offshore where the labor is cheaper. ($5/image! No! $1/image! No! 5 cents/image!)

Here's to good health, good business, and just plain fun in 2010.

Wink of an eye Digital said...

Well if not Orwellian certainly Kirkian (did I just make up a word?)
Regardless of flickr bites and positioning...none of which is deserved by you ( I was going to chime in yesterday but....no need...as you can defend yourself quite well.
I have always admired your work and have been following for 2 years and enjoy your "kirkian" style.

Happy 2010
#10 would be a good way to gain control of art again by the artist...we shall see....but I see more of "who moved my cheese?"
Change is here and it is a train coming our way


Rockhopper said...

Everyday is an adventure every mistake a lesson learnt , every stranger a friend,

Its a box that collects light,

It doesnt shine, or doing anything marvellous that is down to the person holding it,

the day I dont make someone smile when holding my little box of light is the day that im saddest.

My job is sometimes a nightmare, sometimes a pleasure, but the moment I release the shutter I am secretly happy.

2009 has gone and 2010 is my new wdventure,


Noons said...

If all else fails, just go out with a camera and record an image that strikes you: http://tinyurl.com/yjnzy5n
Yes, it's stirred! Of course it's not technically perfect. But how else could one make lights look like birds? Photoshop? No thanks!

Love your series of posts on basic image making approach. About time folks stopped wasting time with pixel-peeping and started to take photos!

Film, digital, dslr, 4:3s, I don't care. Just grab a camera, go out and take a photo of something you like that doesn't need 10 hours of PS post work.

That's what amateur photography is all about.

Matt Eder said...

What's a 5D MkII? People buy those things? ;)

Happy New Year, Kirk!

Mandáš said...

My best wishes to you too, Kirk! I do subscribe your line of thought, and it will be nice to see what happens in this new decade!

Maria Vargos Lewis said...

Kirk, just found your blog a month ago. You are a perfect example of how giving the web can be, you have not a selfish bone in your body.

Thank you for making me proud to be a photographer.

A happy new year to you and yours,

M. V. Lewis

montestevens said...

Interesting predictions and some I had not thought of. I've just started following your blog so I'm not familiar with Kirkian but will gain knowledge from it over the coming year. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

#5) Amen to that!

The future is "Pocket Photography", if you can't get it in your coat pocket then don't lug it about with you.

I know Kirk you've been banging on about Olympus digital for a while now so I knew you had to have a point. Just got myself a tiny E-410 for when I still need a DSLR and cannot believe how good it is - what a great designed camera, small, compact and just plain works.

Ron said...

Happy New Year, Kirk!

I like your predictions, they suggest some creative pondering, a la "what if". I think numbers 6, 8 & 10 tie together and will become the "way out" of the economic mess for commercial photographers. Differentiation for clients has been (and will be) the driving differentiation for photographers.

Looking forward to many more interesting "Kirkian" posts in 2010!

Justin S. said...

Happy New Year Kirk to you and yours.

If you are ever in Seattle look me up ... I will give you the ins and outs on good coffee. I mean ... really good stuff. The stuff that isn't readily sold outside of Seattle.

kirk Tuck said...

Kurt, What I really meant about event companies doing workshops is more on a grand scale rather than the 12-15 person model that Sante Fe and others have done. Envision 1200 people signed up for three days of workshops with 12 instructors, support staff, etc. Each person teaching seminars and demos twice a day to different groups.

It's the scale that will make it profitable. And the profit allows for after class model shoots, portfolio reviews and evening social events.

I did one of these in Dallas this Summer and it was also co-sponsored by Canon and several other manufacturers.

When I ran the numbers I concluded that the event company cleared about $60,000-$70,000 grand while still paying the eight instructors much more than they would have made at a traditional workshop.

I think events will represent the future.

Justin, I won't drink coffee I can see through.....

Anonymous said...

Kirk, 2009 is not the last year of this decade. Count your fingers: 1,2,,,,,9,10. You didn't start fom 0, and finish with 9, did you...

kirk tuck said...

Anonymous, yes. you are wrong. you do count 2000, and then 2001 and so on. When you get to 2009 even you will have found that you used all ten fingers. Decade over. All done. I didn't need my fingers, I used my slide rule. And my pedantic filter. And my math nerd repulsor beam.....

And so on.

Ranger 9 said...

Re #8: I think you're onto something. All it will take will be a few instances of some big marcom executive looking like a maroon because he used the same cheapo stock photo that his competitor used. (I'm surprised this hasn't happened more already.)

Then word will start going around the country-club locker rooms and corporate jet terminals that stock photos are bad mojo, and executives will find they can impress their colleagues by talking about how they need commissioned photos with a distinctive "look" that supports the corporate brand identity. Content providers who can talk that line and work with clients to develop that concept will be on the gravy train.

kirk tuck said...

Above is the last post I'll allow from the mathematically challenged. All literal math nerds are now warned. Sorry, wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk,

Hear, hear and all that. I too think we're in for a revealing year in imaging technology, now that the industry will probably have the nerve to poke their collective heads up from their financial bunkers. That we saw µ4/3 gear at all in 2009 seems a minor miracle. I'm hoping for wonderful things for this system from Panny, Oly and maybe even Fuji this year.

As to the whole year/numbering thing, I'll give the badly missed Douglas Adams the last word:




kirk tuck said...

RIck. That's hilarious. Should be required reading for the petulant posters. Bravo.

As to gear: Even though we spent evenings in the bunker I'd venture out during the day to buy the errant, free range 4:3rd camera or accessory. The year was not a total waste.

GOCGO Youth said...

Kirk, I LOVED the Flickerization piece even though I also love Flickr. It wasn't about "Flickr" directly and I too wonder if the Internet will make us all "me too" shooters. Just take a look at iStock Photo. The minute there is a neat or successful shot there are 48 exact look alikes. At any rate, I loved the piece and you have a great blog. Don't worry about pushing a few noses out of joint.