Last week, with the release of the new iPad, also came the announcement of iPhoto for the iPhone / iPad. Different from iMovie, which is only capable of basic editing, iPhoto is closer to a full photo editing suite similar to early versions of Lightroom. There are brushes for dodging and burning, automatic horizon correction, targeted saturation and tint controls, and some features – like the way black and white conversion is handled, which Adobe should take notes from. Most of all, it’s easy, one or two taps later and your lacklustre vacation photos come to life.
Photo Editing for the Masses
It seems that Apple is attempting to push consumers into doing what until now has been the realm of professionals – perform detailed editing on all your final images. If this catches on, everyday people will be able to produce visually beautiful images. As this new reality emerges, I think many “professional photographers” will find themselves out of work.
The Democratization of Photography
Since its inception, photography has consistently become more accessible and easier to use. The first big change came with the Kodak Brownie, then 35 mm film, followed by digital, and now camera phones. For a long time photography has enjoyed being technically unapproachable for the average user, but with each leap in technology, the market for professionally produced images has shrunk. The last holdout has been on the editing side, anyone who has learned Photoshop, knows how incomprehensible it is to the first time user. iPhoto for the iPad is the first step to democratizing in-depth photo editing. If you’re the kind of photographer that simply takes straight, pretty images, there will come a time when iPhoto will replace your job.
Will You Survive?
To survive in the future, we as image makers must push ourselves to create deeper, more creative and interesting photographs. We must tackle subjects and stories that most can’t or simply won’t. We must explore new methods and techniques, both in terms of shooting as well as editing.
There will always be a need for high end professional photographers, but the lower tiers are already disappearing. The reality is that it is easy to take good photographs and it will only get easier. But good isn’t good enough. Great images surprise us, through their content or aesthetic, and at their best through both. Those who survive this transition will have plenty of work and will push photography to greater heights than ever before. Photography isn’t dead, it’s coming out of its infancy.