Where Will Technology Take Us!

Technology today is amazing and a little scary to those of us that look beyond the excitement to the effects on our profession. We have professional and semi-professional cameras that produce HD Video to rival professional video camera costing 3 to 4 times the amount. In addition we have better and better software making it possible for any student with a decent amount of computer experience and a tripod able to create a fairly good quality video.  This sounds exciting unless you do video for a living and then you realize that each year technology takes more jobs away from those in the profession and lowers the amount the average client is willing to spend by lowering the needed experience and cost of equipment.

It seems like just a few years ago I sat through a Photoshop class to learn how to do a head-swop in a family portrait, which wasn’t all that much fun to do.  Now we have a Microsoft commercial with a lady taking her own family portrait for the holidays and the “cloud”  of Windows 7 swops head for her to “give her the family that nature didn’t”.  This seems fun and exciting, but it always shows the buying public how easy it is to create their family portrait themselves and then correct any problems with the available technology.  These are people who used to have to go to a professional photographer or have a cheesy looking snap shot on their Christmas Cards which made a public announcement to all their family and friends that they were Cheap!  These are the people who used to pay the bills of many local photographers and now they do it themselves.

I actually had a young lady on Facebook the other day send me message, telling me how amazing my portraits were and then asking if she actually had to pay to take pictures or could she just do it for fun?  While this one girl isn’t cause for alarm, how many times lately have you run a discount on one of your sessions and had people call in and ask if that price includes the package?  In our studio we have a Viper and Harley, more sets and backgrounds for seniors than any other studio in our area, as well as being in next to the busiest shopping area in our city and while the vast majority of our potential clients understand the price of quality senior portraits (thank God!) we are having more and more of these obviously dumb questions!  If a studio in our position, with all the visible signs for potential clients to see that we charge a fair amount for the work we create has people thinking the session fee is going to get them a package, what are the younger professional photographers without the nice studio and established reputation having to deal with?

It easy to bring an obvious problem to light, but much more difficult to look for solutions to these problems.  One photographer told me I was being too negative when I wrote an article about the lack of knowledge in our profession today, but how can we fix anything by ignoring the problem.  Sticking our head in the sand won’t make these issues go away.  The single biggest problem we have today is educating the buying public as to the difference between true profession photography and the images created at home or by a non-professional photographers.  Organization like PPA, WPPI and others need to focus their attention on educating the masses while there is still a profession to educate the masses about!  Local professional photographers need to work together to expose the local buying public as to what true professional photography is supposed to look like!  I get emails from wedding photographers all over the country that talk about brides not even knowing what good wedding photography is supposed to look like anymore.  Is that the brides fault or our own for not educating them as to what they should be look for.  We are so busy trying to one-up each other that we don’t take the time to preserve the potential clients all of us share!

I display portraits and talk with my potential clients when ever I can.  I want them to know why images from my studio are worth every penny we charge for them.  Since we contract some of our seniors, we do have seniors that go to other photographers or do their portraits themselves.  Even though these seniors might do their portraits themselves or go to the cheapest photographers they can find for economic reasons, when I talk with them, they make comments like, “we couldn’t afford to come to you, so we had a friend of the family take my senior photos, they don’t look anything like yours, but they are OK”.  A senior like this might not be my client today,  but they understand the worth of what we all do and that is what we have to all work toward!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on November 6, 2010.

2 Responses to “Where Will Technology Take Us!”

  1. I have brought this up to each PPA President fpor the past six years. They are more concerned with copyright protection (great for commercial photographers but useless for wedding and portrait photographers) They continually refuse to invest in educating the public.

  2. I really enjoy reading your blog and your photo books are a repository of useful information for all aspiring photographers. Thank you for continuing to put out such awesome insight.

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