With all of the new entry-level prosumer cameras, and with smartphones like the iPhone being sold with sophisticated cameras built in, professional photographers can't help but wonder if they should feel threatened.
The answer isn't completely clear. There are many reasons why professional photographers aren't going to become obsolete anytime soon, but there are also some reasons why they might need to be just a little bit concerned.
One thing that has changed a lot in recent years is the way people display their photography. If your business revolves around family portraits, for example, it's likely that you aren't getting as many calls these days because everyone either has a Canon Rebel or the latest smartphone.
People are sacrificing quality for the speed and convenience of being able to upload their newest pictures immediately to share them with the world. And with selfies being a trend, people aren't too concerned about booking a fancy portrait session to show off their new look. Instead, they're using their smartphone, a bathroom mirror, and a high angle to show people what they look like anytime they want.
The Instagram app is very popular with smartphone users because it allows them to apply filters and effects to photos to mimic different styles that professionals would achieve. While some people use Instagram for self-portraits or family photos, it's also very popular amongst individuals taking nature photos or tabletop photography.
While this is typically more of a personal hobby/addiction for most people, the concept that people can quickly and easily take photos of anything, from food and scenery to products, and apply different looks before sharing them online certainly doesn't help the studio photographer who would otherwise be offering similar services.
In the same way, many restaurants may be unwilling to hire photographers to shoot their menu images because they can just have a manager go into the kitchen, take a few photos on a smartphone, and upload them with or without filters to their Facebook pages to advertise daily specials.
Tutorials and Articles
In addition to countless forums, message boards, and other resources for peer-to-peer lessons on the Internet, there's also a multitude of inexpensive tutorials and articles from blogs and magazines that can teach an amateur the finer points of an entry-level DSLR.
While this doesn't mean that anyone can become the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz after reading articles on the Internet, they can certainly get a better grasp on their equipment than they would've previously had. This instills a level of confidence in them that makes them feel as though they don't need a professional photographer's services because they can do it all themselves.
People Don't Value Quality As Much Anymore
People simply don't seem to value the quality of professional work like they used to. Years ago, when you needed photos of family events or landmark celebrations, or when you needed images for launching a new product or service, you'd hire a professional with skills that resulted from years of hard work and investments into expensive equipment.
These days, everyone can take out their smartphone or grab their T3i because they don't care about professional quality as long as they can get their photos inexpensively and quickly. In other words, many people are willing to sacrifice quality for price or convenience by doing it themselves.
There are still many people who know they can't do what a professional photographer can do. But, many times, they've come to that conclusion after they've already tried to do it themselves. The more advanced consumer level equipment becomes, and the lower the quality standards go, the worse it's going to get for pros in the long run.
Do you think professional photographers have anything to worry about? Do you agree with the points above? Feel free to discuss in the comments section below. And remember that you can sign up for classes, contests, and more by subscribing to the PT community.