A lot has been said about those who contribute their images to microstock sites or the free photo sharing sites. A lot of bad things, mostly, said by professional photographers. But an article in the NYT of today just juggled a thought I had years back as this trend was rising. Is it really a wave of amateurs or is it the rise of a new breed of pros? What defines a pro photographer, especially in the commercial stock world? Some have studied and have a degree in photography. great, but that does not make you a good photographer. Others declare themselves pro as soon as they sold a few images. Microstockers can now say the same, big deal. I, even thought not at all a photographer, have had some of my images published. No big deal. We tend to consider a pro someone that makes a living from their craft. I know a lot of photographers who, although they try, cannot even say that. So what is, really, the difference, if any?
Maybe it is time that the magnate of the photo syndication mafia start looking much closer to what is going on rather then just smile and walk by shaking their shoulders in disdain.
Equipment and the process have become much easier to handle. What used to be a big ordeal: getting film, loading, taking 24 or 36 images, seeing the result a week later, looking at crappy 5×7, putting them in a box never to be seen again has come a long way. Now, first and foremost, you can shoot and edit immediately, and erase, and shoot again, and again. and get better.
I know a lot of photographers who never went to photography school. They learned by trial and error, just like the amateurs are doing now. You get my point.
If I was running a photo agency right now, which I am not, I would be looking and contacting all these potential talents. This is a goldmine waiting to be taken. Yes, Flickr was bought by Yahoo but no ones stops you from contacting some of the great photographers there and offering them a real job. Before Microsoft and other image buyers do it for you, while you sit there, complaining and waiving your arms up in the air. Remember, it is not Flickr that is interesting, it is the images that they host. That should tell you something.
It would be nice to see the “professional” stock photography industry lend a helping hand to all these emerging talents instead of either ignoring them or putting them down. This is, after all the new crop of professionals. Why do the NPPA, ASMP, PPA, and other self proclaimed churches of photography, not offer free classes on syndication, business affairs, 3 months trial membership ?
Why doesn’t PACA or CEPIC offer them a guide on how to choose the best representation and agency ?
Why doesn’t the so called “professional photo community” offer a helping hand to these new arrivals before they get eaten by sharks ? Because they think it will make them disappear? as in” if I ignore a problem long enough, it will cease to exist”?
I don’t think so. It is only going to become a bigger and stronger trend. And the ones that will survive this surging wave are the ones that will accept, embrace and adapt to the challenge. The others should look for another job, quickly.