Red Flowers in the Hill Country.

Stop and smell the flowers?

It was an unusual day yesterday. I got up and went to swim practice. Had breakfast with Studio Dog and did little webby things. Then I went to the noon swim practice and afterwards had lunch with one of the young star swimmers. We were talking about the direction that "enterprise" seems to be taking. We each had anecdotal stories to tell of efficiency over humanity. Plans by major companies to eliminate as many human jobs as possible, replacing, for instance, retail clerks with iPad-based ordering systems, robots, consumer self-order software and the like. The gap widens.

We also looked at his iPhone 6. Specifically at the still camera and video capabilities. Suddenly, a thought jumped into my brain. I looked down at my Olympus EM-5 and what I saw, clearly, was a typewriter. Or a Burrough's data entry console.

I went home and took a nap. It's been years since I swam a double. I was tired. But recognizing social shifts also takes it out of you.  It's clear to me at this moment that we're going through a structural change. If you are smug about it then it just hasn't hit your area of expertise or your industry yet....

Typewriter. Do they even make the ribbons anymore?


Josh B said...

This guy only uses a typewriter.

Wally Brooks said...

Photography and the Zen of Photography paradigm shift.

Type Writer ribbons are still manufactured and sold!

In terms of Enterprise the portable dumb terminal is changing how business is done. However the back end of the process is still fraught with peril.

The Photography part comes in the paragraph below.

Take a Smartphone based payments service. Having your kewl incubator idea in place and not having the back end tied into the Point of Sale systems within the merchants who will accept your payments idea means the $30 Million you got in VC Funding just went up in smoke. Sorry to step on your Dream.

In terms of Photography using part of the process is just like having the “Lets develop a Ipad based incubator payments app- read the above paragraph again grasshopper- without the whole process down. Vision, skill at composition, tools to do post processing- a means to show you work, failure, getting and up and going at the craft again are all part of the process. Always learning more goes hand in hand with this process too.

Don’t want to take the time and effort? You are only doing the front end Kewl App and will end up wondering what happened when your VC money runs out. The camera means nothing the vision means everything. Can’t/don’t want to see the back end process? Look out for the pitfall. Pitfalls will gore you.

Jacques Gilbert said...

It is true that a lot of human jobs will be eliminated and we do not know what impact that will have on society. We can, however, look at the past.
Not long ago, the majority of able people were busy producing food, and apart from the few privileged ones, that left little time for anything else.
Then automation came to agriculture and a lot of jobs moved to industry. There were abuses and clashes, but the result was more "free" time for a lot more people to get an education, enjoy the arts, the sports, or just vacations. A lot of people were freed from mindless activity to work on scientific research, health care, and other less essential endeavors.
Then automation came to industry and a lot of jobs moved to services. There are still underpaid, under appreciated and very hard service jobs, but there are much fewer people breathing fumes 10 hours a day in hot, unsafe, factories and sweat shops.
Then automation came to the service sector, and then...? we don't really know. If we look at the last two hundred years, it is appears that the condition of most people living in the areas that have gone through these transitions has improved. A lot. Will it be the same? Can the trend continue for ever? It is not certain, but we can say for sure that eliminating jobs that did not require specific human abilities has had an overall beneficial effect.

John Krumm said...

Yes, they still make the ribbons, at least last time I checked. There's been a trend in retro typing for a while now. I guess people think it will help them focus, no email checking on the Smith-Corona, etc. Whatever works. Same for cameras. Now you can even be retro digital and shoot with an E-1 or your big Kodak, perhaps sporting a simple lcd watch from the early eighties.

Bonaventura said...


Frank Grygier said...

I may be on the verge of divesting my "typewriter" inventory before the bottom drops out on used typewriters. If you think the Em-5 resembles an antique give the x100s a look. Reminds me of a Gutenberg.

Jeff said...

You're too late Kirk, and so am I. Having gotten a new iMac last month and me a new laptop, we're doing it wrong.
On the other hand...

Mr said...

i love the red flower pic
it would make a wonderful painting!

Anthony Collins said...

In this era of wikileaks security services are looking back longingly to the time when a single typed copy was for their eyes only.

James Pilcher said...

You are right, Kirk. I, for one, can no longer keep pace. I feel increasingly overwhelmed. Yesterday's sensibilities no longer seem relevant in today's culture.

Hugh said...

The mobile phone is the Leica M of today.

Digbats said...

Look at the iphone and the way it already revolutionised photography.

Then see also how all the smart device manufacturers e.g. Samsung are pushing and innovating in this sector - it's sky rocketing. The camera modules get better and better, increasing resolution, sensitivity and read-out. The processing power gets more efficient. The software gets easier to use and more capable with each iteration.

The traditional camera sector is struggling.

It is not so difficult for me to figure out and imagine what form factor the "camera" of tomorrow will look like, and imagine the combined software/hardware possibilities of such a device. The finger driven in-device post-processing, cropping, automated distortion correction, selective de-focus, higher definition video snapshots with stills pulling and editing, all controlled in-device from the touch screen. The possibilities go on and on - and all in one smart connected device.

Photography will not die, but the traditional camera concept as we know it will wither away. Better get ready for the new photography...

Jason Hindle said...

Perhaps the E-5 is the word processor? One thing is clear; low end point and shoot is dead. I cannot say if the same will happen to the high end, interchangeable lens camera. A lot will depend on software (e.g. ability to simulate the bokeh characteristics of a range of lenses). Is the Print dead? The Tate Modern and The National Portrait Gallery would disagree.

That said, I agree with the broad thrust or what you're doing as a money making image maker. You have a duty of care to adapt and survive.

Digbats said...

Look at camcorders which have as consumer products all but disappeared. We now essentially only have high-end broadcast equipment or niche stuff like GoPro. The familiar consumer camcorders of yesteryear have been converged into the smart phone/tablet type connected devices.

I believe the same path will be taken by the traditional consumer camera, it could already be argued this has already happened, with most consumers content with a smart phone camera. It is just us enthusiasts and Pros that are hanging on to our old traditional cameras, we are thus already being left behind by those willing to invest themselves in the new forms of technology, those who do are now producing all the new original and interesting content.

Dave Jenkins said...

I really don't think it's time to panic quite yet. In fact, I don't think the sky is falling at all. What I think may be happening is a very welcome (to me, at least) re-establishment of the distinction between the snapshooter and the professional and the advanced amateur.

Snapshots are being taken by the millions, uploaded to Facebook, and have a half-life of about ten seconds. But when photographs of some importance need to be made, you don't grab the nearest guy with a cell phone, you hire someone with the three E's -- Experience, Expertise, and Equipment, to do the job right. Those who don't know the difference or can't see the difference soon learn the hard way, through expensive do-overs. (of course, some people NEVER learn. . .)

I do think that part of the fall-out will be that there will be many fewer professional photographers, and some kinds of photography will be largely lost to professionals. But those who possess the three E's and the public relations skills to make themselves known to potential buyers will thrive. The market will be smaller, but much less diluted by newbies trying to make it into the profession by selling inferior work at cut-rate prices.

Advanced amateurs will continue to buy and use more sophisticated cameras for their higher image quality, increased flexibility, and greater user satisfaction, although many will use cell phones for casual snaps.