The Shallows Part 3
The Internet & Commercial Photography
As with most things, the internet has completely changed the way commercial photography, as a service and as a product, is exchanged. On one hand, internet allows amateur photographers to be discovered, and allows people to view and be inspired by a range of work they wouldn’t likely see otherwise. The internet allows for a sharing of advice or method and a sale of products on a scale that would previously have been impossible. A high schooler with no photography training but what the internet considers to be a “good eye” gets their photo posted to reddit; suddenly, they’re both famous and able to make a potential profit from their work. The proper usage of social media can allow photographers to reach larger markets and have followings around the world in unprecedented ways. Take, for example, the Facebook/Tumblr phenomenon Humans of New York and its multitude of imitator sites.
But on the other hand, amateur photographers who think internet recognition is sufficient repayment for their photos will drag down the entire market for commercial photographers. Custom photos, once the norm in print advertising, are increasingly being replaced by stock photos as budgets for print media decline with subscription rates. The internet has also permanently changed photography as an art form, because digital copies are generally indistinguishable from the original. This has two main impacts: a piece of art can become suddenly commonplace, and art is less frequently associated with an artist and most often shared without credit.
In essence, those who have trained to be photographers generally see the more negative effects of the internet, while those who are amateurs and hobbyists see the positive.