LAST weekend, I had a chance to talk about my passion in front of an audience who are phone photography enthusiasts. They call themselves, phoneographers. I bet that just before the 50s, photography was only done by a few. These few photographers spent a lot of time in their lives operating the massive camera. Today, maybe seven out of 10 people are taking photos.
The handheld devices where you can load a roll of film minus the bulky size followed. The number of photographers increased this time around since the camera had become more handy. Still, a high level of expertise was needed, though. Then the SLR followed, designed for both the professional and consumer.
This time, the proliferation of camera users skyrocketed. The number of hobbyists increased dramatically. By year 2000, the digital version came in and transformed the popular SLR camera to DSLR. Because of it’s ease of use and no expertise required to operate, it became an explosion of users.
You would see people walking around malls with DSLR hanging from their necks like an accessory to fashion. No film to develop and the digital file is ready for uploading in the net. It seemed like everybody was now a photographer. The professional industry was devastated with the influx of new breed of photographers.
Today, another generation of cameras has reshaped the landscape of photography, the camera phone. Although it came out almost the same time as DSLR, it was the link to social media that made the difference. Multiply the existing photographers by 100 fold, that’s where we are today.
While it’s true that quality output of camera phones are not as good compared as DSLR when it comes to printing especially for print advertising, a new breed of advertising was born, the online ads. Whether through social media or online digital store, the image requirement fits the quality output of a camera phone.
The camera phones will not replace DSLR. The capabilities of DSLR to capture an image with a wide range of lenses and functionality to deal with different shooting challenges, cannot be matched by camera phones. DSLR will continue to exist supplying images for both print and online, while camera phones will enrich the social media platform as a different form of advertising and people interaction.
It looks like this tandem will exist side by side for a while, but who knows what and when will be the next breakthrough in photography and what it will bring us? The idea of photography as an art form has been diluted quite a bit with technology. But I think that images that would make sense will still require an eye trained to see the values of visual literacy.
Keep on shooting, everyone!