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Tuesday, 03 August 2010

Comments

Film making like photography is often too interested in equipment. The photoshop of filmmaking is special effects/CGI.

However the one enduring element is the story and HOW it is told. If the story is poor then the film fails. There are exceptions when we go just to see the special effects but like many photoshop effects they pall quickly.

Photography as seen in Flickr is often just one big photography club. Sunsets, flowers cute babies, semi clothed females/males. Not much new to view.

There are however still some excellent photographers telling stories with stills, in the overall volume their work is often missed but they are still working away. They will most likely move more into the moving image alongside the still image but the still image will remain for one good reason - cost.

Producing a good film with good sound is considerably more complex and time consuming than producing a photo essay.

Often what is required is someone to go to where the stories are and to tell the story with imagery which feeds our imagination. Hard work and patience and a good eye are what is needed.

The rewards are now fewer but there is no other substitute or media and aspiring photojournalists will continue to work. In the end their reward is not so much money as a desire to tell stories. We should be thankful that that desire is unlikely to diminish.

Sometimes I think the usage of the "versificator" from the novel 1984 isn't far off. The technology exists.

I've actually been wondering for a while how long it will be before new films start being made starring dead movie stars -- the technology is pretty there to do it, it's just a matter of negotiating with the estates. Similarly, why not continue making movies starring young Brad Pitt (or whoever) for as long as he's still popular, instead of just as long as he's still young (Benjamin Button showed that it could be done).

I think it's all a little creepy/disheartening to think about, but if this type of strategy is proven profitable, there's no stopping it. As you point out with Avatar, a huge number of big budget effects films are already really more animated cartoons than live action. I actually kind of like the old rubber monsters better.

All golden ages come to an end no matter how glorious and romantic they seemed to appear ... The age of the cowboys and cattle drives was at best 50 years ... so too was the age of pop musicians and print. RIP

Some very good points raised here. In the age of information automation: People talk. Databases suck it all in. Software spits out content. SEO engines rearrange it so it will be noticed.

Not even sure editors will be safe. Yes, the time will come

Quote from Harmon in this morning's NY Times on why he's buying Newsweek -
"Because I think I should stop misspending my youth"

Michael W,
Well, the era of print is more like 500 years, but I see what you mean.

A guy I worked with at _Model Railroader_ told me in a hushed voice that the golden era of the railroads was more or less over by 1910.

Mike

The last bit of that, the elimination of actors, was the subject of Walter M. Miller's 1955 Hugo-winning story "The Darfsteller" (he's more famous as the author of A Canticle For Leibowitz).

I'm a little bit afraid that Mr. Harman simply has fond memories of the magazine and wants to save it. That won't end well. I hope he's got clever ideas about how to do a news magazine in modern technology (his age is no inherent bar to that of course).

This phenomenon isn't just limited to photography or photographers, as your last paragraph indicates. Here are a few other fields/jobs that have seen drastic reductions:

- Farming
- Filing (not archive work, but office filers)
- Tailoring / Craftsmanship
- Electronics repair
- Law*
- Bookstores
etc.

A lot of people in these fields (farming, filing, law) think that these are the results of a temporary - albeit extended - downturn, and they just need to hold on until crop prices recover, the business climate picks up and the number of legal transactions rises. No. Much as it pains me to say so, these fields have shrunk considerably in terms of the number of available positions. Farms are larger and more mechanized/capital-intensive. Computers and electronic data retrieval systems have eliminated the need for many office administrative positions (which is clearly NOT the same thing as saying that computers have reduced the amount of paper used). And the number of legal transactions is not likely to rise quickly - banks are under much stricter limits in terms of what sort of activities they can engage in and their financial flexibility (yes, legal hiring will pick up again with the economy. But the overall number of lawyers will be significantly lower than a few years ago and it will be many years before it reaches its former heights).

I am fortunate to have a job, but I feel for everyone without one, or in fear of losing their current job. These are scary times indeed.

But we need to distinguish between the personal impact and the societal impact. There is no questioning that the forces shaping commerce and society are eliminating much that had great value and was loved. But we also shouldn't lose sight of all that we have gained. From our desks, we can access texts, pictures, video and representations of artwork that previously would have been unavailable, available only to a select few, or available only at great cost in terms of money and time. We can find people with shared interests around the world and communicate them. We can access more knowledge than 1,000,000 Encylopedia Brittanica's from our cell/mobile phones.

To use my favorite example: the New York Times website is a far, far better resource than the print edition of the New York Times ever was or will be. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the quality of the "hard news" articles has dropped by some fraction, due to the shortened deadlines, commercialization, reduced budgets, competition, the impatience of an Internet audience with long articles, editorial lack of focus, you name it. Even if this is true (and I am by no means saying that it is), it is more than made up for by the fact that articles today cover a far greater range of subjects than was previously the case (today's NY Times is much more democratic in terms of addressing the interests of people of different ages, races and classes), the number of photographs available has exploded and photographers have greater freedom to present personal projects, videos on every subject imaginable are available (many of which are really very good - check out Mark Bittman as "The Minimalist"), the entire NY Times archives going back to 1851 is searchable, articles are presented with links to related articles that provide additional detail or background, etc. etc. Is it sustainable? Maybe not. But even if the NY Times winds up downsizing by half from the current smorgasbord of content, it will still be incredible.

I lament what we have lost, but I wouldn't want to give up what we have to get it back.

Best regards,
Adam

Well some of us have fallen into post-"front line" photographic careers and moved off the image-making battlefield into roles as educators, consultants, publishers, editors and editorializers. Unfortunately, it seems those arenas are also on the precipice. I attended WPPI this year and there seemed to be more instructors and workshop hosts than actual students.

When the teachers outnumber the pupils, it may be time to pick a different subject.

As you have pointed out, this phenomenon is not restricted to photography but all of the commercial arts. After all, who these days isn't a graphic designer, musician, singer, artist, writer, actor, filmmaker, or a gourmet chef? Identifying as one of the above professions does not carry the same cachet and respect it once did. These are all viable careers in a post-industrial economy, but as we enter a digital economy, such jobs suffer obsolescence the same way blacksmithing was rendered null and void by the industrial revolution.

I would hope that after we grow weary of installing digital cameras into every portable electronic device as possible, and when trendy sites like Flickr go the way of Friendster, that photojournalism will return to its esoteric roots and reach a maturity as a fully established visual art form.

"I hope he's got clever ideas about how to do a news magazine in modern technology (his age is no inherent bar to that of course)."

No, but his age might be a bar to him being around for the long term to keep hold of the helm. Also, many people are starting to slow down by the time they're 91.

Mike

"I can foresee a time when only tiny independents will be using photography of actual humans to create films, (...) because they can't afford "proper" computer-generated production values."

It's more likely that only high-budget productions will be able to afford humans and locations, whereas anybody with either time or money will be able to do CGI.

You were right to tie these things together, Mike. I'd say that most, certainly not all, news outlets these days don't fund reportage of any kind at all if they can avoid it. They merely repackage what comes in on the wires, press releases, the internet, and, most idiotically, what their competitors are reporting. What Jagger said is also absolutely true - the window is closed and has been for a while. I'd go farther and say the window of opportunity for a lifelong career, let alone wealth, as a creator of anything in the arts is closed. There is only a hot minute. The reason is the same as the dearth (death?) of good reportage: all of the decisions in the marketing networks of media companies are made by MBAs and CPAs. A discussion of the innate quality of a product is irrelevant - if it sells it's by definition good. If it doesn't sell it's history. So, by the way, is the guy who brought it in the door. The concept of a media company nurturing the career of an artist who they think has potential is long dead, and the concept of a 'record mogul' has to be understood as corporate guy who buries his mistakes faster than his competitors both within his company and without. Harman's reputation in the professional music recording business is as a company that bought up some of the most illustrious names in the industry and cheapened them into semi-professional 'brands'. It doesn't bode well for Newsweek, but I think the horse has long since been stolen.

And at the same time computer graphics are putting actors out of work, guys writing freeware are putting software developers out of work. At least those big name actors can still get jobs doing the voices for animated movies because apparently nobody on this planet outside of a handful of big name actors can do voices.

I heard a radio lecture (Ideas on CBC Radio One) by the big cheese at Wiki Media on these very subjects. She gave an interesting historical description of the battle between musicians and radio producers at the start of commercial radio in the early 1900s. The debate then was that the stations thought that the musicians should let their music be played on air for free because of the publicity it gave them, whereas the musicians thought that they should be paid by the stations for using their work. It wasn't until there was sufficient advertizing revenues that both sides could make money. Sounds similar to what we have today. The "new" model just hasn't sorted itself out yet.

This is an odd time. Nobody wants to pay for journalism, but most people still want it. Maybe even need it. If there is no independent party investigating things, all that's left is propaganda and advertizing.

Here's a tip of the hat to photojournalism as an industry. It was a splendid way to get someone else to pay for an enormous amount of film and developing, so that people who weren't rich could afford to get their ten thousand hours of practice to become master photographers.

Perhaps the correct way to remember that way of life is for what it did for us - it brought us really talented people, some of whom produce beautiful artwork yet today.

Now, we should praise the chipmakers and engineers who brought us cheap cell phone cameras, and affordable point and shoots of every stripe. Tomorrow's Robert Capa and HCB are already honing their skills across the world, no longer fettered by waiting days or weeks (or months!) for feedback. Nor are they hindered by lack of cash for gear. Thank goodness photography isn't a rich man's game anymore - we will be all the richer for it.

Will

"...It's nothing new...It'll keep happening. That's progress..."

It's change. It *is* inevitable. It may or may not be progress.

Mike,

I can't say there's a thought I could possibly disagree more with than your argument in this post. Photojournalism is as alive and well now as it ever has been and I say this as a graduate of the Ohio University school of Visual Communication this past Spring.

I'm entering what is undoubtedly the most unsure and unstable job market the news media industry has ever seen and where jobs are harder to come by than winning lottery tickets. I couldn't feel better about the prospects for photojournalism.

While jobs might not be plentiful the work still being done in the industry is phenomenal and is never going to disappear. Is there a chance to make a lot of money doing it? Hell no, but there never has been and if anyone pursues photojournalism to make money they're a fool.

While wire services may make national media coverage by every paper a thing of the past, wire services will never replace local reporting and features, which is where the future and safe haven of our industry rests. Snapshot galleries may dominate click totals on newspaper websites, but the photos that sell on those websites are the true photojournalistic images.

As our population becomes more educated and learns to trust the long-trusted news sources of this nation (newspapers) instead of the fly-by-night blogger who tries to pass himself off as a journalist I believe we will see a rebirth of the news industry.

Even if all print media shifts to the internet, the need for photojournalists will never end. While computer programs can be written to write a game recap for almost any sport from plugging in statistical information, nothing can produce a photo except a photojournalist.

I'm afraid your personal experiences have clouded your overall vision of the industry as a whole. I may never find a job in this industry because of the dearth of photojournalists looking for a job right now, but we will never cease to exist of produce fantastic, meaningful work.

This is probably piling on in a sense, but anyway...

Has anyone seen the Dominos Pizza tv ads lamenting the classic advertising photoshoot as "crazy" ie involving blowtorches, food stylists and whatnot? So their solution is for you to buy a pizza, photograph it, and submit the photos to Dominos for their use. You pay them to supply advertising!

Great photo essays will continue be made, and there are probably more venues now for that work to be seen than ever before- but as for doing it professionally (as in getting paid for it)...

" Why, with all the photographers putting their own work out on the web in a ceaseless torrent, aren't more amateurs using their photography for extended reportage?"

I lost my job last year and I have been spending my time on photographic projects. They are not hard news stories (not much happens in south west Scotland!), but they do tend towards reportage.
The first one was inspired by Andre Kertesz's book "On Reading" and the second one came out of a love of animals, an interest in veterinary hospitals and you, Mike, advising me to keep on photographing animals and people! They can be found on my blog - http://sar-photography.typepad.com/sar-photography/

What! Nic Cage is a real human? I had thought they had replaced actors already.

If Harmon is 91, I'm amazed. Look at his introduction to the staff at newsweek.com. If I look and sound like that at 72 I'll be happy.

Seth, you say:

"I'd go farther and say the window of opportunity for a lifelong career, let alone wealth, as a creator of anything in the arts is closed. There is only a hot minute."

I humbly disagree. For example I think Lady Gaga will be around for a while yet and is likely to reinvent herself several times over in the coming years. Jennifer Aniston earns a pretty penny. Ricky Gervais does alright and has been around a while. Stephen King. Brett Easton Ellis. Steve McCurry. These people aren't exactly starving. And there will be new, younger versions rising up to replace them. The means of Arts distribution has changed, but talent and innovation will rise to the top.

We are in the midst of the Digital Revolution, whose impact will be greater than the Industrial Revolution.


Take a different view of this, not sentimental at the death of photojournalism but at the subjects the brought to the light. This draining process is running the length of the media supply chain, no feet on the street, no reporters in court everyday, no full coverage of local government. Without a network of stringers feeding the media the content flow will dry, twitter is not a replacement to a journalist that takes a good hard look at their local community.

If this sounds serious, it is, our community newspapers were often founded by people who cared about their communities, philanthropists who took an interest in those overlooked by the mainstream. Our democracy depends on having an effective media that shines the light into the darker places of our society and stands up those who don't work for the benefit of the community.

The next step in the process is the large national and international publications; they still have teeth as shown in the UK with the parliamentary expenses scandal. This scandal would be continuing if it had not been reported in the London Telegraph.

The challenge is what business model can sustain a media that is often going to bite the hand that feeds it. It takes a mature and grownup society to swallow the critical commentary and continue to support the media that it deserves. Even Margaret Thatcher struggled with a critical media and especially Thames Television.

How then can we find a way to support journalism that ultimately improves the quality of all our lives by exposing in words and pictures the society we need to keep improving. There is a new business model; just no one has worked it out yet.

Don't morn the photojournalist, breath life back into the profession as they are at the front line of our social conscience, you can’t take the pictures at the office.

Victor

Hye, Victor.
There is a business model for it, and it is up and running and very much healthy, thank you very much.

It is called Flickr, Facebook, Picasa and the rest of free stock photo sites and social networks that run along.

Everybody can take a photo, and from now on, as they can be easily tinkered, by sheer amount, the possibilities of finding a photo or a testimony for photojournalism where the news happen are increasingly big but for the very expensive reportage.

Photojournalism has not been shot by anything but the cameraphone. Yep, that revolution Sony-Ericsson and Nokia started.

Unless the world out there impacts me directly, I tend to ignore same.

Thee reading of any form of journalism
requires time, concenration and a perceived need to know.

The availabilty of the internet as a carrier of what was the bastion of newspapers, now means no newspapers in my
home. I really don't need to read the opinions of many; my life does not revolve around the existence of such
blabber.

Remove hands-on in-your-face communications such as the internet or downloadable publications to your computer; then you'd see somee form of revival of daily printed material.

Craig Norris:
I wouldn't refer to the accelerating pace of change in typography and text printing as progress, exactly. As you undoubtedly know, Linotype letterpress printing had reached an extremely high level of typographic sophistication circa 1940 - 1960. Phototypesetting was notionally cheaper, but it tossed 500 years of typographic æsthetics in the trash and produced truly hideous text quality. With rare exceptions, 'attractive phototype' is a perfect oxymoron. The printing trade was just beginning to address the æsthetic crimes of phototype when the digital tsumani swept it aside. Digital typesetting has great æsthetic potential...which goes largely unfulfilled to shave 5 cents off the unit cost.

As I type, on my desk is a trade copy of Wallace Stevens' Collected Poems (Knopf, 1955). It was printed inexpensively using Linotype machinery, yet its typographic quality rivals that of private-press limited editions of the 1930s. Comparing it to a contemporary trade hardcover book leaves me depressed. Change, yes. Progress...not so much.

There are those who say...excuse me a moment...that people today...pardon me...don't have the attention span to read a magazine...sorry...where was I? Oh hell you get the point...maybe.

With Sarah quipping about Barack's [lack of] "cojones", who cares about history, archives or photojournalism anymore?

My teacher at ArtCenter, years ago, got angry one day when a [design] student had created an ad on the virtues of a (fictitious TV News program's) ability to condense the "Entire Days' Worth of News" into 5 minutes. Teacher said it was cheapening news, and promoting a superficial way of understanding/dealing with the world.

Well. We're there.

My brother in Brazil, a historian, says it is not that people don't value historical research (his business), its just that clients don't want to pay for it.

Ladies and Gents, Culture is not what you think it is, anymore.

Kultur? Kaput.

If marketability or cash flow is the criterion for life or death, photojournalism appears to be dying, if not already dead, along with journalism in general. Especially if "photojournalism" means professionals with adequate expense accounts documenting "newsworthy" events for elite or mass markets.

Otherwise, the prognosis is more mixed.

On a somewhat parallel track: I just watched a fascinating film called Capturing Reality: the Art of Documentary, in which many celebrated documentary filmmakers talk about their craft. Given the way many of them approach their work, it seems to me that were it not for the availability of portable, relatively inexpensive video equipment, they would be doing similar work in other mediums, including (for some) still photography.

Which is to say that, regardless of "market pressures", photojournalism is going away at least in part because there are other ways to do many of the things that photojournalism is good for. For those things that can't be done any other way, there is and will be a place for traditional photojournalism--just a smaller place.

off to watch a herzog/kinski movie now..

Sorry mike it seems you have missed it. The actor is there and in fact kicking and alive. Those pictures are not about actor replacement but about acting capture. Better check interviews of those involved in these kind of movies.

Dennis,
I was talking about the future, not the present....

Mike

I recently wrote a paper on the decoupling of artist from societal mythology. The essence of the paper was in trying to differentiate the life-work of an artist verses that of societal norm and expectation.

http://www.findingtruthinbeauty.com/#/custom/1

My belief is that our overall societal mythology is starting to fail us because the cost of goods and services in a global-based economy reduces the profit margins to the point where very few products, if any, can remain profitable for long.

Our own social actions give products value. So loosing the book industry, the magazine industry, the newspaper industry, the music industry, et al, is a reflection of our own values shifting, not an evil plot by others.

When I was growing up (I am 50 years old) one parent could earn enough money to keep a household going. By the time I was in collage, the norm was that it took two incomes to keep a household going. Today, it seems to take two people multiple jobs just to keep their heads above water (occasionally gasping for air). Without time, without money, how is it that there is any room left at the end of the day for culture?

I do not think we should resign ourselves to a bland, meaningless life, but rather figure out what is the priority of our own living and what corner of the table are we going to support in the arts to keep it all moving forward. The absolute power is ours. Its time to loose the expectation that some one is going to care about what we value, but rather find and hold dear the value ourselves.

Pete

In my opinion it all comes back to the recent(maybe not-so-recent) idea that with access to high quality, affordable equipment, anyone can take 'amazing' photos. Everyone thinks they are capable of work comparable to the greatest photographers because they have better equipment. The photos from a Canon Rebel that still smells new have to be better than photos made from some old camera that takes film.

People have over exposure to imagery now. Everywhere you look there is 18 pictures of some news event shot with a camera phone. The owners of those images are just excited to see their picture on TV. They don't think about things like composition, or how the image conveys or advances a story. Just point and pull. Don't worry about the results.

My wife works with a woman who announced that she owns a camera that is impossible to take bad pictures with. It is so great that it won't let you take a bad one. She is thinking of become a 'professional'. I guess I should get one of those. I take awful pictures all the time, yet people still pay me for the ones that are at least in focus.

Mike

We Wail about the lost glories of the golden past, gnash our teeth about the inadequate present and make dire pronouncements about the dangerous future. Lets all just close up shop and drink the KoolAid.
Life goes forward not backward. I'm not yet ready to opt-out of the future. Maybe one day I will be but not today. I prefer living in the present rather than reliving the past.

Wait, you can't get rid of the temperamental stars! What would the paparazzi do then? And what would we do with no star vs. paparazzi "stories" to fill the (online) columns?

I don't know ... but this is a site I found here, on TOP: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/

5 minutes there and you would see far more than you ever would in any print medium. Maybe the economic model has changed, but I'm not sharp enough to explain that.

JC, nice forward.

Ahh, as the old tentmaker said, the moving finger having writ, moves on.

We can bark, the parade passes.

So their solution is for you to buy a pizza, photograph it, and submit the photos to Dominos for their use. You pay them to supply advertising!

Yes, and people love it. Our local tourist commission did the same thing here recently. Had a "competition" whereby the public would send in their favourite shots of South Australia which were then used in their latest advertising campaign. I think the total prize pool was $5,000. I actually knew the photographer that lost her contract because of that campaign.

It's the same formula that shows like American/Australian/British Idol use. Have a show where you get the audience to essentially tell the recording company whose record they would purchase the most copies of.

It's actually a genius idea really. Devious but genius.


Seth, you say:

"I'd go farther and say the window of opportunity for a lifelong career, let alone wealth, as a creator of anything in the arts is closed. There is only a hot minute."

"I humbly disagree. For example I think Lady Gaga will be around for a while yet and is likely to reinvent herself several times over in the coming years. Jennifer Aniston earns a pretty penny. Ricky Gervais does alright and has been around a while. Stephen King. Brett Easton Ellis. Steve McCurry. These people aren't exactly starving. And there will be new, younger versions rising up to replace them. The means of Arts distribution has changed, but talent and innovation will rise to the top."

Patrick, I agree with a lot of what you say. Only time will tell if Lady Gaga will really have a long productive career, and I hope she does. There will always be big stars, I suppose, but there are fewer of them now than at any time in the past 50 years because there are no longer training grounds. I was really referring to high craftsmanship rather than big stars. Unfortunately, in my recent experience, talent and innovation do not necessarily rise to the top. Brilliant self-promotion does. How long brilliant self-promoters stay at the top depends on how good they are at what they do, getting to the top does not. Hard-earned expertise does not guarantee employment, but it many cases it does guarantee contempt.

Back in the 90s, when I ran a small custom photo lab, everyone in "the industry" was wondering what this new technology would mean to our jobs. A wise veteran postulated that it wouldn't mean much because "you can't bring a cd to work to show pictures of your grandchildren." We all nodded. Some years later I was reminded of that quote when a co-worker took out his digital point and shoot camera and we all crowded around looking at snaps of his newborn daughter. The advent of digital photography is as monumental a change as the original Kodak camera, which invented commercial photofinishing and launched photography as a mass market product. It seems perfectly obvious now that the only reason people ordered prints was because they had to. Bigger fish than myself spent large sums on equipment to put files on paper, when the customer was saying: why do I need to do this? Fifteen years ago I couldn't see the death of the print, so I can't make any predictions. I work in a completely different industry now, and feel very much like a typesetter.

So I finally have time to read today's Wall Street Journal and what do I find upon opening it -- Yes, I'm reading the dead trees version! -- but an article by Richard B. Woodward about the "Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography Since the Sixties" show that opened last June at the Getty Museum: The Photojournalism Paradox. How timely, eh?

Isn't Sidney Harman the guy that bailed out Ilford?

Oh, and online newspapers suck.

Bill Pearce

Ultimately, even if business models change with the availability of volumes of sufficiently good, cheap alternatives, public hunger for celebrity will ensure a comfortable existence for plenty of athletes, musicians, actors, and no-talent-arse-clowns.

After all, computer graphics may be able to replace actors, but Disney did it decades ago. And we've had the ability all along to replace $20 million a film actors with talented no name actors. But it's the name that draws the crowd.

"Isn't Sidney Harman the guy that bailed out Ilford?"

You're thinking of HARMAN technology Limited, named for Ilford's founder, Alfred Hugh Harman. It was formed by Ilford managers for the purpose of buying out their company. (AFAIK)

Why do I, at 48, feel that I am in an old folks homes listening to complaints about the young uns' and how the world is all going to hell 'cause it ain't like it was back when I was young. (We were much smarter back then, and still are.)

In one of the comments above, it was asserted that as people become more educated, they will return to trusting newspapers instead of bloggers. I'd argue the opposite, when people become educated enough to discern a reliable, knowledgeable blogger (and other sources) who specializes in an area that is not covered, or incompetently covered by the dead-tree press and its online version, they will choose to read the blog for detailed, accurate information. (Would not TOP be a prefect example?)

A case in point is the near absence of foreign news coverage in the States. Japan in particular is reported on as some sort of weird, near inscrutable country. Anything that can be made out to be weird---accurately reported or not---is likely to get a prominent position in places such as the NYT. Fact checking? What's that? Someone saw a similar report elsewhere?) I check a few local blogs for information on the Japanese government, politics, or business because they are by far more accurate and more reliable than most anything you can read in the press. Did I say "by far"?

Or you could read an ridiculous New York Times article about how Japanese are designing vending machine disguises--among others---to avoid becoming crime victims. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/20/world/asia/20japan.html?_r=1 Wonder how many fell for that?

Thank goodness we now have so many more resources and so many more truly knowledgeable people to learn from than we did just a few years ago when newspapers and others controlled the flow of information and stood by their stories, no matter how inaccurate they were.

I live in a country which seems moribund to the past in many ways in part due to a belief in a special, unique tradition, and because of an elite which cannot accept any change that may challenge that semi-mythical tradition. A severe aversion to risk doesn't help either.

Progress? Change? God, I miss the vision, the opportunities, and the possibilities which felt so much more real in the West. Goodbye to the good old days. Time to move on.

The Internet is a lovely creation and my opinion is there is just way too much free content out there. We are all now accustomed to search google finding that little fact we are unsure about, click on the link open the page and free enlightenment, but the real life outside doesn´t work like that.
I´ve been wading through the old TOP posts the last week or so, whilst you were fishing. Mike do you realise the amount of knowledge you´ve handed out free to all of us over the last couple of years is phenomenal. It´s really worth money! I´ve bought expensive books with less information than a month´s worth of your posts! Maybe your viewing rates would fall, but wouldn´t a subscription rate of 10$ a month be a good way to ensure we have TOP for many years? Every body's expert knowledge is worth money. I´m sure there would be quite a few people who would sign up right away, the free loaders would grumble but they go through life looking for a free meal.
It´s time those of YOU who have talent out there on the web, really begin to value your work or knowledge.
Paul

"When I was growing up (I am 50 years old) one parent could earn enough money to keep a household going."

Pete - I think that's a little bit of a fallacy (although I was born in the 70's, so this is just my impression). You also have to remember the lifestyle most of those families lead. They didn't have anywhere near the amount of material goods or expenditures that today's families have. In the 50's, how many families had 2 or more cars? How many had several TVs, stereos, cell phones, cable TV, computers, etc? How many had 3000-4000 square foot houses? How many people ate out at restaurants frequently?

Needing more than one income is the price people are willing to pay to have the lifestyle they want. There is some effect where the average job was able to earn more because of the growing more industrial economy - but I think the bigger reason was simply less expenses.

I don't know, I distinctly remember it dieing back in the 1980s,

Sometime in the future these will be "the good old days" when "I can't believe people could actually make a living doing that"
Now if only I knew what the "that" was.

Photojournalism, as I understand it, was the craft of telling a complete story primarily through the use of photographs and not words. The vehicle, in my life span, that most successfully carried that craft and those stories was the printed page.

But the vehicles that carry the craft of photography and its by-product, photojournalism, (and now most other information) has changed. Electronic presentation of visual information is now the vehicle and has overtaken the tactile experience of pages of paper.

Since my professional photography involvement starting in the late 70's, it seems to me the advertising dollar insidiously and consistently crept in to have influence on pure editorial content, which I believe caused the greatest negative effect of the value of photojournalism and thus its decline.

Today, the ease and abundance of technologically produced images taken by the millions on a daily basis makes it harder for the rich cream that contains valuable photojournalism to rise to the top and be seen.

The statement was always, A picture is worth a thousand words? Now, it is possible to view a thousand pictures in one sitting with ease but do any one of them contain those thousand words?

I found a book in a dusty bin in an antique store. Its title is "Twilight of Painting" authored in 1946 by a R.H.Ives Gammell. His dedication is as follows, "To the painter, born or unborn, who shall lift the art of painting from the low estate to which it has fallen, this book is hopefully dedicated."

My concern is not that things change, as photography and photojournalism has, but that it now seems the shelf life of anything keeps growing shorter and shorter. How many of us were around before the fax machine, during it heyday, and now, well, when was the last time you used one?

Technology has changed the tools we photograph with, and each technological change is reported on and dissected in detail and depth on the pages and pages of photo forums and blogs. The vehicles that carry the images from the technological instruments that created them are vastly different than the pulp and ink of the past.

For me, no matter how an image was created and how it was viewed, the question will always be, "Was the content of the image worth the effort."

Although current technologies wither and new ones continue to arise like waves endlessly arriving at the seashore, there is a difference now.

New industries do not create lots of "ordinary" jobs, at least not enough to maintain a middle class. Silicon Valley is an enclave, not a region of the whole U.S. as "Detroit" once was.

The fault is not in the industries, of course. The fault is in our socio-economic organization.

A couple of quick points:

There's a daily here in Zagreb that pays an equivalent of $100 (roughly) for a reader's photo they publish. But it has to be interesting to them: traffic accidents and similar stuff. That is photojournalism. Admittedly, very low level and limited in scope, but as they are more or less a real tabloid, that's what floats their boat.

If I'm not wrong, they already used CG versions of actors to finish films. ISTR Brandon Lee in Crow. (Aaaargh, no sharp brackets on this keyboard. No HTML.) But I may be wrong.

Whether 3D will replace live action, don't forget that you can use Homer Simpson only in Simpson films. There are no stars. Each sequel of an animated movie is a franchise. Like Shrek. Can you imagine Shrek in a completely unrelated movie? So, motion capture is still way to go.

BTW, an actor being a star isn't a guarantee of good voice acting. Compare Hoffman and Black in Kung Fu Panda with Glenn Close in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Man, she was so wooden there...

@Paul

Mike is getting paid for this site.
Ask him how.

Just wanted to give my 2 cents (or pence over here) that photojournalism as a photographic style is not dead, but PAID photojournalism, might be, as indicated in the article.

Mike, the movie studios will continue to need actors not for thier talent... but for thier value as marketing tools.

re the CGI comment

I'm sorry but this is nonsense - I work in the industry and computers have no more replaced human talent - be that those of the artists and animators who use the tools, than digital cameras have somehow replaced the photographers who take pictures with them

computers don't create anything - they are simply a more complex toolbox

avatar was a landmark precisely because the CGI managed to preserve the actors performances so well - not because it replaced or somehow magically created those performances without the actors

I work at the cutting edge of cgi for films and have heard for almost a decade the whole "oh you won't need actors any more" line. I've even heard it defensivly from the big name actors that are in these blockbusters. But recently the actors have become at ease with the process, they've realised what I have been telling them for years, that behind every "cg character", there's a talented actor driving every motion, directed by a talented director.

The performance capture technology is making it better for the actor too, more of their motions are able to be captured with each generation of the tech and less is having to be tweaked by animators.

Andy Sirkis who played Gollum, famously said that instead of technology taking his job away, it made it 3 times as involved. He played the roll once on set for the actors to respond to, once on the mocap stage to drive the cg puppet, and once in the ADR stage to re record the voice.

The actors in Avatar were equally dedicated and talented, and the film wouldn't have worked without them.

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