I recently watched a recent Tony & Chelsea Northup YouTube video, “It’s time to say goodbye”, the discussions struck me deeply, it got me thinking a lot: What is the future of photography? What lies ahead for me?
The camera and photography industry has seen so many changes over the decades, it’s constantly evolving and changing in terms of technological changes and advancements. The commercial/professional photography has been affected in more ways than just technological advancements itself.
Having entered into the photography business world, it’s beyond just taking photographs, editing and delivering the works to your clients. This is just a small segment of running a small business, that would mean administrative, marketing, finances etc.
Although I was mentally prepared to start my own business, getting onto the ground, going full hands-on on running my own business. There were so many many more things to learn, do, maintaining and bringing in revenue. Being prepared is just the tip of the iceberg, we would never be fully prepared or know everything in knowing how to run a business efficiently and effectively.
You will experience lots of obstacles, challenges, on top of hardships, difficulties, stress and pressure. Factor in a shrinking commercial photography market just added so much more things to worry and handle.
I have known photographer friends setting up businesses in other industries, diversifying and ensuring another source of revenue. They are true business owners indeed.
Influx of photographers (from newbies, freelancers to professionals)
The technology, digital and social media transformation and revolution in some ways, they are both good and bad for photography, on both leisure and professional aspects. The rise of digital photography, coupled with smartphone photography, opened up photography to many more people, making it easier, lowering the barriers to entry and starting photography.
That is why, we have an influx of photographers (from newbies, freelancers to professionals), thus impacting the livelihoods of professionals with more freelancers entering the market.
Changing media landscape and consumption
While there are more people taking photos with their cameras and smartphones, producing and sharing a lot more photographs on social media and the internet. The media landscape has changed tremendously, with how we consume videos from the rise of videography, made easier though the rise of smartphones and digital cameras.
Although our life is flooded with people sharing photos, we are facing a changing media landscape and consumption of media, there has already been a greater shift towards videos, whether it is Instagram Reels, or TikTok, or YouTube videos, live broadcast on social media platforms.
Rise of the content creator
The social media revolution brought about the rise of the content creator aided by the various social media platforms available. In the early days when social media revolution first started, it was blogging that was the mainstay (and that’s where I first started off on my social media and content creator journeys).
Social media has helped to build up my photography networks, publicity and branding that I slowly built over the past decade. However, they are not perfect, it has its own flaws, challenges, quirks and areas where we photographers dislike it.
This content creator role arises when I merged and integrated more of my visual story telling together with my photography, this journey took me quite a while, learning, growing and developing my own unique voice and style as a content creator through my visual stories and photographs (since April 2006).
Future of photography
What does the future of photography holds? Whether you are a leisure photographer, serious enthusiast or professional, it would mean different things to you.
For the group who are serious enthusiasts or professionals, the future of photography is challenging and intriguing, we can no longer be just a photographer, we are more than just a photographer.
Photographers (now and in the immediate future), we have to be multi-functional, multi-tasking and multi-talented. We are more than just a photographer, we are also a videographer, content creator, writer, producer. Sometimes you have to wear the hat of a designer, artist too.
Key lessons that I learnt through running a photography business over the past few years, and especially during the global pandemic period when the whole world “turned upside down”, are
“Change, unlearn, learn again (new and old skills), adapt, adopt, reinvent, re-imagine yourself and re-launch yourself”
Instagram ruined photography
Instagram is not longer the same as before the time when they first started. You would have heard this from me repeatedly over the past few years, I sound like a broken recorder playing on repeat. Tony & Chelsea Northrup produced a video titled, “Instagram ruined photography”. Check out their video below:
Instagram in the early years were great for photographers and creatives, it was fun, good vibes and you can get to know more like minded photography friends. To give credit when it’s due, I did get to know more photography friends, spread my photography name and networks in the early days of Instagram.
As time went by, more people came on board Instagram platform, they slowly started changing and moving away from photographers and creatives. When it was bought over by Facebook, the ballgame totally changed, turning into a marketing, branding and publicity platform.
Besides all those changes, the Instagram environment had become more toxic, it’s all about fame and follower numbers. The egos and cliques made it unbearable at times. There were times whereby I did harbour thoughts of leaving Instagram, I didn’t exit, I just continued in a carefree and leisure manner, by my own terms and standards.
What lies ahead for my photography?
There had been a number of occasions over the past few years since I registered my photography business whereby I reflected on how I was running my photography business, leisure/personal photography and content creation work. From pivoting and changing to what I shoot, diversifying and expanding my creative suite of services.
A recent deep personal reflection and thinking at the start of June 2022 got me strategising changes ahead. What lies ahead for my photography?
I am working and planning on expanding my content creator scope bigger and wider, to be less dependent on commercial photography, partly due to the current economic and market situation, as well as how the future of standalone photography might turn out to be.
What would the changes be like? What lies ahead for my photography? Would there be big changes or small changes? Let’s see how things turn out.