Adapting to the Ever Changing Landscape of Photography
For quite sometime now, especially this past year, I’ve had many people question my direction in photography—or perhaps new path; so to quell the rumors and the critics, let me explain my sense of direction. But first, let me paint you the background to shine a little light on the ever-changing landscape of photography.
As I’ve often said, right now this is the greatest time in history for photography, but the worst time in the history of photography for photographers. As an example, in the past not even two years, the Chicago Sun-Times and Sports Illustrated publications laid off, or fired, their entire photography staff and are now relying on reporters to capture their image needs along with a few freelancers.
Some say this new direction was a business decision because it’s easy to hire freelance photographers in the local area and save on lodging, air travel, per diem, etc., but it’s not the only crazy twist photographers have seen since digital photography and the Internet. In fact, stock photographers find themselves asking what direction is stock photography still going as stock agencies pay photographers less, thanks to the abundance of micro stock and royalty free images that continue to grow by the millions each year.
Throw in the fact that everyone with a smart phone has a digital camera in the their hands—quite good cameras too! Point that phone in any direction, then process your image through an app, and the photos look like masterpieces taken with high-end cameras by top professional photographers. Some smart phone photos have even made it to fine art galleries for curator exhibitions.
Finally, in the almost 16 years of conducting photography workshops, many studios I used to rent around the country no longer exist and those that do, are hosting more photography workshops than ever before, diluting the workshop market. In fact, I’ve seen many professional photographers who swore they’d never do photography workshops hit the road and do just that, as they try to find a way to supplement their income due to reduced photo assignments.
While some are in different photography genres than I when it comes to workshops, it’s now a diluted market that has taken many directions nonetheless; it’s taken its toll on all photographers, myself included, on the workshop circuit. Now that’s most of the background I wanted to paint before I explain my current direction in photography.
Basically my direction is this, I’ve shifted into more fine art, fashion, beauty and editorial photography than my previous years of glamour. I still shoot glamour, especially boudoir or private glamour, for private paying clients—but not necessarily for models unless it’s a paid assignment. Let’s face it, most young models want free photos, as they don’t have the money to pay for professional photography—blame it on the Internet modeling communities that created TFP, or time for print. I just can’t take pretty pictures to a store and pay with those photos for my groceries.
Another direction I’m focusing on is more writing, it’s long overdue and books sell better than photos do. While books take more time to create, they too are works of art if written well. While they can’t buy you groceries in their book form either, the chances of seeing your book vs. your pretty girl photos in the store is immensely higher.
So how do you get your books and fine art photos in a gallery? First of all, you’ve got to have great products, and that not only takes hard work, but commitment and a sense of direction. Am I lucky with such a beautiful and intelligent muse, Heather Carden, by my side? Nope! I’m not lucky; I’m blessed and trust me when I say that as you’re listening to a man who believes strongly in prayer and faith. Yes, she truly inspires me and that is what a muse does to any artist, writer, photographer, etc.
Now comes the critics, I’ve heard it over and over and over—stop it! Yes, my focus in front of my camera is my muse, not the non-paying models. To set the rumors straight, you’re darn right I’m not really shooting any other model other than my muse unless someone pays me. Blame it on my beliefs about the value of your photography as outlined in my article the Picasso Principle—Pricing Photos.
I’ve got more than a lifetime of photos of thousands of models; I don’t need more unless it’s a paid assignment. Pay me, I’m there.
In the meantime, “my direction” here is the Americano Dream concept. Call it a business decision, as we all have to protect our livelihoods. Call it a new direction in my photography, but don’t criticize me for adapting to the new direction photography has taken in everyone’s lives and how it’s impacted professional photographers in all genres. In closing, I’ll point you in the direction I always encourage in all my writings; don’t forget the men and women who bravely serve our country to protect our freedoms—God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.