As harsh as it may seem the truth is that odds are stacked against you if you want to be “successful” in photography. If you disagree with me continue reading.
1. The advent of the digital camera.
Digital cameras changed the rules of the game. Before the digital era there was a mystique about he art of photography. Photographer were like magicians with boxes who spoke in their special language, referencing incantations like f-stop and shutter speed. It was seen as specific skill set and with time you could really master your craft. The good photographer had to understand intimately the intricacies of light, how it moved, its texture , its depth. He or she had to use expeditiously a role of film. Digital photography was the great disruptor in the world of photography. Similarly to how Uber has disrupted the transport industry. The digital camera removed the holy grail and now the secrets were revealed to the world.
2. The Rise of Editing Software.
There was a time when film had to be brought to life in the dark room. The magician would disappear into a secret place and cast his magic spells, throwing together strangely named chemicals and magically our prints would appear. The rise of editing programs like Light room totally blew the doors of the dark room. It was another nail in the coffin.
3. The Invasion of Social Media.
Social media pervades every aspect of modern day life and with its rise photography has been downgraded from an art to simply picture taking. Selfies with smoothing apps and baby pics make up more 75% of what is uploaded on social media. Today images are considered disposable only existing briefly in someones photo stream. Due to the imaginable amount images uploaded every second of everyday we become immune to power of them, thus disregarding them. Its simple economics, the supply of images is so great it cheapens that value of them. In days gone by a photo was a tangible thing that one could experience viscerally. That has all changed. The name of the game is to now hunt for likes and followers. You have to learn when to post, what tags to use, who to follow. Its not about the image, it about conquering the algorithm. Those who attempt to live outside halls of social media quickly become forgotten and eventually succumb to its power.
4. The Camera Killer.
The ubiquitous camera on every mobile device was the beginning of the end. Anyone with a phone was now a “photographer”. More damaging however was the psychological shift on how photography was viewed by a new generation. To many photography was now nothing more than ever a disposable digital file. Concerns about composition and lighting were thrown out of the window. Don’t get me wrong camera phones did have some positive outcomes. People are now taking photos more then ever, but they are mostly mindless and superfluous.
Succeeding in photography is almost impossible in todays world. With virtually no barriers to entry and a limitless supply of images it is a skill that has lost most of its respect. Most people are more interested in which I phone was used than the aesthetic quality of the image. The bulk of photographer spend most of their time running the social media rat race which can be exhausting. It has to be a pursuit of love or an insane passion to venture into an overcrowded and bastardized profession. If your currency of success is love and passion by all means dive in head first. If you however hope to drink champagne and eat caviar keep on walking.