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Friday, August 19, 2016

How Advancement in Technology has affected Professional Photography

Barbara Minishi, photographer (Kenya)
Written by: Cosmas Omegoh

Photography is a love affair with life – Burk Uzzle
With the presence of new digital cameras and phones, professional photographers are kissing their Jobs goodbye.

Commercial photography in the country is struggling to survive. Some people believe that the sector is going down the cliff. They express regret that fewer numbers of entrants are embracing professional photography, unlike before when many made their living on the job.

Now, a large number of people have handheld devices capable of taking instant, crisp pictures. This new culture is driving the final nail into the coffin of professional photography. People anytime and anywhere, are better able to take their own photographs without recourse to professional photographers.

Some people might say that its not surprising that professional photography is suffering this cruel fate. They believed that, like some other industries, it is facing the bitter test of change; change brought about by time.

Time, it is often said, changes everything. Many believe that time’s eternal waters can incredibly bring down anything. Solid memories of the past had at some point been erased by time. Technology too proves capable of erasing the gains of the past.

Advances in technology, it has been noted, are believed to have enhanced and at the same time diminishing the progress of professional photographers. Since the invention of the camera according to Wikipedia, by a man - Thomas Wedgwood about the year 1800, photography has been evolving.

But today, commercial photography appears to be suffering a serious setback. The arrival of camera phones capable of taking, storing and transmitting photographs has dealt some deadly blows on professional photographers and their trade; they have been forced to take the back seat.

Photographers who were doing well in the trade some years ago are now watching the sector descending the valleys. They are merely fighting to make a living from it in the face of dwindling patronage. Their efforts centre on retaining the patronage of those still in need of their services.

However, there is this new tribe of professional photographers determined to reinvent the mill; this lot is striving to take the act some notches higher than earlier known levels. Their effort is currently being bolstered by the thriving movie industry always in need of improved, still photographs with the right appeal.

But has this new spirit been able to draw professional photography anywhere out of the woods?
The answer is negative, as two professional photographers stated recently when consulted.

Jossy Ademulegun aka Sir Jossy Photos, and Chima Ashamole (Chimaria photos), have been active professionals since the early 1980s. They have seen it all. And so, when they lamented that the trade, which still fetches them their daily meal, was in steady decline, they needed to be taken seriously.

Brief Discussion with Jossy Ademulegun aka Sir Jossy Photos - Male

“I love photography,” Ademulegun said. “For me, photography is a passion. I went into it largely because it is such a neat job; it compels you to dress well; it helps you to meet people, you attend to well – dressed people.

To be honest with you, this job has taken me to places; it has helped me to meet very important people; I have worked for the high and mighty. But the truth right now is that photography is facing serious challenges. The coming of computers and Information Communication Technology (ICT), has in some way positively enhanced our job but have affected it for worse.

I learnt photography with analogue cameras. That was in 1980. Ever since, I have had 16 apprentices, who learnt the trade from me. One of them now is vast in the use of digital cameras and the application of computers in photo production. Because I didn’t want to be left behind, I had to approach him some time ago to learn new developments in the trade, not minding that he is my boy.

What I’m saying is that computers have changed the face of everything. I have even had to read computer books to be abreast of developments in our work.
But at the same time, these new developments have shrunk our business. In fact, ICT has affected us more adversely. See, for instance, everyone now has their own camera phones with which they take their own pictures. Long before now, if you wanted to take photographs, you simply went to a studio and have a few shots taken.

I had a friend and customer who, each time he wanted to take photographs of the equipment which he sent overseas, he always invited me. But since the coming of computers and camera phones, he doesn’t invite me anymore; he probably does the job by himself.

What I am saying here is that we have been losing customers. This trend has increasingly affected our income. Even nowadays, we hardly have new entrants. Some of our colleagues are closing shop. But I still love this job this what I know how to do best – he lamented.

Brief Discussion with Chima Ashamole (Chimaria photos) - Male

Ashamole has this to say;
Before the advent of these devices, people used to call us to take photographs of accidents and scenes they wanted to present as evidence before the police. Now, we are only being invited when people have occasions like weddings, housewarming, burials and other very important ceremonies whose memories they cannot afford to lose just like that.

What that means is that we are no longer making as much money as we used to make before this time. However, in this era, we have seen tremendous improvement in professional photography. For instance, I can take photographs now and print them right from my printer and deliver them in minutes.

We no longer use ink in printing and have long discarded the darkroom. We no longer make use of 36 – exposure films; we now use SD cards and compact memories which contain as many as 900 exposures that can even be recycled.

Aside from the onslaught of time and technology, the activities of quacks had contributed to the problem. He lamented that quacks were taking their jobs and spoiling the trade at the same time. Some of the young people going about with cameras nowadays are doing so for lack of jobs.

When you attend occasions like weddings, you see them in their numbers. You can identify them by the way they handle their cameras; their prints too are amateurish. He disclosed that although commercial photography was going through a rough patch, the real professionals like him were still striving.

To hang unto this trade, one has to have a good camera capable of taking quality, professional photographs. As for me having an excellent customer – relationship strategy is key. I have long learnt to treat my customers well such that they have no reason to leave me.

However, in order to survive, I do a whole lot of things, photo albums, photo books and other forms of packaging. I will continue to survive in this job as long as I do it well. Those who know their job well enough capitalize on it and don’t bother about what others are doing.

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