Passion. Not Pessimism.
As a photographer, Im an artist. I embrace change. In fact, I completely encourage it. This is a fact my poor, loving wife has to live with. Change has its pros and cons. It scares the shit out of some people yet it fuels that inner fire and keeps others moving forward. When i entered the wedding photography industry full time last spring, I didn't realize the magnitude of the change it is going through. With the advance of digital photography, more and more people now have access to amazing cameras that take amazing images with little or no talent at all. So naturally, with more and more people taking pictures ... more "photographers" are going to pop up. Digital photography has given so many people, including myself, the ability to hone their craft with basically no added cost. Digital cameras are getting better and better .. and it is now the preferred medium for most professionals - at least new ones. There is no doubt change like that can be a good thing.
In this time of "digital revolution," I have found myself taking what some would call a step back, although its not, to pursue film photography. I give thanks to digital for teaching me the ropes ... but my heart belongs to film. For me, shooting more film is a change. And its the best one thats happened to me so far since delving into this livelihood.
But there is a direction wedding photography is going that I'm finding hard embrace. There seems to be an aura hanging over the industry in regards to what constitutes as "professional" photography. With the benefits digital provides, more and more photographers are popping up onto the scene and in my opinion, calling themselves professionals much too quickly.
I know what you are thinking. How can you judge what is a pro and what is too quick? The answer? You can't. There are no guidelines. I'm completely self taught so having some degree or class telling me i'm pro is a slap in the face. The fact is that with more photographers comes more mediocre photography. Purchasing a 5d mark ii or D3s doesn't make you a pro.
What i'm seeing less is passion. I know there are passionate photographers out there and obviously I don't know all of you. But i do know the passion is disappearing. I'm not speaking of loving your job or loving that you take picutures for a living. The passion i'm speaking of is a fire inside driving you to be a better artist - a better photographer. There is too much of a "business approach" to this art. The business approach seems to have trumped the "art" approach. Too many photographers care too much about blog and site hits, comments, seo and workshops. I'm not saying you shouldn't care about them. I'm saying too much emphasis is put on them.
The passion i'm referring to is not just love for photography ... its love of light and composition. Its loving your clients and caring for them as you would your friends ... not treating them like potential sales. Its not striving to take on amazing image at a wedding .. its wanting to make every image taken that day amazing. Its about making your clients tear up. Its completing a session and not being 100% satisfied with yourself. Its constantly wanting ... striving to be better. That is not the way the wedding industry seems to be heading.
The internet and social networking has brought all photographers close together. The world is so small now. But we've never been so far from the art of photography. Photography is not taking 5,000 pictures at a wedding and bragging. Its not how fast your workshop sells out. Its not how many followers you have. Its not ALL about your branding and marketing. Its not about how many weddings you have booked or even how much you make per wedding. I can't say what is going to happen to the wedding photography industry. No one can. I want nothing but the best for my art. I love what i do and i know others out there feel the same way. But i feel its a dying breed. Too many photographers want to be the "next big thing" and they'll do what they can to get there - quite often focusing more on doing that than creating an amazing product.
There will always be awesome photographers and there will always be the opposite. Putting the artist mindset aside, I DO understand its a business. But to me, if you have the drive and passion to create amazing images - the work and clients will follow. Clients don't care how many hits you have or that your logo is letterpress or foil imprinted. They care that their images are real. They care that you documented one of the most special days in their lives. You could have the crappiest logo ever created and still be successful.
How can this be fixed? Put more effort into your images and study photography. Study light and composition. Study people. Interact. Be passionate. Do that first, then move forward. But whatever you do, don't mistake this message for pessimism. Its not. I care deeply about where this industry is headed and I want to make sure its in the right direction. We can all start by being honest. Be honest with yourself and colleagues. Don't bullshit and embellish and sure as heck don't kiss ass. After all, these so called "rockstar" photographers don't just appear - they are created.
Who am I to rant like this? I don't know, maybe i'm over stepping boundaries. I'm just a regular guy doing something I adore. I didn't write this to piss anybody off. I wrote it because, well frankly, I felt like it. I know others have said all of this. Its a hot topic right now. But I wanted to put all of this out there. I'm sure some will relate and some will hate. Either way, it doesn't matter. But rather than sit back and keep it all tucked away - I chose to speak my mind.