...Or lack of one.
I don't envy young or new photographers starting out these days, leastwise, those with a mind towards making a career out of it. It's a tough business made tougher by the economy, technology, and more competition than ever.
It doesn't matter whether your hopes and dreams include being a photo-journalist or shooting editorial, fashion, glamour/tease, commercial, events, or most anything else. These days, the future for professional photographers looks like a bleak landscape, more so for those just starting out.
The economy sucks. No startling news there. Newspapers and magazines are shutting down in droves. Soccer Moms and Uncle Alberts are shooting weddings and events for near nothing. Everyone, it seems, is as good as the pros or think they are. What's happened to the career photographers who once owned these businesses and others? They're now competing with everyone else for whatever is left, photo-wise. It's like a pack of dogs fighting for scraps.
Photographic technologies have moved forward by leaps and bounds. Never has the technological state-of-the-art been so dynamic or seen such advances in such a short time! The results? Photography approaches no-brainer status, i.e., in terms of capturing images that are, or seem, competent in terms of their technical aspects.
Competition is overwhelming. Everyone, it seems, is a shooter. And many of them are shooting stock or posting pics on FlickR and elsewhere or giving images away for bragging rights, allowing the folks who once paid well for good images to pick and choose photos that are good-enough and pay little or nothing for them.
Of the many iconic photographers of yesteryear, how many of them would be able to make a dent in today's photo markets? Sure, talent is meaningful and the cream rises to the top. But when there's so little room for the cream to rise, and when so much cream (and other stuff masquerading as cream) is poured into the mix, the odds of standing out become longer.
From where I'm sitting, these trends will continue. For the career photographer, current or would-be, the future doesn't look so rosy. It looks more difficult than ever. Yes, some will always succeed. But the number of people who comprise those "some" are becoming fewer and fewer.
On the other hand, it's probably the greatest time ever to be a hobbyist!
The pretty girls at the top taking a bubble bath are dark-haired Sofia and blond Devin. Snapped that one in a house in Vegas in '07. The future didn't look so rosy then either, athough not as un-rosy-like as today. Image captured with a Canon 5D w/85mm prime. As I recall, I used a single light to illuminate them: A monolight with a Photoflex 5' Octodome to modify and, if I also remember right, a flex-fill reflector for some fill. (That bathroom wasn't very big.)
Note: This update is a cut-and-paste of a post I made on MM this morning. Since many of you aren't big fans of MM, I thought I'd re-post here. I was overdue for an update, after all.
The MM version of this update really blew up and it's still going strong. If any of you who read this blog are people who also participate on MM, and you responded thoughtfully to my MM OP, please feel free to follow my lead and cut-and-paste your MM response here, in the PGS comments. I'm sure there are some who visit here, and not MM, who would like to hear your thoughts on this.