Signs of Hope and Change In Professional Digital Photography
This is a guest contribution by Georgia McCabe: Georgia spent 30 years as a Sr. Executive in the computer and photo industry at IBM, Eastman Kodak and Fujifilm. As a driving force in conceiving and executing breakthrough approaches to the photo printing, sharing and delivery market place, she literally “changed the rules” for a category undergoing massive technological change and re-invention. She is a certified social media strategist, and is a market and branding consultant helping businesses utilize the tools and power of social networking. Georgia McCabe
Wasn’t digital photography supposed to be easier, cheaper and offer tremendous new capabilities? With more and more professional photographers longing to go back and shoot a roll of film, or looking for customers who appreciate and value a high quality photograph, sometimes I wonder how all that hope and change is working out and whether the promise of digital was perhaps just a fleeting mirage.
To be sure, eliminating the cost of film and the delay of processing from a professional photo lab were big attractions for professional digital photography, but even the most accomplished professional photographers among us have to admit that they constantly glance at the full color display conveniently located on the digital camera back in order to confirm success. I have often wondered when experienced professional photographers will begin showing up in emergency rooms around the country, exhibiting a new and perplexing medical condition named something like PWFS, short for “photographer wrist fatigue syndrome,” which after extensive research will be found to be caused by pressing the shutter release and quickly yet subconsciously tilting the camera down to glance at the display back.
Up to now, if you wanted to go farther with an integrated digital photography concept, you needed to lug cables, adapters and laptop computers along on a serious shoot…and also have a second degree in computer sciences from MIT! Even with all that accomplished, tethered to your advanced and high tech setup, you began to feel like an old hard hat deep sea diver, tied to your life support by a cable with your feet and creative mobility limited by what feel like lead filled boots!
I am often disheartened by the perception that in today’s world of high quality digital photography, even with all of it’s tremendous technological capability and promise, George Eastman’s famous mantra of “you push the button…we do the rest” has been relegated to “you push the button and then you figure out the rest!” Recently, however, I have seen some real and encouraging signs of digital hope and change…and they are coming from, of all places, the consumer camera phone market. You don’t have to be a great technical visionary to see where all of this can go. At your next “event” setting, simply glance over your shoulder at the guests who are hijacking your pose, but are doing it with modern, integrated and wireless Android or Apple Smart Phones. With a few additional keystrokes on their devices (not really that easy since they don’t type well with their thumbs), their pictures can be made available to literally everyone in the room, of for that matter, anyone in the entire world, within just a few seconds.
My optimism is further bolstered by some recent developments, including a very interesting blog by Jesse Rosten, a digitally advanced professional photographer who has done some very creative integration of his own using a DSLR, an iPad and EyeFi cards (full article).
If you don’t feel that you have Jesse’s level of expertise, fear not, use a little imagination and check out how others are working in the consumer market to effortlessly merge the capabilities of wireless smart devices with the entire world of digital photography. To be sure, we’re not there yet, but just imagine being on a shoot in world with ubiquitous wireless broadband and a DSLR cameras that has wireless communications capability right “out of the box”…all of it seamlessly and automatically integrated for us with Apple like precision. It will happen and sooner than we all think.
With a little luck, and a lot of help, soon we will all be confirming, once again, that Eastman really understood a lot more about consumer behavior than we give him credit for!