Posted by Glyn Wade

“It’s really weird,” says Antonio Olmos. “Photography has never been so popular, but it’s getting destroyed. There have never been so many photographs taken, but photography is dying.”
(The Guardian: Friday 13 December 2013)

Can you guess what prompted this statement? How can something so apparently popular be on its last legs? Well the majority of you reading this are guilty of being part of it….but maybe not as much as the average person on the street….

iphoneThe headline of the article describes photography as an art form. How many other forms of art would be destroyed if more people took part in it? There might be more of a proliferation to choose from if we all took up ballet tomorrow but we would still be left with those at the top i.e. those that could do it properly. Those that couldn’t would be languishing on the floor nursing damaged bodies! If we all started sculpting, painting or topiary those art forms would still have the proper exponents at the top and broken rocks, a load of Pollocks and hacked bushes at the bottom.

So…how can something being more popular contribute to its death?

Well the reason cited is the dearth of photographs taken on smartphones with the subject reaching its peak by that week’s most reproduced image being that of a selfie with Helle Thorning-Schmidt (the Danish prime minister), Barack Obama (the so-called leader of the free world) and David Cameron (the less said the better) gurning for a smart phone snap. Now the picture of them taking the picture was taken on a digital SLR camera but how long before smart phones catch up and reach beyond being ‘the snapshot camera of today’ as Annie Leibovitz said only two years ago?

Tomorrow maybe the technology will have moved on and everything more and more photographers need will be included in our phones. If a press photographer only had to carry their iphone instead of the camera and 600mm lens (for starters!) that was used to capture the aforementioned selfie, well, they would wouldn’t they!?

For those of us that take our photography seriously I would think it would take a little longer and I hope we don’t end up being seen as old-fashioned as we snap away on our expensive cameras. There are those professions within photography where I would imagine there would always be the need for a proper camera. Can you imagine if you were getting married, had paid thousands for your wedding photographer and they turned up with a Nokia Lumia??

But then I have been to a wedding where the images were captured by the guests….and isn’t everyone snapping away all day anyway…. In fact at a lot of events such as gigs, bonfires and sports events there are people pointing their phone lenses all over the place and before the night is out you can relive the whole night on facebook.

I was in Winchester at the weekend and visited the cathedral Christmas market which did have a number of people with digital cameras round their necks capturing the event. But there were even more people taking a plethora of snapshots with the cameras on their phones. Do they need anything better than the pictures they will get from them? Probably not as they’re more than likely just going to end up on Instagram, Tumblr or facebook. They want a record of what happened and they can see that well enough on the computer screen so that’ll do. If they wanted to print the images they might struggle, especially if they wanted them enlarged but who does that nowadays?

Now this may all sound like doom mongering of our chosen hobby or profession but I guess it’s up to us to differentiate between the two and promote what we do. We can still take pictures with our phones but if we want a really special picture it has to be with a camera…doesn’t it? I’m guessing you will try and prove me wrong now! And if the winner of POTM is ever taken a on a Samsung Galaxy….

I’ll leave you will the words of Antonio Olmos whose pictures you may like to look at here:

“I’ll survive in this profession because I have skills,” says Olmos. “I’m a storyteller in images; my compositions are better than most people’s. Just because you’ve got a microprocessor in your computer doesn’t make you a writer. And just because you’ve got an Instagram app on your phone you aren’t a great photographer.”

This is a link to the original article: