Photographers Should Go the Way of the Dinosaur

I have had quite a bit of experience researching and analyzing the world of professional photography. In my 4.5 years of fact-gathering, I’ve finally reached a conclusion. We don’t really need professional photographers anymore. Just to be clear, I’m not saying we don’t need photogra-phy. It’s just photogra-phers. I believe they really should go the way of the dinosaur. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this photo:

My photographer/blogger wife wrote a post about this photo a few days ago. It generated quite a good discussion. Why? Because the bodies on these models are all computer-generated. The heads are real though (albeit I’m sure they are Photoshopped to the hilt). They’re part of an H&M ad campaign wherein the clothing company will be using these computer-generated “mannequins” in many of their web and print ads.

Computer technology has gotten to the point where companies can create photorealistic imagery that only the most astute eye would be able to tell is a fake. Truth be told, there are enough photos of real models in the world now, where ad agencies, clothing and make-up companies, etc., could create an entire database from which to pull. So theoretically, you never need to take another “real” photo of a model again.

And it’s not just humans. For years computers have had the ability to create realistic landscapes and cityscapes too. See below:

This photo was taken on the plains of New Zealand. This ancient city and citadel is all that’s left of a great race of horse-riding warriors known as the Rohirrim. However, this photo is a fake! That city is computer-generated. Again, no photographer needed.

Move On – Adapt

I know a lot of you reading this are professional (or wanna be professional) photographers. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it won’t be long before you will share the same fate as Borders bookstore. But, there is time to adapt. Here are some ideas to help you in a zero-photographer future:

  • Learn computer programming. There are enough “how to” YouTube videos where I’m sure you could become an ace programmer in just a few months.
  • Master Photoshop. I foresee there still being a huge need for Photoshop artists. If you think about it, all the best photographs are heavily Photoshopped anyway.
  • Start a used camera gear website. Even though professional photographers will soon be extinct, there will still be soccer moms and scrapbookers who need camera gear to take photos of friends and family. It’s not like they’re going to go out and create computer-generated husbands (although at times I’m sure they would like to. 😉 )
  • Politics. This may seem weird, but I think a lot of professional photographers would make great politicians.
  • Show Business. Rock star and celebrity photographers (i.e. not photographers who take photos of celebrities, but those who are themselves celebrities) could take up acting and get into show business. Actually, I take that back. Movies are becoming just as computer-generated as photos. May not be the best idea to head into that field. I’d hold out and wait to see how Avatar 2 does. I predict real actors will also go the way of the dinosaur.

So, fear not. Even though you and your skills will soon no longer be required, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have purpose. What ideas do you have that ex-pro photographers could do?

Note: BEFORE you leave a comment, read this.

19 thoughts on “Photographers Should Go the Way of the Dinosaur

  1. So what’s your timeframe on this?

    How serious are you? I assume this is fairly tongue in cheek (great title by the way).

    I guess I don’t disagree that all creative services (video, photo, music, etc) will be more and more influenced by technology, but I don’t think technology will replace creativity.

    Interesting thoughts.

  2. Some of the more successful financially photographers were excellent graphic artists and photoshoppers. I hear what you’re saying. I’m already a computer programmer so that’s covered 😉

  3. Somewhat true but not always. I cannot agree totally. Already companies around us do this all the time with online photos that they buy from istock photo. It may put a lot of the photographers (example: Landscape and product photography as well as advertisers) from this genre out of business. I do not feel that the business of families or brides or other events will suffer. Its rather difficult to create a computer generated wedding or family reunion not to mention babies photos for families. (Picking the right photographer you can trust to take lasting photos of moments that will only happen once in a life time for them). I think this post probably has nothing to do with the memory making business for most photographers:) Certainly knowing the other skills that go along with Photography is something that people may want to hone up on. There is never a negative to that:)

  4. “If you think about it, all the best photographs are heavily Photoshopped anyway.”

    I love you Ron and enjoy reading your posts, and you make some very valid points here… but this quote nearly had me out of my chair laughing.

  5. I totally agree with you… That’s why when my daughter asked to go to Europe, I said “no, sweetie, you’ve already been to Disney World and seen a castle.”. We’ve also stopped eating out because tv dinners have gotten so darn good 😛

  6. It’s a good thing I don’t get hired to take pictures =) I get hired for my ideas & vision, and that’s based on my interaction w/ my environment & subject. Photography is only 10% photography and about 90% psychology.

    If you’re basing photography/photographers dying b/c of CGI & technology, then you can also say the same for actors as well. That craft will die b/c w/ CGI technology, you can make a 30yr Al Pacino act in a new hit movie. You can also bring Marlyn Monroe back to life!!! It’ll get to the point where they don’t even need actors or people anymore. You’ll just have to pay for the rights to use their name & image. You’ll also be able to analyze their voice & make them say anything you want via computers.

    I cannot wait until we get to the point where computers & CGI can go to work for us, have fun for us, & date for us 😉

  7. Haha that is quite funny. I assume it’s humour because if not you’ve missed the entire point of photography 😉

    Of course, we don’t want to remember our lives or have beautiful images of our children as they grow up or relatives, we have no need to record our histories both personal and global. Photography captures fleeting moments that are gone forever.

    You can’t CGI real life moments, and a fake picture of ourselves has no sentimental value.

    Still you made me smile.

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