with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

The Future of Photography

In “Where the Photo Industry is Going in Five Years,” Chris Gampat talks about the future of photography.

“The industry and the state of technology is evolving or developing so quickly I frankly cannot guess what will be five years from now. I am not certain if you’d asked me this during January 2014 I could have predicted the state of affairs today, Dec 1, 2014, just one year later.” stated Henry Posner, Director of Corporate Communications at B&H Photo Video Pro Audio in NYC.

Indeed, technology these days moves so fast that we’re not sure anyone would be able to tell. Not many could have expected that a product from Apple introduced around five years ago would have improved to the point where many use it as their main camera every day. Nor did we think that it would spur the creation of an app that allows a new breed of photographers to make a decent living off of shooting photos for advertisers.

True, today there is a camera in every pocket and purse, often rarely leaving the hand. We’ve become cyborg citizen journalists, capturing our lives, news, and events around us at every opportunity. This is the age of selfies, multiple generations preserved digitally forever – we hope.

Duane Hansen hides in camo in the trees behind his camera.The article interviews manufacturers and experts in the technology behind photography and comes to these conclusions:

  • Fixed lenses rather than interchangeable lenses will be more in demand.
  • Mirrorless cameras are going away, replaced by digital and a “seamless camera experience.”
  • WIFI and data plans are likely to become a default on all cameras for instant transfer of images to the web and cloud storage.
  • Image storage may move from the camera’s on board digital storage to cloud storage.
  • In general, smaller cameras will be more popular than heavier and larger, allowing for easier handling, less weight carrying, and innovative usage.
  • A merge between static images and video with the animated or moving GIF files, allowing capture of everything in one moment rather than choosing between modes.

Let’s not forget a return to nostalgia, as mentioned in the closing paragraphs.

While many companies talk about pushing innovation, others believe that building customer loyalty and a dedicated army of fans may help them win the day. Since the earliest days of the Fujifilm X series cameras, we have seen photographers stricken with nostalgia like a plague and a fervor almost like that of the most dedicated cult in the world.

In the 80s and 90s when everyone was moving with the amazing technological improvements in cameras and film with Fujifilm leading the way, there was a big move back to the old Polaroid cameras for art effects and darkrooms started popping up again. The industry must be ready for a few to follow their nostalgic hearts.

Were is Photography Going for You?

Honestly, smaller and integrated into our life and clothing is where photography is going.

Cameras are now available to everyone, including children, to stick on their heads, wear around their necks, and attack to objects sent flying into the sky, off cliffs, down mountains, underwater, deep into the sea.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

People will experiment more with what is possible to record and techniques will rule the day rather than quality imagery.

That’s where the technology is going. Where is the art form going?

With everyone having a camera in their pocket, acceptable image quality will go down and down as it has been. Images created with care, careful focus, excellent light, composition, will continue to become rare.

Unfortunately, just as the career and income of photographers has crash landed, it will continue to fall. Only a select few will be able to survive on their images alone. With the movement to digital magazines, image quality once required for print will also degrade and not be necessary.

Photographers determined to make a career and income from photography will need to diversify even more, moving beyond workshops, teaching, and books into commercial work and art forms.

Sounds depressing but it is also exciting.

Easy access to quality equipment and the potential for fine resolution imagery, photography is open to more people than ever before. Will they use it for the type of quality images many of us grew up with? That’s up to them, but the door is open for new eyes to capture the world around them.

With easier to use and more flexible equipment, combined with mobile apps that permit control of the photography equipment, a camera can indeed go anywhere and be anywhere, capturing things we only imagined seeing.

Famous film footage taken many years ago for National Geographic by a professional wildlife photographer of a watering hole captured rare moments untouched by humans. The photographer placed the camera there with a motion trigger that captured 24-36 images before the film ran out. For weeks, under terrible weather conditions and illness, the photographer kept returning to the camera to find no images of the elusive lions he sought. On the last day, when the flight was due to leave and there were no more moments to capture, he picked up his gear and packed up for home. On developing the slides later, he found the image he had waited for, the rare creature visiting the waterhole, a moment of peace among its prey, on the very last photograph before the film canister finished and rerolled itself back in.

That kind of patience, determination to get the image, I see that disappearing because it is just too easy to hold up the camera and take the snap and walk away.

In an interview with Frans Lanting by Miriam Helbook in 1995, Lanting predicts the future of photography and nature photography well:

“I may be part of the last generation of photographers able to show wildlife in all its glory,” Lanting observed to Michael McRae during an interview for Outside (October 1992). “The next generation may have better technology, but what wildlife will be left? Wherever I go I see whole ecosystems unraveling. The long-term pattern is the demise of wilderness as we know it. I’d rather go at a more leisurely pace, but I’m in a very privileged position, being the eyes of the world.”

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