Profound Changes In Photography

Jennifer suggested I take a look at Wired article "Photographs Are No Longer Things, They're Experiences." It starts off with this, "To say that digital cameras have profoundly changed photography is both true and cliché."

I would agree with that and emphasize the cliché part.

Digging deeper into the article (it is quite long and detailed) I got sidetracked by the link to the interview subject's web site. Stephen Mayes is director of VII Photo Agency and his business itself is a testament to the "profound changes in photography."

The main categories on the web site tell it all. They are; Photographers, Partnerships, Cultural,  Education and Films. You would expect a photo agency to feature the work of its photographers. But how about the other four categories?

Partnerships? Cultural? Education? Films?

Those are relatively new concepts for a photo agency business. Photo agencies are generally composed of a small group of select photographers that share a mutual interest in a certain type of photography. I'm familiar with some of the photo agencies that represent photojournalists and I can say that VII's business is diverse compared to others. That in itself is a "profound change."

When I checked today there were 20 photographers represented on VII's site. Overall their styles seem to be oriented toward documentary and photojournalism. In addition to displaying their traditional portfolios there is a "Featured Story" link for each of the 20 members.

There has been a resurgence in the concept of "storytelling" during the past several years. Even local TV reporters and shooters are being urged to adopt the concept instead of (or in addition to) the typical news reporting common to traditional TV news programs. That is a big change from reporting facts to something else entirely. Not that I'm against it but getting the who, what, when, where, why and how information is, in my opinion, still paramount.

Also during the past decade or so the "digital revolution" has meant enormous new competition for professional photographers who make most or all of their income shooting photos. Today you can generally add video to the offerings. Because of the competition and decline in revenue many photographers have experienced the better ones now teach too.

There always were many "master classes" and other photography workshops led by experienced photographers and photojournalists. However, to me it seems to be on the rise. After all, if there are many new digital photographers making ever-better quality digital images the market for educating them has grown too. Diversification is usually a good thing in business.

"The VII Mentor Program, a new initiative conceived by VII Members, seeks to provide professional development for emerging photographers whom the Members consider to be the brightest new talents in the industry," is one of the agencies educational efforts.

There are master classes and workshops ranging in price from $650 to 2200 Euros (a little over $3000 when I checked). The later is the Chernobyl Masterclass conducted by Antonin Kratochvil. The range of offerings and the international locations are not usually found on the typical photo education web site.

I attended the 1974 Missouri Photojournalism Workshop held in Warrensburg, MO. The program is now called The Missouri Photo Workshop. It did help me to improve my skills but it also provided a sort of reference point in my career path navigation. Perhaps more abut that in a later post.

The "Partnerships" page carries a long list of the requisite causes while "Culture" encompasses various programs, speaking engagements, etc. The "Films" page provides samples and background information on the documentary videos produced by the agency's photographer. An interesting range of subjects are represented including some of the requisite causes.

All in all a unique mix of products, services and offerings by a group of very talented photojournalists, representative of how they can rise above the enormous competitive environment wrought by the "profound changes" brought about by the digital imaging revolution.