Are photographers such as myself killing the photography industry?
I follow numerous photography industry related blogs with my RSS reader. It seems that at least once a week I read an article about how “part-time”, “hobbyist” and “micro-stock” photographers are killing the photography industry. One particular quote I read recently on the Black Star Rising blog gives an example of what I am talking about:
“Feel free, by all means, to make beautiful nature images, photograph protests in your home town, or do a nice portrait of a family friend. However, if you have any respect for other creatives — and to tangentially ensure their longevity — your action of taking $50 for an assignment that should have been $500, or giving away photographs for access to the limited locations that are credential positions, is detrimental to your fellow creatives, and those whose work you admire.” (full text)
Though I do plenty of work for pay, my main source of income is in the real estate industry. Since I don’t make my full-time living as a photographer, should I not be charging at all? If I shoot a wedding for $500, am I damaging the business of the photographer who’s packages start at $3,000?
Another point that many “real” professional photographers make on a regular basis is that microstock websites such as iStockphoto.com are killing the industry. Their point is that selling images for as little as a dollar apiece via these websites is hurting the industry by devaluing photography in general. I strongly disagree with this view. I believe that the microstock sites have opened up professional photography to a whole segment of the population that previously either didn’t use photos in their designs or who illegally stole images from the internet. These designers can’t afford to spend $100 on up per image, but will readily pay a few dollars for a photo.
I believe we are witnessing a transformation in the photography industry brought on by technological advances in camera equipment and internet delivery. We can either embrace this change, or sit back and watch it pass on by.
What do you think? Are part-time and hobbyist photographers hurting the industry? Or, is this a natural metamorphosis brought on by the advances in technology and communication?
Canon 5D, Canon 24-105 f/4L lens – 1/60 second, f/9, ISO 100