When I was a youngin, I got a old Vic20 as a gift from my uncle in Chicago. Years later that was upgraded to a Commodor64. Somewhere around 1991/1992 my dad bought me a 386sx 25 (as in 25 megahertz). I think it cost him around $3000. It came with one whole megabyte of RAM, a 104megabyte hard drive and a 15" CRT monitor. I was in the 6th grade at the time. Six years later it was finally time for an upgrade, so the summer before my senior year in high school my dad bought me a Pentium 166 with 32 megabytes of RAM, 2.5gig hard drive, Diamond Viper video card with 2MB and a 4x CD-ROM. I was the king of the block among my geek friends with this new beast of a computer. $2800 shipped.
I did a lot of PC repair at the time. The internet was just taking off, Windows95 had just been released, ISP's (Internet service providers) were starting to pop up everywhere promising blazing fast 28.8Kb/s connections to the world wide web. Yahoo was THE search engine (google wasn't around for a few more years), 56K modems were a year away, broadband was only a theory and everyone was starting to get a computer. This meant huge bucks for folks like me as I was a bit of a computer geek. You know when your mom or grandma ask you questions about computers? That's how damn near everybody else was at the time! I would charge $50 right off the bat, then $20 an hour plus parts.
Over the next decade and a half something happened. Technology erupted. The dot com boom came and went, my cell phone is faster than my first 4 computers combined and downloads faster wirelessly than my first cable modem. Google became a household verb, my monitor is bigger than half the TV's I've owned in my life, unlimited information is a click away, millions have new jobs have been created supporting the tech industry, damn near everybody has a computer. Making the kind of money I did on computer repair in 1996 simply ain't going to happen these days. Sure there's just as many people that look like a gorilla landing the space shuttle when they sit down in front of a computer. But computers have gotten cheaper, warranties are better, you have services like GeekSquad.
With this growth in technology came the digital camera.
No more nasty chemicals, no more needing to drop your film off at the lab or even worse mail it off and wait an hour or weeks for your prints to arrive. A fraction of a second after the shutter closes after an image shows up on your screen. You can put it in your pocket. It's relatively affordable and is available on damn near every cell phone you can buy these days. The digital camera is a growing beast. And now there are not only cell phone cameras, but even with a normal camera you can share your image with millions of people within a second.
So why in the hell shouldn't the markets surrounding photography change??? MY GOD PEOPLE! Get with the times! Left and right people bitch about how the art around photography is disappearing, it's tough to make money in the photography world, photojournalists jobs are going away, people are giving away work and taking it from the hard working photographer, blah blah blah la fucking blah.
Times change, if you don't change with them, you WILL fall behind! Newpapers and magazines don't have full-time photographers because they have access to billions of people that are going to be on the scene of anything going on in the world. Is the "quality" of the photo or video as good as a professional....no...not always....but a lot of times....yeah....it is.
There are more sources now for learning photography than there ever have been. Do you think back in the early 90's Karl Taylor was planning on doing instructional videos? Probably not. The same goes for Kelby, McNally and Arias. The list goes on and on. But they all embraced the times we live in...
I for one am so happy in the direction that digital photography has taken us. I go jump on the interwebs and find and connect with so many talented photographers. I don't have to rely on some curator to decide what's worthy and what's not worthy. Or wait to see who was lucky enough to be featured in some book or get a book of their own. I have the power to seek out photographers who work speaks to ME.
Signal to Noise Ratio
On Instagram alone, there are 55 Million photos shared a day on average. But even if we take .001% of that....we have 5500 photos DAILY that are probably excellent to great. But of course that also means there is a whooooole bunch of bullshit. Yet I still get exposed to more great work every single day than I did in a month or a year 20 years ago. And that's not even including Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, 500px just to name a few off the top of my head. Find your own way of filtering. And remember....just because someone is a famous or rich photographer, doesn't make them a good one.
Many of the famous photographers of today and yesteryear was very well off financially prior to being famous photographers. Many worked for years or were born into money and many didn't become famous until after they were dead. Would anyone give two shits about your art if you died today?
Giving work away for free
It's a reality, every day we gain 5 times as many "photographers" than we lose. While that number is totally made up, a truth is that a vast majority of the population likes to be liked. Another truth is....not everyone can afford to spend $5000 on a wedding photographer. If your business is in danger because of someone with a Canon Rebel shooting weddings for 100 dollars, YOU have failed as a business owner. Get with the times, stop whining and press on.
Not too long ago interest rates went up....housing prices fell...people weren't buying houses. That sucked for a bunch of realtors....but some survived just fine. The same happens in damn near every single market out there. The dot com boom...lots of ups and downs there. Car industry changes by environmental rules. 35mm film prices go up because of a 98% drop in film sales over the past 20 years. The list goes on and on. Stop making excuses..."all the good jobs are being out-sourced" "the plant is closing" "nobody's buying cordless phones because everyone has cell phones" "flying cars kill tire sales" "nobody's running Novell Netware anymore" "Windows ruined DOS" "everything is moving to 4K". It doesn't matter what job you're in...you have to adapt with the times......the arts are not the exception. If you're doing it for money, you are a bitch to the system.
No Pants Day
Every week I make it a goal to have a no pants day. I've been doing this the greater part of my adult life. Think of it as a "me day". It's not always a completely non-productive lazy day (though it is sometimes), but it's a day I'm not concerned with the outside world. I'll catch up on household chores, process photos, piddle around online, watch Archer, Top Gear, etc. And now do a blog. It'll probably revolve around photography or art, it'll probably have some pictures I shot that week (but might have some oldies), I don't really know what'll happen. It's my day and I'll write what I want to. Ideally with no pants.