After the gold rush. Where is photography headed?

Almost a year ago I wrote a piece called, "The Graying of Traditional Photography." It has been one of the most read articles I have ever written and along with lots of page views came lots of comments from photographers who insisted that nothing has changed, that big, DSLR cameras would continue to sell to "serious" photographers in record numbers and that I just didn't get the market. Well, I'll admit one thing, I underestimated just how quickly the market for traditional cameras, and the penchant for making traditional photographs, would erode. 

I am convinced that the market moves like huge schools of fish. The vast majority of the market travels together in a tight pack and when the direction of the pack or school changes it does so almost instantly and dramatically. It's not like market acceptance that follows a certain curve. In embracing new products or new product categories there are early adopters who live to discover the next cool thing. Then there's the group of cool kids who start the buying process. They are followed by the bulk of the market and trailed by late adopters who are careful and good at resisting change. 

But what we're seeing in photography right now is not really the adoption of a new standard or product. People are not just moving from one type of camera to another they are moving to a new mental space about personal imaging and they have just done it en masse. 

The market for traditional, stand alone, cameras started to fall off a cliff last Fall and the evisceration of the market has just continually accelerated. I contend that this precipitous drop is NOT because the market for cameras as "one purpose" appliances is saturated but because it is being abandoned by an overwhelming number of the (non professional) buying public. They have met their phones and they are now in committed relationships with their phones. 

It's not that new cameras aren't filled with great features it's just that they only do one thing. They just take photographs. With your Samsung or Apple smartphone you can shoot stills, switch to video, send and receive images, check the weather, call your boyfriend, get a stock quote, pay for your coffee, shoot amazing slow motion videos, call your mom, group text your friends, watch a movie or read a book. Once you take a photo you can share it instantly, post process it right on the spot and directly upload it to Instagram or another of the thousands of sharing sites spread across the internet.

Here's my anecdotal evidence supporting my contention that the bulk of people are no longer interested in buying stand alone cameras or pursuing "serious" (non-social) photography anymore: Every year the City of Austin holds a festival on east Sixth Street. It's called the Pecan Street Festival. There are blocks and blocks of tents and booths selling arts, crafts and crap. More turkey legs and gorditas and assorted fried food than you can imagine.  And, of course, this section of Sixth Street is famous for it's concentration of bars and night clubs. It's the long time center of the day to day Austin music scene. It draws a huge crowd.  I drop by most years to enjoy the weird crowd vibe. 

In the last five or six years the photographers who descended on the festival nearly outnumbered the regular audience. Everyone had a Canon Rebel or a the equivalent Nikon. When Strobist flash craze hit its peak nearly every other photographer had at least one flash in their arsenal and a friend to hold it far off camera. Collectively the photographers worked the crowds like tuna fishermen with huge nets. It was not uncommon to meet up later at a favorite coffee shop to compare greatest (photo) hits from earlier in the day. Many times the same subject would come up over and over again. The musician wearing a fake wolf head, the dog in the guitar case, the enormous woman shoveling funnel cakes into her mouth, the guy with the big sombrero. 

In the two years previous to this one the video craze hit full blast and every fourth or fifth photographer was now accompanied by a "sound man" who held a microphone on a boom and they waded through the crowd looking for people to interview and performers who would perform for the cameras. Every festival downtown looked like a media event.

That brings us to yesterday. Same festival, new year. The weather was great with temperatures in the low eighties and the humidity mild. The Austin economy continues to be robust. The festival attracted a huge audience. So what was missing? Well, the traditional cameras. And the mirror less cameras. And the high end, cult, point and shoot cameras. In the two hours that I walked through the same eight or so blocks filled with people I saw, at most, five people with cameras.  Of the five four were well over fifty years old. The fifth was a father with a young family. He had the camera strapped across his chest and his focus was on his kids. 

Of course I am not making any statement to the effect that all of a sudden ALL photography dried up and went away but I will contend that the vast, overwhelming majority of images taken throughout the event were selfies or groupies taken with cellphones. The "school" of casual photographers followed the pilot fish and turned on a dime. And now they've headed in a different direction. 

Am I full of crap? You could get all scientific and ask for statistics from the camera industry. Thom Hogan posts numbers from CIPA and other industry sources all the time. What do they say? They clearly say that sales of single purpose cameras (traditional cameras of all kinds) are falling and have fallen over the edge of a steep cliff and they continue to decline. There may be a few bright spots in the numbers but mostly these bright spots are occurring at the high end of the market and not at the lower end or the middle. Leica sales are up! All point and shoot sales (with the exception of Leica) haven fallen so far that it's shocking. And it's not just that camera sales are down (or views on major photo sites have dropped) my day to day experience is that people are no longer carrying their conventional cameras with them as everyday tools. Non-phone cameras are drying up in the living urban landscape

My feeling is that photography in it's traditional form, when practiced as a hobby, has changed permanently. The emphasis is now (for the masses) on recording the experiential high points in everyday lives. The snap of your lunch. The snap of you and your bestie shopping. The snap of just about any event you happen to live through, from concerts to minor surgery. The difference between this kind of imaging and the work we did before is that it's the sharing that matters and not the actual form. Content? Yes. Rules of thirds and high dynamic ranges? Not so much. The vast majority of imaging is no longer even shared on computer screens it's consumed on phones. On small screens, in various locations. The photo is no longer an artifact or a historical residue it has now become, fully, an instant consumable. Each person seems to be creating their own personal, day by day advertising campaign----for themselves.

So where does that leave all of us who love the idea of creating a lasting visual artifact. A piece of art that can stand alone away from the commentary of its original creator? I'm going to say that your guess is probably as good as mine. 

But I will echo something I've been hearing from people who are on the business side of photography: the market for paid assignments is starting to improve and budgets are starting to improve. The overall market for imaging content seems to be regressing to its normal state. The huge success of digital imaging in popular culture in the last decade created a boom in the industry, the likes of which we hadn't seen since the easy-to-use SLR started showing up in every college student's backpack in the early 1970's. Everyone wanted to be a National Geographic photographer until they saw the movie, "Blow Up." and once they saw the movie the real desire was to be a fashion photographer. Photo programs at colleges and high schools blossomed, no ERUPTED at the time and the professionals of the day felt the press of endless new entrants to the market. But eventually the novelty wore off and the reality of the work sunk in. 

I think we have just gone through a similar period in which everyone was amazed to find that the new cameras took away a huge chunk of the technical impediments to doing sellable photography. With the ease of photography increasing at the same time the overall financial markets devastated the jobs market for a whole generation of college students many who couldn't find jobs tried to make a go of various freelance oriented professions. Since photography (on its surface) didn't seem to require a proficiency in either math or writing it was a natural for people with a low portfolio of general skills to at least try. 

At the same time beleaguered companies who could have benefitted from original, branded imagery got scared and fell back on an ever cheapening collection of stock images. At one point in the not too distant past it seemed as though photography as a career would disappear, except in the most specialized niches. 

But we seem to be in the middle of a course correction. Clients who need inventive product images that require good lighting understand the value. Clients who need great shots of their people have come back to request expertise in lighting, posing and getting the right expression. And a generation of people have found that they much prefer a steady paycheck to the wild gyrations of being self-employed in an arts field. 

I think there is a sense of some sadness amongst those of us who liked being part of a global love affair with photography in that the core audience for our images is shrinking and changing. The love fest on Flickr and other share sites is less effusive and feverish. The loss of a massive audience also means that product introductions are slowing to a crawl from our traditional camera makers (see the recent Photokina...) and that has an effect on a nascent industry built on the breathless anticipation of the next technical breakthrough. It almost feels like someone let the air out of a balloon...

Me? I'm still just working. I'm reminding clients of how much expertise my company has in providing lighting for still and video imaging. I'm reminding decades loyal clients of how at ease we help make their people feel during portrait sessions. I am reminding agencies of the skill sets we've developed to do larger production shoots with many moving parts. And I am showing new clients who are making a first time move from "good enough" cellphone imaging providers fun things like just how much difference a tripod makes on an architectural shot. How much sharper and better an image can be when you use the right lens, etc. We're also showing them that we can give them repeatable results and that a cohesive look is critical in effective branding. 

So, is the decline of popular popularity of photography a worrisome thing? No, not really. The general population now uses imaging as a kind of language. That's the nature of the kinds of working images they want and use in their personal lives. It's a living language. As professionals we do something different. We translate creative concepts into two dimensional images. In video we don't just show how things look we create visual narratives that tell a complete story. 

Where does that leave me as a hobbyist? Actually, it feels nice to have a hobby, love, appreciation, desire for a field that is undergoing diminishing popularity. The flood of endless stuff seem to have slowed down. If we speak a different language than the other 99% of image makers (mass culture) then there's more signal and less noise in the marketplace for our vision. 

It's a sea of constant change and I won't pretend that I understand it better than anyone else but so much of what's been done in the last decade was really about the creation of a new visual language that the man and woman in the street could speak fluently and own. It's been assimilated. But that doesn't mean that other art forms in photography can no longer exist. The cameras that people cut their digital teeth on were predicated on the last century idea that images would be printed, large. The reality is that they are shared, small. That's another reason for the shift in cameras and camera sales. 

It doesn't mean there is NO market for a Nikon D810 or an OMD it's just that the people who need and want those cameras are speaking a different language from the majority of users who are happy to share on a five inch screen. Nothing wrong with that. 

What happens when the "gold rush" is over? Um. We get back to living our lives and adjusting to the new realities in the market place.  

An editorial note: I've discontinued my use of Facebook and Twitter. If you've used those platforms to communicate with me in the past you might just want to e-mail me. Otherwise, leave a comment. Everything changes!  Thanks.


Mike said...

As always, an interesting, well-thought-out and thought- provoking blog.

Dave Jenkins said...

Pretty much what I wrote in my comment to your "Red Flowers in the Hill Country" post.

I do feel sorry for the grandkids of this generation, who will have no family visual history to look at, as we have looked at treasured prints of our grandparents, parents, and ourselves as children, because very few of these millions of cell phone snaps will ever be downloaded and saved (and most of the ones that are saved will be lost in computer crashes or transfers). Just another aspect of our current "Me" generation.

Andy deBruyn said...

Sadly spot on. I'm glad that I'm of the generation that got to know and appreciate Brassai, Paul Strand, HCB, the Westons, Wynn Bullock, Eugene Richards, and so many other wonderful dedicated craftsmen and craftswomen.
I believe you are correct, there's a new language in town.
That said, long live light meters, tripods, the back, the fill, and key lights...and yes, good conversation in the process.

bishopsmead said...

I do so agree with you . . . . exactly my thoughts over the past year or so . . . .

I have recently re-discovered the joy of some of my old Nikon glass adapted to Fujifilm X bodies . . . . I can see to manually focus again and the EVFs are good enough . . . . could be faster, could be bigger . . . . but I am in control of my DOF again, not hoping for the best with autofocus lenses because I can't see well enough anymore to manually focus with my Nikon bodies. Yours is the second website I visit every day (after BBC News), I am always interested in what you have to say even when sometimes I don't agree with you . . . .

Frank Grygier said...

The Brownie the Instamstic and now the smartphone.I could possibly be the birth of the next generation of hobbiest who hear the siren call of fast glass and big pixels. Or not!

Unknown said...

On occasion I participate in a local club photo meet up events. Many of the participants post their images, and some even post iPhone images. I have been surprised to see that very often the iPhone images "look" better than the images taken with some expensive gear. Granted, spending lots of money on your gear does not equate to knowing what to do with it. The cell phone cameras have been accepted because they deliver good images. Many of the new phones have surprisingly fast AF, IS, HDR, and other features that don't require a training class to use. They are simple to use and produce very good images that look good when posted to various web sites. The mainstream camera Mfg. expect us to pay upward of $1,000 for decent glass, which is what the annual cell phone contract cost with much more functionality. The masses are smart, the camera mfg. are starting to loose money.

Unknown said...

I do think that Dave's comment, although completely sincere, manages both to miss the point and blame the current generation for our sins (sorry Dave).

The point is that the way people relate to images has changed forever, and we (boomers) created the change by relentlessly selling tv, video games, smart phones, etc, to our kids. it likely would have happened anyway, but we made it happen faster so that we could make more money. It does seem unfair, after subjecting them to a relentless barrage of commerce, to blame "this generation" for actually paying attention. Then, there's all the neuroscience. Besides, as someone who recently cleaned out his childhood home, I wish my parents had fewer prints, most of which I chucked, and more, well any really, digital images, which I might have saved and shared.

Perhaps an unintended consequence will be that actual prints on paper will become special again. Hey, it could happen.

John Dana

roxics said...

You're right, things are changing. I'm in my mid thirties and have a couple friends that are now having kids. They're shooting everything on smart phones. One family shooting on their Galaxy phones and the other family on their iPhones.

I've told them all, invest in a DSLR. They all agree in theory, but then look at the price of even an entry level DSLR and turn to their smartphones.

This entire generation of kids are going to have stylized Instagram photos of their childhood. Someting about that kind of turns me off, as much as I also love shooting with my smartphone.

But as you say, the fact that most of the market is even turning away from $600 DSLRs means that those of us with the higher end gear and skillset to us it, will again rise to the occasion when called upon as a service when these folks want nicer photography.

Des said...

Does this mean I may have trouble selling my enlarger and darkroom equipment?

Anonymous said...

It's funny how quickly things change in photo world. Everyone is now a photographer, because they have smartphone...

Ray said...

Many of the 'selfie' generation, I think, will have a void in their lives to some degree, as they won't have many (if any) really lasting and meaningful photos they can look back on in later life. Moreso, I'm not sure that the children and grandchildren of the 'selfie' generation will have anything to see of their parents and grandparents that would be meaningful to them in another era. The pendulum always keeps swinging.

Wally said...

Everything that is old is new again.

Back in the day the kodak prints from your instamatic camera came in 4x6 which is about the size of a modern smart phone!

The bread and butter of camera and film industry was made by volumes of 4x6 prints orders by ametures shooting plastic lens cameras!

Can you remember the slogan "Open Me First"

James Pilcher said...

I resist the sea change in photography, as real as it is. I use my 45 years of personal images as a retreat to refresh my soul, bringing to the forefront moments forgotten, but recorded.

Physical photographs are like salt for your memories: Your steak may taste OK, but add a bit of salt to taste and it can be so much better.

Ananda Sim said...

I love life journaling in photos. That’s my hobby as is just being in love with the technicalities of the gear and the aspects of creating a visual. I use cameras as the primary tool and cam phones as the secondary.

Many, many people use camera phones as their only tool but they prioritise themselves or their friends and family as the focus, art, clarity of the scene is secondary - they are primarily capturing the WE, secondly the incident - clarity and detail of the scene is last.

In other words, different purposes.

John Krumm said...

This is definitely a period of, as George would put it, "shrinkage." But it's not just that photography habits are changing, I suspect the amount of art we make of all forms is shrinking. We use our time differently, and chop it into smaller pieces.

Unknown said...

I cannot speak specifically to what you witnessed at the festival except to say that when I travel I see an awful lot of aps-c dslrs.

Camera sales are in decline because the market is saturated and almost any advanced camera is now "good-enough." Those who want them have them and don't have a strong incentive to buy something new.

I see lots of young people on flickr, tumblr, etc. shooting film, shooting with FF Canons. That dedication and interest in photography still looks strong to me. There's an entire new generation coming up and they aren't making phones their primary cameras.

If cell phones have replaced P&Ss, are the rest of the numbers really that different than in the past?

Bill said...

You dropped Twitter and Facebook. Does this mean you're headed over to Ello?

Unknown said...

Are smartphones fulfilling the old Kodak slogan "You press the button and we do the rest." The “rest” being everything you mentioned in your blog post. There is one other thing that you mentioned as well that should prove to be the saving grace, “…we create visual narratives that tell a complete story.” The world loves a good story.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Patrick, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you. I've noticed a huge reduction in the number of cameras out in the wild all over the place this year. I don't believe that as many young people are adopting the traditional habit. I also pay attention to people in my son's age group (18) and notice a decline in their interest in cameras. I am on the advisory board of the 3rd or 4th largest two year college photography department in the U.S. and we saw a rapid decline in registration for all photo classes that started last Spring and got worse in the Fall. Finally, I have relationships with the marketing people at three different camera companies who are all reporting declines, especially in the younger demographics.

I would postulate that trends start and end first in the most cutting edge social environments and there is a lag in adoption or rejection of trends in secondary markets. I imagine the decline started in San Francisco or Seattle and is working its way into less trendy markets over time.

But my basic observations are well backed by numbers and statistics from a variety of sources.

Photography, for most people, is undergoing a profound change.

Merle said...

There is Panasonic's new camera phone. It'll be interesting to see where that goes. Will it be enough better than a normal smartphone to justify the bulk?

Bill said...

I was on a one-week cruise (7 Sep to 14 Sep) out in the Caribbean. I took my E-M5 and a couple of lenses with me.

What I noticed is that the overwhelming majority of people were using smart phones. I noticed that many older folks (older than me) were using iPads. And then it hit me; they could see the image much better on the iPad than a much smaller smart phone.

The very few DSLRs I saw were overwhelmingly Nikon. I saw exactly one other E-M5, and I saw someone with a NEX. I saw two tourists with Nikon D800s and consumer grade 28-300mm zooms on both of them.

Note that the population on the boat was skewed towards older users, but regardless, they still preferred using smart devices rather than DSLRs or any other stand-alone camera.

Felt kind of lonely.

Dave Jenkins said...

I think I neither miss the point nor blame the current generation, John Dana, although I certainly did not coin the term "Me generation."

Neither am I faulting the use of cell phone cameras. They are the Brownies and Instamatics of this generation. Nothing wrong with that.

However, I think that most casual cell phone snapshooters are inadvertently cheating themselves and their descendants of a visual heritage, because most do not download or save their photographs. That's not sinful; it's simply sad.

Jeff said...

The photographs taken with cell phones by young people feel permanent. Their span of years is short compared to our been through 2+ decades of computer issues. Software puts phone photos on the pc for them, thus a kind of backup. Uploaded to facebook or other site, they're always there (another kind of backup), so why would they suddenly disappear. Even if phone is damaged, the photos & stuff are usually transferred to new phone.

Kurt Holter said...

I shoot corporate and institutional events. Two data points:

At a recent college reunion I've shot for over 20 years, attendees were far more interested in having their group photos taken by friends and relatives on their phones than they were in me shooting the "official" photos, even though they all knew they'd be receiving my pictures at no charge.

At a recent very high end corporate client appreciation program at a significant national landmark and picturesque location, out of about 800 people, I spotted exactly one camera in the hands of a guest. I'd guess that at least several hundred photos were taken by guests with their phones.

Anonymous said...

Des said…
Does this mean I may have trouble selling my enlarger and darkroom equipment?

It depends. The top notch equipment market is better than two years ago here in Germany. Low price stuff, I don't know, and I don't need to know ;-)

I bought a Leitz V35 and the best Schneider lens five years ago for € 80 each. Now they are 3-4x more on ebay.

Abacus Photography said...

Thanks for this Kirk, hope you are right. College enrolments for photography courses, may of course be down simply because the public are starting to realise how hard it is to make a living in this field these days. New camera sales may be down because most current gear is more than good enough, these days.

Dave Jenkins said...

Really, Jeff? Their cell phone pictures may be backed up, more or less, and after a fashion, but are their children and grandchildren going to be able to find them?

Unknown said...

Kirk, disagreement accepted. You have a lot better info to reference than I do.

I guess what I'm always curious about in these sorts of discussions (and they come up in lots of different fields these days), is the "real and true" numbers adjusted for population increase. In other words, in the case of photography, is the breakdown of users and equipment really different than it was in say the mid-80s?

But perhaps I'm missing the point and asking the wrong questions?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great article. For some of us the image that is interesting to strangers, that speak to our needs, or desires and our souls are the work of what I call photographic artists. It is now possible for anyone to take a technically perfect crappy picture. The two things an artist needs is competence with his camera and a creative mind. Now those with a creative mind and minimal technical skill can create photographic art. And they are neither helped nor hindered by the total crappy pictures taken or the total number of new cameras marketed and sold. These newly empowered artists are making great pictures and the work will rise to prominence. In the meantime, the "selfie" generation will enjoy their cameras or phones in their own way. Is this a great country or what?

Jerry Kircus

Michael Matthews said...

So what's not to like?

As more and more people find they now have permission to use their phones instead of cameras, more and more good, under-used, like new, high-end gear will be dumped into the marketplace, depressing prices. Other people, those who have an interest in the finer points of the final image, will be able to afford them.

We still could benefit from a guide to buying and selling used equipment.

Anonymous said...

Last year I went around the world. I took my D7100 and a few slow lenses, my cellphone, and my Nexus 7 tablet for internetting and to read my guide books on. What did I have the most fun with? Sharing our impressions with the photos I took with the tablet with folks back home each evening on the web. The pictures I took with my camera camera looked better, but I couldn't get them off the SD card easily to share them when my wife said, "that's a good one. Why don't you post it?"
Kirk, you've hit it spot on. Photography and imaging now is another channel of immediate communication. The value of images for the most part is their immediacy, not their technical perfection. Everyone's seen those sorts of images before, and you can buy several of them and fill up a wall of your house for the price in both money and time of the equipment to do such things yourself.
While I still prefer to see the world through a good viewfinder, the one- or two-trick ponies that are the traditional cameras don't really cut it as well. At a minimum - they need to have some way of wireless sharing built in. Sort of like what Samsung is doing better than others of late. Of this new generation of cameras, the stuff that Panasonic is putting out is most compelling. Small, extremely high quality, photgrapherish if you want it. But oh, for a big, bright viewfinder like what you'd find on an XT-1...
A year ago I bought my last DSLR with the vague sense that it might also be the last camera I couldn't resell - eventually. I didn't expect that time to come so soon, but all of a sudden it looks to be much closer. Maybe as near as this summer.
Strangely, I'm not that sad about the whole thing. The new paradigm is really what photography is all about...we've just gotten lost in all of the technicality it previously required. Sort of like diehard manual shift guys realizing that their new automatic trannies do the job better and let them have more fun just driving.

Russ Fortson said...

Dang, now I'm depressed. I was starting to pick back up on my photo mojo and was cruising the photo blogs. Now you tell me it's dying. Hard to argue with your points. I guess I can take up wood turning.

Jim Tardio said...

I think it's a good trend. Art should evolve. Some of these iphone pics that I see from these kids are incredible...and don't even get me started on the gopro stuff.

Just roll with it.

Clay O said...

The value of art is the effect it has on the viewer and on the maker. The girls in the selfie picture don't care about any of that - but you as the artist captured just that certain expression, the hair just so, and made a comment on what you were seeing. You got the benefit of crystallizing your thinking, and we get the benefit of something to ponder. It's up to us who care about such things to support the arts, so there will always be those who can make a living creating the work that has a beneficial effect on us.

Anonymous said...

During the 60s and 70s my mom shot slide film. We went to some pretty exotic locations. And of course she took pictures of birthday parties and the like. I've seen very few of those photos. If I do see them, it will require getting to a remote location and maybe trying to find a slide projector. But most likely - to preserve the photos and make them easily accessible and easy to duplicate - I'll scan them to digital.


Fred said...

I liked this post and the ones of a similar vein that you have posted recently Kirk.
I have felt for a while that a lot of phone-ography is not intended to to be like "traditional" photography but more like vocabulary, that is it is just part of the text.
We live in interesting times. I am not throwing out my film cameras, I am looking to get an other digital camera, and I am thinking about upgrading my phone. And I can't wait for what is next.

Anonymous said...

Bang on the money. Another trend that should worry the manufacturers is that many of the (few) under 30 year old kids I see with interchangeable lens cameras, at least in my part of the world (East London) are carrying old film SLRs like ME Supers and AE-1s. I guess that once the immediate image is covered by the phone you may as well shoot film for fun/art...

theaterculture said...

Funny, I was just mentioning in a discussion on another site how many of my university students are using the computer lab again, after almost none did for years, to the point that one of the libraries I regularly use has brought back a bunch of old desktops to expand capacity. Their smartphones and tablets are good enough at email and web browsing that many don't feel a need to own a P.C., provided they can get access to one when a paper is due.

Seems entirely plausible to me that such "good enough" swiss-army-devices will hollow out the middle of the market for lots of traditional electronic goods (watches, cameras, computers, gps units) and leave only the specialized users shopping for specialized devices that will cost more.

Anonymous said...

What Kirk says is true. It's almost like overnight everyone's real cameras went AWOL. Now my friends who used to be into the latest gear are into their phones and tablets instead.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that as photo fans we are interpreting a much larger phenomenon as though it were simply a camera phenomenon.

People just don't don't do hobbies anymore, especially where they fiddle with things.

The demographics for hi-fi, motorcycles, home workshops, etc, even enthusiast automobiles, are aging rapidly.

Add to this that the new price of nice cameras today is much higher than it was at the flower of the hobby of photography in the mid-60s, even allowing for inflation and comparable wages.

There were cheap alternatives to high end cameras all along: instamatics, brownies, kodaks of the 1880s, all designed for simplicity and targeted at the masses. Those didn't kill enthusiast cameras.

This is not to say that the even easier omnipresent simplicity of smart phones is not a big influence, it's just that it seems part of a bigger dynamic that seems to be going on.

Bold Photography said...

I'm finding myself using my cell phone "camera" more and more. Not because it takes good photos (outdoors, it's fine, but indoors, it's truly awful), but because I have it with me. I still use my 5DIII (I did a shoot for the Mosaic Children's theater yesterday, complete with lights and a formal background and the like), but it's just not getting as much use as it might otherwise get.

So yes, spot on regarding the trends.

My own direction is changing, radically and quickly. Are you free for a lunch?

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Bold, possible next week. E-mail me and we'll firm it up.