Did a Stay-at-Home Mom Really Ruin Professional Photography?


We’re on our way to Java after some much needed R&R in Bangkok. It was there that I read the  recent article in the New York Times detailing the decline in photographers’ career prospects that is being whipped around photo circles like some kind of new gospel.

It’s the same old song we’ve heard since the dawn of microstock. Amateurs shoot millions of pictures and sell them for pennies a piece, commodifying the output, and vultures like Jonathan Klein of Getty make a folk hero out of a stay-at-home mom who’s shooting cool, creative pix of her kids because she doesn’t care what they sell for, it’s all found money to her. And that’s just the kind of contributor Klein needs to keep his shareholders happy and his shooters hungry.

Duh. What else is new?

Do I blame her? Certainly not, it’s a new marketplace, and from what I can see, she’s got a great eye (and professes a total ignorance of the basics of photography, so she is a hero to many—-not just Klein—-having attained great results and instant notoriety without quite knowing how or putting in the years of practice).

It’s the YouTube/Flickr model of instant artistic success. Why not dangle that as the new career model for photographers if you’re running a publicly held stock photo agency? You have about as much chance of succeeding in photography this way as you do winning a lottery, but that doesn’t stop billions from buying those tickets!

But if you’re tired of reading this same re-hashed obit for professional photography and want a really probing, far-reaching and intelligent analysis of the future of content producers, you have to pick up Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget.

Lanier is a famous virtual reality pioneer and major thinker in the field. He’s also a musician, so much of what he references in terms of content is music, but just substitute “photographs” for “music” and you’ll get the gist.

For a quick read of some of Lanier’s thoughts on the future of creativity and why virtual sex may soon be better than the real thing, hit the jump. (more…)

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More Fun at Home….

Photo © Bob Krist

Well, I know this is supposed to be a travel photography blog, and I have been traveling lately (but again, can’t show the results just yet due to legal issues), but I am having a stone-cold blast working on my “New Hope: In Character” community portrait project.

New Hope, or Coryell’s Ferry as it was called at the time, was the place where Washington and his men crossed the Delaware to defeat the Hessians and the Brits in Trenton on Christmas Day all those years ago.

These guys re-enact that crossing every Christmas Day here in Bucks County. They get in those longboats, and unless the river is choked with ice, they row across Delaware come hell or high water. It’s an amazing sight to see and a Christmas morning tradition in these parts.

Now, I don’t want to say that they take their roles seriously, but some of the guys who re-enact the crossing had ancestors who were actually involved in the original crossing three hundred years ago. Can you say, “tradition?”

I was so appreciative that these gentlemen decided to come up and participate in this portrait project. In these parts, these guys are almost as famous as the men they are embodying.

For a look at the lighting setup, hit the jump. (more…)

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L.E.D. Candlelight

Photo © Bob Krist

If you’ve ever tried to shoot people by candlelight, you know that you really need a lot of candles to cast light more than a few inches and your subject has to be really close to those candles to pick up that light.

When I was working on the shoot for Nikon Japan with the 24mm f/1.4 lens, we had a nice setup with the lovely Rose, a family friend, in period clothes at the piano of the Parry Mansion lit with several candelabras.

But the candles weren’t casting a clean, usable light.

So, how to keep the feel of candlelight, but boost the volume? Hit the jump to find out how some video technology came into play. (more…)

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