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Saturday, 29 September 2007


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Hey, what's to learn after a quick read of your Canikon user's guide?

I know, that's not really the issue with the loss of this historic program, but I wonder if this pro's comment on a Seattle area blog isn't even more prophetic than we all fear:

"It's all pie in the sky, this making demands of a client. The
photography "pool" overfloweth with camera jockeys who will never make
a demand and will almost pay the client to get their foot in the door.
Sorry to be the voice of doom and gloom but it's been coming for some

The only thing that could have changed this course, that's sending our
profession into oblivion, would have been if only bad photos were
being supplied by lowballers. The problem is, Canon is doing
everything possible to make their cameras capture perfect images, no
matter what. Nikon and others follow.

Just an observation from a 30 year professional."

Gary Quinn

Actually, gloom and doom pronouncements almost identical to the one you quoted have been common throughout the history of photography. Seriously, there were plenty of people saying the same thing when the Daguerreotype studios were on the way out in the 1850s. 'Twas ever thus, believe me.


Mike...the historical broken record about the end of photography (or photographers) is certainly a fact, but it's possible that we're now hitting a kind perfect technological storm.

Consider cars. Early cars required mechanical and in some cases even engineering skills to own and operate. A series of inventions (especially electric starters and automatic transmissions) combined with vastly improved road infrastructure changed the car into something that could be operated by anyone. The final piece in that saga is reliable electronics, which have made cars almost as foolproof as shovels. It is difficult to buy a truly bad new car today; that wasn't the case even 10 years ago.

In cameras, we've got a kind of Holy Trinity of Easy Use: Matrix AE, AF and digital. The improved infrastructure is PCs and the web. Game, set and match.

I have only one data point to back this thin idea up. When I was a corporate marketing guy, I used a really great studio photographer to do lots of product shots. The photographer passed away a few years ago and I've since discovered that my former employers didn't replace him; they bought DSLRs plus basic lighting equipment and took the work in house.

Shooting circuit boards isn't art, but you see where this is going. The technical part of the photography skill set is now being canned like bartlett pears. The fine art part never will be, but a heck of a lot of photography for hire - in truth, practically all of it, isn't fine art, it's skilled technician work that's getting less "skilled" every new product cycle.

Gary Quinn's quote above from a "30 year professional" implies that the photographic profession is threatened by Canon and other manufacturers making cameras that produce perfect exposure and focus automatically, as if producing a well-exposed and focused photograph is what professional photographers are for. If that is the limit of the skill set of a photographer, so that he feels threatened by anyone who picks up a camera, then he's better find something else to earn a living with.


How dare Canon, Nikon, et al make it easier for the rabble to take better pictures! God forbid that anyone but a "pro" be able to make a really good photograph.

There seems to be a mixing of ideas in these responses. On the one hand there's the study of an area of the humanities, photography. And then there's the ability to make a living from its practice. The two things are not necessarily related, are they? The demands of a marketplace come and go but have nothing to do with one's interests. They may coincide for a time perhaps, in the sense that the ability to make a living at something leads to a higher enrollment in related fields of study. Do you really need to study the art history of photography to shoot weddings, or circuit boards, or football games?

I have never really come to understand why digital makes anything easier. All the point and shoots and film cameras since the '90s have had all the features of today's cameras. To shoot acceptable pics of circuit boards requires some knowledge of technique, lighting and so on. None of that is particularly related to digital. Is the elimination of the film/print lab in the loop really so significant or is this just one of those shifts in thinking that happens now and then?

I am sad because I enjoyed my UC Santa Criz workshop experiences.

However, there are other workshops in Northern California. Danny Lyon is giving a session at Fotovison just next week. Just because it's not under the auspices of UC doesn't mean it's not "university-level."

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