Back in the good old days, photographers were a valuable commodity. But that was a long time ago, around the time when I was a boy of say 6 or 7 years old, still a child…and I won’t tell you how many years ago that was! OK, alright, I was born in 1983.
So back in the good old days, the skilled and professional photographer was well paid, liked and admired with his heavy duty Nikon SLR adjustable zoom camera hanging from his neck. He was hired at special events such as birthday parties, weddings, house openings and other celebrated events.
The professional photographer had to be skilled. He had to understand lighting techniques, focus, range and many other factors which came into play during the process of taking breath-taking photos that would capture moments that would last a lifetime. Further, the professional photographer had to be tactful. He had to know where to stand in order to freeze those special moments in time for a lifetime. He had to know when to shoot. He had to know exactly when those Kodac moments would spring, and he had to be fast and accurate in tripping the shutter just in time. And most of all, he had to be smart in deciding which moments in time are best to capture.
Those were the good old classic days. In those days, only the professional photographer had a really good camera. After taking the shots, the photographer would have to take them to a photo lab to be washed. He would return weeks later to smiling, anxious and gleeful faces to hand over those precious pieces of paper. No, those weren’t just pieces of paper. They were tablets of memories in time which were treasured in those handy photo albums. Some were framed and hung from the walls.
Not everyone had good cameras those day. Even a small hand-camera was an expensive item which few people could have gotten their hands on.
Fast forward two or three decades and things just aren’t the same. Cameras have now become second nature, and everyone knows how to snap. The pictures are super clean, editable, modifiable and can be stored instantly on digital media. Further, they can be opened instantly and even uploaded to social media for likes, loves, wows and shares. Don’t like the shot? Just delete it. Nowadays, there are no films to wash, no waiting time, no nothing. Even the youngest child can hold a Samsung Galaxy S7 and snap some photos that would be as good as ever. And almost everyone has a phone with a build in camera. There are so many photos being taken everywhere, by so many people,that it seems as though the professional photographer has become highly irrelevant. Nowadays, the problem is not too few pictures, but too many.
And with no limitation on resources, hundreds of photos can be “clicked” in minutes. Keep what you want, delete what you don’t. Consequently, the advent of the mobile phone with its superior built in cameras has somewhat reduced, if not totally eliminated, the need for a professional photographer.
Sure, the professional photographer may still be needed in cases where certain skills are required, like performing a model shoot. Or in those special ceremonies were all family members would be too deeply engulfed to take photos. But such cases are becoming less and less. Just as email has wiped out the formality in letter writing, so has digital phone cameras wiped out the relevancy of skilled photographers.
So to answer the question: are photographers still relevant? Here’s my take: absolutely! Anyone can snap a picture here and there, but it is the professional photographer who can take great pictures. Sure, advanced and readily available camera technology has made the field a bit redundant, and I’m not sure what the scenario will be in ten years from today. But while everyone else is busy drinking and having fun, the alert professional photographer is always up, camera in hand, ready to capture that Kodak moment!
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