There have been many stories about the death of PR (see my post Circle of Life in PR). And now it seems that SEO is being killed off too (see this Forbes piece). Yet, the last time I looked, the PR field continues to grow; and I don't get the feeling that good SEO professionals are lacking work.
The same, sadly, cannot be said for the field of professional photography; yet you don't see many articles about its decline (there was one such piece in the NY Times two years ago; more recent articles about the field focus on the photo retouching controversy).
It is a sad fact that the growth of photo sharing, digital cameras and cheap stock photo sites are sucking the life out of professional photography. People are all too willing to sacrifice quality in the name of saving a few bucks.
I know this because I ride the train every day with Steve Lesnick, a commercial advertising photographer.
Steve is extremely talented, and has a great track record and portfolio (see the link and photo on the right); yet his business has suffered, and he is not alone, if you believe the NY Times piece.
I asked him for his comments; this is is what Steve had to say on the topic:
I've been living and watching the entire dumbing down of visual arts that has taken place since everyone got Photoshop/Quark/Illustrator and a decent digital camera. They were supposed to be tools, not styles or an end result.
Great images create an emotional connection with the viewer. To me, a company that brands itself with mediocre imagery in their advertising makes it look like an afterthought.
Since when is "it's good enough" good enough, if you want to stand out from your competitors? Wouldn't it be cheaper to do something that is more memorable from the beginning?
If a company will only spend a nickel on their advertising/images are they only going to spend a nickel on product development, testing and customer service too?
If you think Steve sounds a little bitter, can you blame him? It is not easy to see your life's work, and the field around it, become increasingly irrelevant.
But perhaps there is hope for photography. More and more people are speaking out about the power of visual images in marketing, and the importance of high quality (see these examples: You Should be in Pictures, Studies Show that People Ignore Generic Photos, 5 Content Marketing Ideas worth Stealing, The Evocative Visual Approach to Social Media Marketing).
Amidst the online noise and clutter, a compelling image might just be ticket to having your marketing stand out.
Online marketing is growing, as is content marketing - both increasingly benefit by using high quality, professionally produced imagery as an attention getter. Will the rising tide of these forms of marketing lift the boat of professional photography?