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January 17, 2007

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Chris Ratcliff

Ok, ok, I know I'm responsible for the link, and Seb and I have conversed on this before, but I will offer this.

Costs have decreased in photography to some extent. Film was never a big cost compared to the time, the travel expenses and so on. Posting a few slides or negs has never cost much. There has been little to no reduction in the cost or time required for post-processing.

But - the value of a photograph has not declined. Magazines are always concerned about their cover shots. The right photo in a brochure can make a huge impact, and a photographer who can consistantly produce suitable images is a very valuable commodity.

It's never been more important to have a good portfolio, lots of experience and good contacts. For a group of people who observe, it's time to speak up.

Seb Rogers

I think Chris has a point, and perhaps I should have clarified - much of the crisis exists specifically in news photography at the moment, rather than in editorial magazine photography.

Having said that, I know from personal experience that many of the pressures that news photographers have been feeling are being brought to bear on photographers in other areas. The value of the photograph demonstrably has declined in some areas - in monetary as well as in less tangible value terms.

I wanted to flag up the discussion because it touches on areas with which everyone's familiar - the web, camera phones, the democratisation of digital pictures - and explains from one photographer's perspective how they're changing the photography we all see, every day, in newspapers and other media outlets.

Make of it what you will...

Chris Ratcliff

On a somewhat related note, a friend is/was a studio photographer, specialising in product photography. They noticed as digital cameras became more prevalent they were less busy.

That was until the people who decided to do it themselves took the shots to the printers, who pointed out how rubbish they actually were.

The studio had less normal work, but a big increase in people needing shots doing urgently on the advice of the printers...

Somewhat more on topic, after watching the TV series Paparazzi on BBC3, I've decided that's a job I could never do. Big rewards, but a lot of leg work required, a lot of luck, and a lot of competition. I have a lot of respect for news photographers, as I think it's a genuinely important task which can put the photog in some awful situations. However if you start offering payments to the public for news photography, then you'll have some people more worried about stealing a few snaps in the hope of 'winning' £200 than following what the emergency services are saying. Being in the right place at the right time is one thing, putting yourself at risk for a few quid, and obstructing photogs who are there for legitimate reasons is quite another!

Seb Rogers

(Leaving aside the debate of whether or not paparazzi qualify as 'photographers'), the 'legitimate reasons' in question being earning a living. As opposed to basking in the perceived glory of seeing your own pic in print in exchange for, well, not very much. 'Free' content is the new media gold rush...

Chris Ratcliff

Rights grabs and resale issues aside, will citizen content mean a reduction in photographers, reporters, camera men and outside broadcast units?

Is it a veil of interactivity over a true motive of reduced costs?

Seb Rogers

'Rights grabs and resale issues aside, will citizen content mean a reduction in photographers, reporters, camera men and outside broadcast units?'

Probably, if all those various professionals are unable to keep a roof over their heads.

'Is it a veil of interactivity over a true motive of reduced costs?'

I think so, yes. But some may call me naturally cynical :)

Mike Osborne


In my limited experience its all because of digital imaging and wanting something for nothing. Its not the photogs fault that the newspaper/magazine/world have decided to not to keep with established names, instead they would rather get 'the photo' as cheaply and quickly as possible, regardless who took it, and whether its was taken on camera phone or a D2Xs. The thing is Fred and his camera phone isn't expecting any money and is glad of the £20 or whatever, and the professional photog has a mortgage, car, food, living to pay for, which cant be paid with a small credit at the side of the photo, or £20 a photo. The papers don't seem to notice this, If people started writing the columns and the papers didn't pay the freelance writers then people would know about it, just seems the mentality toward images and imaging in general.

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