Respecting the Craft, and Protecting Our Rights
If you're not a photo-nerd like me, you may not have heard the recent comment by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer claiming professional photographers simply don't exist anymore. ........guffah......stab me in the eye with a pencil.......etc
Yahoo, which owns the incredibly popular, if not over-saturated, Flickr said this: “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.” To so intensely disrespect the community of artists that use and pay for a service her company owns (Flickr) is simply disrespectful and in terribly poor taste. What does it mean that internet moguls and leaders of the digital image-sourced world believe that the art of photography has been so terribly dismantled since the dawn of the digital age that now, in 2013- only 200 or so years after the medium was born- the 'professional photographer' not only does not exist anymore, it holds no relevance.
It frightens me when I look out at the internet, or pass by a gallery's window, or look in a book about 'how to photograph pets', or see in an industry magazine what our society at large currently accepts as 'professional photography.' The fact that nearly anyone can get their hands on a camera these days is simply wonderful- that is is the true spirit of photography, of art, of creativity. The backlash of the digital world is that the internet has provided a free-for-all of images, the majority of which are taken by hobbyists. This leaves the professionals- who have dedicated their lives to their craft and support themselves and their families through the sale of their work and services- to fall to the very bottom of the pool. Because there are simply less of us. Because our job is incredibly hard and not for the weak of heart.
Now our society is more prone to 'use' an image they randomly find online instead of doing what the previous generation did- which was seek out a stack of printed portfolios from a selection of professional, well respected photographers, and then hire (for MONEY) that photographer to complete a specific project. It's so much easier for a designer or marketer to do a Google Image Search for 'child with dog', illegally download that image (probably not watermarked), fail to PAY that artist (professional or not), and proceed to use that image in some marketing campaign without ever giving proper credit or monetary compensation to original source. That is what I consider a complete disintegration of the creative system. And people like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer are fueling this downward spiral.
As a professional photographer and small business owner, I have a lot of pride in my craft and always tell students or interns to never do anything for free. It's common practice in 2013 for companies or individuals to request services from photographers (come photograph my event! come photograph my dog! come photograph my wedding!) without compensating them - and expecting that to be acceptable. Well- it just isn't. Just because there are millions of 'photographers' out there, that does not mean that all photographers are created equal. You simply get what you pay for. Artists spend their entire lives developing their craft, and dedicating themselves to their unique for of expression. Some artists do that on top of running their own business. The time, energy, and personal attention it takes to create something physical (a painting, a photograph, a sculpture) out of a complex thought or concept is incredibly hard work. If being an artist- and a good one, at that- was so easy, EVERYONE WOULD BE DOING IT.
Therefore, please be part of the Revolution of Realness! Please respect your local artists, and become patrons of their studios! Please seek out professional photographers and painters and illustrators for your next design project, and DO NOT just steal artwork you find on the internet! Please help keep things real. In an age of digital mediocrity, please be a Patron of the Real. It's revolutionary.