Young photographers lament younger photographers

This is the text from the original Facebook posting that led to this BitDepth column.
The New York Times article is
Facebook users can find the thread

David Wears: I love ur sub-title. "Amateur photographers, happy to accept small checks for snapshots, are underpricing professionals". That is what is killing photographers in T&T today.
Tue at 1:03pm

Antony Scully: I tend to disagree. What's killing some photographers in T&T is the closed-minded mentality of keeping to themselves, for fear of the next guy learning something from them and taking "their" clients. This attitude has fostered mediocrity, and stifled the room for improvement. This has made it quite easy for amateurs to shoot a few frames, start up " [insert your name here] Photography" and subsequently undercut the professionals.
Tue at 9:14pm

Mark Gellineau: Anthony has hit the nail square on the head with that comment. What that article describes hasn't really made an impact on our photography market due to its size and monopoly style setup.
Tue at 10:34pm

Mark Lyndersay: Um, monopoly style? Closed-minded mentality? Who are you fellows talking about? In my time, I've known dozens of photographers working in Trinidad and Tobago and one thing has remained the same.

The photographers who don't share their knowledge pretty much have two tricks and can't afford to share one, the people I've learned from knew so much that they could talk for weeks and never truly get started on their well spring of knowledge.

There's been underpricing, cockiness, arrogance and informed ignorance throughout my relations with photographers in T&T over the last thirty years, but I've always respected the time that people like Gary Chan, Noel Norton and Harold Prieto gave me when I thought I knew it all and they showed me by example just how much I didn't know at all.

I don't think it's necessary to run around in packs to share and no great photographer has ever truly been my competition, unskilled, obnoxious photographers have done more to make my life complicated than any pro it's ever been my pleasure to bid against on a job.

With the ease of access to information about how professional photography is done in this Internet enabled world, I'm not even sure that anything, beyond laziness or a lack of craft can stifle improvement.

This is a glorious, almost unprecedented time for photography. Access is easy, information is abundant and the cost of experimentation is as low as it's ever going to get. I find it rejuvenating, exciting and something of a blessing to be able to work in an era that brings so much possibility out of so many people who might not otherwise have had a chance to express themselves.

Ultimately, photography is work, creative, often amusing and sometimes startlingly exciting work, but work nonetheless and just like it did in the late 70's and early 80's, the people who stick with the effort required will be those who really want to be photographers.
Tue at 10:57pm ·

Mark Gellineau: Well I feel schooled as usual in your wake Big Mark and I concur however I feel there is some relevancy to what was said prior. The times have changed and there are certainly less worthy veterans who take the time to impart their wisdom to the next crop of whippersnappers. There is also a new found explosive saturation of guys with cameras that the internet arms but doesn't guide.
Yesterday at 12:27am

Kibwe Brathwaite: Great comments from everyone and although I fully agree and appreciate Lyndersay’s contribution, I also agree with Gellineau; times have changed and there is a different breed of individuals today. Some are quite established, some think they are established, many of them with unnecessarily inflated egos.
But back to the issue in the article. I guess the technology is changing the industry. Honestly, I don’t mind if a wedding planner or a performing artist blanks me and chooses a $200 photographer, once they understand that in many cases, you will get $200 worth in quality. And that’s another major issue. Customers are, in most cases, not very informed to differentiate between work that has considerable technical and creative merit, from one that is.... well... not (insert any snap-an-ah-pong-ah-one-click-photoshop-filter-photographer’s name here).

Mark Lyndersay: Oh you young people. I'm sure this must all be very confusing to you, but no, there isn't a different breed of individuals today.

I've seen exactly this sort of thing happen twice before. The first time was in the late 70's and early 80's, not coincidentally, when I began taking photographs, there was a massive upsurge in photography related magazines (information access) and a huge reduction in prices on darkroom equipment and cameras (technology) that made is much easier for a complete amateur to shoot and process photographs just like folks with labs and cameras that cost thousands of 1970's dollars.

I bought quite a bit of the equipment I still use from the local photographers who bought into this idea.

In the early 1990's, computers became absurdly cheap compared to the cost just a few years before and software became a commodity. The first product to achieve mainstream status as a widely pirated product was Pagemaker. It was fairly easy to use, much more powerful than Wordperfect and encouraged casual users to do anything they wished with a blank page.

In both cases, something happened over the ensuing years. Ready access to new technology and enthusiastic use brought home to people just how much work photography and later design really was. Their stumbling efforts to make good work taught them a little about a craft they had previously taken for granted, increasing the general understanding and appreciation of both photography and print design.

There were more professionals in the market after both surges in interest and both markets benefited from the increased awareness. Contemporary photography was increasingly recognised as an artform and design became much more adventurous than it ever had been. Typography, for instance, has never been the same since Fontographer appeared.

The thing is, good photography is hard work. Yes, the clever filtery stuff is much easier to do than it ever was, but that really just makes it the equivalent of the old "ransom note" graphics created by users who didn't really understand what fonts were for and how they should be used.

I've met everybody you've described and many, many more, not just once, but twice and I have to fall back on the wisdom of my elder, Noel Norton, who showed me by example that the answer to the madness of fads is to pick a path, preferably one that the crowds aren't all following, and work steadily at it.

I've always been grateful to Norts for that advice and I'm happy to pass it along. Shoulders to the wheel fellas.
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