You’re probably wondering if this is another post sounding the imminent death of photography or not. Well, I hate to disappoint you but it isn’t. Not in regard to photography in general anyway.
As a medium, photography is finally getting to a point of independence, having passed comparisons and tests from other art forms and a pretty massive digital revolution/transition.
Now that doesn’t mean all these changes that have given it its current status are good or that anyone knows the absolute truth in regard to the current direction of photography. We don’t know if it’s good or bad and it’s one of those things everybody has, and should have for that matter, an opinion about.
But let’s talk about professional photography a bit. Unless you’ve been living in a cave with no Internet access for the past 20 years, you have probably noticed the major impact of post processing, retouching, editing or whatever you want to call it on photography. Basically, we’re talking about how much is computer work and how much is pure photography in a final image.
These days it can be hard to tell. In fact, some claim that the days of “real” commercial photography are numbered, and by real, I mean the whole show with the large crew , a forest of light stands , models, sets, people shouting and finally yelling “it’s a wrap! ”.
It’s obvious for anyone that things are changing and you can see it best when you look at the icons. Take Annie Leibovitz, one of biggest names in photography ever. Have a look at her work from ten or fifteen years ago and look at what she’s done for Disney. You don’t exactly need an art degree to figure out much is photography shot with a camera and how much is CGI ( Computer Generated Imagery).
Annie Leibovitz for Disney.
Product photography is also in great danger. It’s much easier to create something with software like Keyshot than pay a photographer for his time, gear and without being sure the final result will look clean and neat. Below is an example of what Keyshot is capable of doing in minutes, according to their website.
All this is achieved with mathematical algorithms and other tech stuff I know nothing about and no mouse or tablet work to remove dust particles or other spots.
Perfection is what companies want their products to show and computer graphics makes everything easier than photography.
As for people photography, we still have a few years left to breathe. Rendering human skin appears to be a really tough thing to do, from a scientific point of view. Since we see skin all around us, all day every day, we are pretty hard to fool with fake skin. But I’m quite sure the boys are working on it and it will be hyper realistic in no time. We’ll see how much you will charge an ad agency then.
Source : Wikipedia Commons
Also photography is light, and from a lighting point of view, it’s easier and cheaper to mimic light conditions on a computer than to carry a van of studio lights to a location or to wait a few hours for the landscape to be properly lit.
I’m not making any assumptions here, but I will say that things are looking a bit scary for pros in some branches. Of course, guys like Terry Richardson have nothing to fear.