Monday, April 29, 2019

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

The King is Dead, Long Live the King
April 29 2019, Carl Garrard

Opine: Our camera market has been on a decline since the rise of the smartphone and the introduction of a few very clever apps. This is primarily due not to the technology of the smartphone but rather because of the convenience of apps in one single device. Most people prefer convenience to quality, similar to the days of SLR film cameras vs. instant prints or disposable cameras. The latter two, sold in vast quantities much more than the former because of convenience alone. But the smart phone and apps aren't the only reasons for decline, but they are indeed the primary reasons.

Make the best photographs you can. Show only those.

I'd like to think that other factors have come into play to the decline in the camera market here as well. One factor, is similar to any tech that is mass produced. That factor, is the quality of the product itself. As pressure mounts on the camera market to come out with better tech, each generation it leaves in its wake is more capable, reliable, and higher quality before it. At some point, long ago, we experienced diminishing returns on our investments into cameras and lenses. Camera and lens manufacturers can only take this current path of improvement for so long before they completely run out of ideas or technology to entice new buyers. This situation is already in full swing, and I don't see any way out of it. It's in full swing in many areas of mass production in our economy.

Tell people why they are your best photos, sometimes the story behind them is just as important and inspirting.

The camera market will continue to decline if our habits don't change their current course, and mirrorless can definitely not save it. Sorry Canon and Nikon, although you will do well to gain market share with your new products now and in the future, overall sales will continue to fall for years on end. The bubble of digital photography burst long ago and we are waiting to see how far it will decline before it levels out. Where we finally see it level out, lies squarely with the devout photographers.

Yet even they are stressed monetarily and have less and less reason to upgrade their equipment.
  • More megapixels isn't the answer.
  • More features isn't the answer.
  • More, isn't the answer.
  • Maybe there is no answer at all, maybe this is just going to happen and there's no fighting the inevitable. 

Another major issue is the amount of content that digital products has produced. It is literally everywhere we look. Screens in our faces nearly all waking hours, sales on products left and right, too much, way way too much. We are over-saturated by it to the point of it almost becoming intolerable. People are wanting analog more and more as a reaction to this over-saturation of content and digital devices. Sales prove my points very well, if you even needed any proof.

We can help, us, that's right. Us. We, photographers and videographers alike.

I'd like to propose a few helpful solutions to the camera market you don't hear every day. These solutions will not bring instant gratification to a dying camera market, nor restore the digital camera market to its massive peak and glory it once was. But, these solutions may help camera companies survive long term.

  • Teach your children photography, they need a creative outlet that isn't video games or watching movies on an iPad.
  • Learn photography fundamentals and have discussions with others about the benefits of real photography vs. using a smartphone only for snapshots.
  • Make cameras that are more specific to stills and video, vs. all in one devices. Video types and photography types are still very much into one or the other.
  • Manufacturers need to concentrate on the haptic experience when designing a camera, make cameras that beg you to pick them up and use them, i.e. eliminate frustrating design decisions before you put the designs to market.
  • Photographers make prints and exhibit them. Videographers, do beautiful and inspiring videos. Both of you read more books on your prospective subjects, and share the knowledge.
It could have been the last time you and a friend visited a place, before your friend passed on.

In other words, its up to consumers to change, to dictate what the market is. If you are waiting for the next camera announcement to be your perfect camera, or your inspiration to be better, you have it all wrong. Photography and videography are both glorious outlets of creativity, so let that be your primary goal. Let it not be the gear, nor being mental slaves to marketing campaigns of camera companies. What you want, camera companies will make, not the other way around. You just have to make it known and want it.

Be obsessed, and focused with making art, and beauty, and timelessness. Share your experiences with those you love. You'll be surprised how that chain lightning will affect everyone around you, and how that will ultimately save photography from falling flat on its face. Make a print, be proud. Be confident and display it on your wall. But most of all...

Stay focused.

Carl Garrard

Or a single image can be part of the inspiration behind a best friends blog page, you never know.

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