In any “photo op” moment any more, it is difficult to miss the invasion of the camera phone. Where it used to be easy to know when a camera was nearby and if people had them on hand, now someone with a mobile phone could be a covert digital photographer. Even at occasions that used to be dominated by the professional photographer such as weddings and so forth, we now see those dozens of hands going up snapping photos with camera phones that seem to dominate the scene.
Conventional photography is a highly developed art form and occupation. The precision of the instruments and the ability of professional photographers to provide a top quality product to their customers is well known and the result of many years of evolution of the profession. But right now it is possible for any person to become an amateur photographer using that small cell phone in their pocket or purse.
The question needs substantial consideration for three audiences. For the qualified photographer, is this the end of your occupation? Will digital phones erase your customer base and make you obsolete? For the aspiring photographer, what about your future? Should you even invest in learning how to use the advanced equipment that makes professional photography so remarkable? Why make an effort if camera phones are going to make it all obsolete? And for you the client, can you get the same high quality of photos with using smart phones as you can by employing a professional photographer?
These are valid questions. When a new technology starts to make encroachments into a profession for the old guard of that profession to feel endangered, it is very common. When television came along and the media dubbed it the death of radio, it happened. It happened when talkies and then color was introduced to movies and television and at each technological advancement in the music industry. And with each dire prediction of the collapse of an industry, the opposite took place and that industry adjusted, evolved, improved and prospered even.
So there great reasons not to stress that camera phones are most likely to wipe out photography as we know it including …
* Camera phones can not obtain the same levels of excellence. There is a good reason that the professional photographer has acquired the highly sophisticated gear that he has in his studio and that he or she takes to a shoot. The numerous years and decades of research have materialized the problems with quality that primitive equipment could not handle. Contemporary photography equipment has precise instrumentation to handle illumination problems to properly frame each photograph and to produce a professional quality outcome that people want from a wedding ceremony, a family portrait or any kind of professional photography. You can trust that forensic photography, fashion photography and photography for publication will never be willing to accept the low standards of quality that are the outcome of smart phones photos.
* It’s a rookie game. When you see kids holding up their smart phones at a concert to take a picture, you know that phone is not going to result in a professional quality shot. This is especially true in a live setting like a concert where there are multitudes of complications such as lighting, visual noise and other problems that have to be overcome with sophisticated instrumentation just not available on a smart phone. Camera phones are a recreational photography device. And they will always occupy that niche.
* Standards of the end product would be compromised. And high standards of quality are what make professional photography a value to it’s customers.
This is not to cast smart phones in a detrimental light. They have their place and they are good fun. We in the professional photography field have nothing to fear from the growth of this technology.