I have some seriously bad news for the iPhone Brigade. Professional photography is back!
Most pros in the business have felt the pressure of the race to the bottom over the last decade and many of us have felt like a lonely drop of water trying to hold our positions at the top of Niagara Falls while the rest of the water crashes to the bottom.
We’ve seen and felt it everywhere. From the art directors that ask us to “make it look like someone just snapped it with their iPhone”, to the magazines that have asked us to do the shoot with an iPhone for the “prestige” (or more likely, a large cash incentive from Apple) afforded by using the latest gadget to photograph what should have been a high quality magazine spread, to the onslaught of crappy, cheesy iPhone photos and videos that clog all of the social media feeds.
We’ve seen the “reporters” at events with their selfie sticks and iPhones “reporting” on the event while blocking the view for those that came to see it. And no one needs to tell any professional photo buyer how difficult it is to find a quality stock photo in the modern stock photo libraries that have opened their doors to anyone with a cell phone camera and boast about having the largest collection of garbage ever shot!
The point of this post isn’t to complain about how things are. It’s to point out that the tide is changing. I’ve been seeing the signs of this everywhere. People are hungry for something of substance, quality and, yes, professionalism. Where professionalism had come to be considered a dirty word, it’s now the new novelty and back in demand.
This really hit home when I was working on this shoot with personal trainer and bodybuilder Brandon Schlaegel out in Venice. Typically a crowd gathers to watch my shoots in progress, but this time it was different. On a few occasions I heard someone say “Look at that camera! It must be really expensive.” as if a professional camera has suddenly become a novelty. And when I was shooting the shots of Brandon down in the rough sea below I sensed a crowd gathering around me. Then I heard someone say, “Oh my God, look at what they are doing!”
Before I move on, I have to say that plenty of the people that gathered were also checking out Brandon! And here again, you have someone that is completely professional about what he does and it shows! Big time.
There are other places where I am seeing the hunger for quality return. A recent example is the stock photo agency known for having amassed the largest collection of iPhone snaps and low quality photos launched an exclusive collection of high end stock footage shot on a RED camera. They said it was in response to increasing customer demand for it. Unfortunately though it seems at this time their only criteria for including footage in the collection is the camera brand used to shoot it. The curators of the collection seem to lack the experience needed to also evaluate it for things such as whether or not the camera was held steady, or if it was properly lit, or worth shooting in the first place… but it’s a step in the right direction!
No app made can replace creativity, experience and professionalism. And while cell phone cameras can get decent shots under perfect conditions, you have little control over them and they fail with a capitol F under difficult or challenging circumstances.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see professional quality work stepping back into center stage.