Learning From (and hurting?) Photographers

While not having the time to blog about anything in the last month or so, I have had the time to do a little more research in the area of photography podcasts. I’m now subscribed to four: The Secrets of Digital Imaging (with Dennis Hays), The Digital Story (with Derrick Story), Tips From The Top Floor (with Chris Marquardt) and the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast.

All are good, and more importantly, all are different. While I know quite a bit about photography (without managing to be very good at it surpisingly!), and while some of what I listen to is ‘old-hat’ for me, I still find it interesting and I manage to pick up quite a few good ideas along the way.

One such idea that I’m going to try is a self-assignment. Both Derrick Story and Chris Marquardt give photo assignments, and it really seems to force you into thinking more creatively about a subject. My problem is getting myself out to shoot. I think one of these assignments (or one that I come up with myself) might do the trick to finally get me going.

An interesting and somewhat controversial point that Martin Bailey expressed in one of his podcasts (and re-iterated in an interview with Chris Marquardt) is that photographers should not post high-res images online for others to use free of charge. His argument (or at least part of it) being that this hurts professional photographers who are trying to make a living.

This is one of those issues that I’m quite torn on. I can understand his point. If other structural engineers starting offering their services for free, before long I’d be out of a job. In fact, our code of ethics requires us to take fair or reasonable payment for any engineering work we do, that is, we are not supposed to do work for free or for an unreasonably low price. The point being that we are hurting our fellow engineer’s chances for fair and reasonable payment for their services.

I understand this, but with photography I feel differently. I’m not sure if I want to limit my Flickr uploads to a small resolution to discourage their commercial use. Lord knows there are very few (and I mean very few) that anyone would want to use. I’m one for supplying creative fodder for others to use, not limiting it.

Without meaning any disrespect at all, maybe photography is going the way of desktop publishing. There were many people who used to make their living doing things in DTP that can now be done by the average computer user. I would assume that those people were pissed off too. Today someone taking pictures can generate high quality images and manipulate them in all sorts of ways to make them useful to others without spending large amounts of money on equipment. I would think companies who used to only go to stock photo agencies looking for images now scour the net for free alternatives.

I’m not sure how this will pan out. There are a lot of other industries that will undergo the same thing in the coming years and decades. Yet somehow our society shifts and changes to adapt. It will be interesting to watch how this happens with video, audio and photographic media in the near future. I feel it’s inevitable, fighting it at this point is like swimming against the tide.

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