|These AI-generated images were created by feeding a textural description into a program called Midjourney v4. They were posted to Facebook's AI Art Universe page by Giuliano Golfieri.|
In this issue:
- The Shrinking Market for Photographers
- In the Pipeline
- Tethering to your Laptop via your phone's Wi-Fi hot spot
- RV Life / Our New Home
The Shrinking Market for Photographers...
When you're a work-for-hire photographer and you move to a new city, you have to establish your client base all over again. But things are different now - in the age of smartphones, everyone's a photographer. In fact, photographers are slowly suffering the same kind of career fate as audiologists (the ones that outfit you for expensive hearing aids, which are becoming more affordable thanks to the self-testing possible with bluetooth-enabled smartphones) or a Knocker-Upper. (And don't get me started about the new wave of AI-generated photo-realistic images which are amazing but will no doubt put a lot of photo illustrators out of work.)
So where is the market for the skills the traditional photographer brings to the table? Let me rank what the most common options used to be. Many of these insights come from personal experience and also many interviews of photographers for Cameracraft magazine over the years:
- Advertising - This will never go away. The world of advertising understands the benefits of a good concept, flawless execution (including mastery of lighting) and high resolution images.
- Fashion - Can you even imagine the fashion industry without imagery? And yet the marketing folks there churn through photographers, as they're always looking for a "fresh, new look" in their fashions as well as their imagery. If they liked what you did for them six months ago, it will be seen as stale now. Time to hire someone else.
- Corporate Head Shots - Much more stable source of income than the fashion industry, since if they like you, you have a customer for life.
- Travel Photography / Tourism industry - completely saturated; plus there are a gazillion stock shots you can license for one dollar.
- Stock Photography - see "Travel Photography" above. (Plus, the position of "Photo Editor" (who used to have a budget for licensing images) is now in the "Milkman" category.)
- Sports - Smartphones can't do what today's flagship cameras can do in terms of subject tracking, the ability to shoot telephoto, or sheer resolution. On the other hand, publications like Sports Illustrated just shoot 4K video now and capture freeze frames after-the-fact. Decisive moment? HA!
- Photojournalism - The need for this will never go away, but the market for it certainly has shrunk. So many newspapers have cut their budgets for photographers, relying on smartphone images from their staff writers instead. Image magazines like LIFE and LOOK are long gone, and I would argue that sites like Instagram are not modern-day equivalents. Even National Geographic is cutting back, relying more on stock images these days. And really, when's the last time you remember seeing a photo essay (other than in Cameracraft magazine, that is)?
- Wedding photography - Nobody understands what a wedding photographer does, as evidenced by all the complaints about why such photographers charge so much. Plus, people like the smartphone shots that people take over the official photographer's shoulder just as much as the official image! I've written about Wedding Photography Horror Stories in the past. So, like camera manufacturers, the way to succeed in this space is to concentrate on the high-end, high-production style for wealthy clients, like the kind done by Keda Z (https://www.kedaz.com).
- Filmmaking - a tiny and saturated market, but boy do they understand the value a skilled photographer brings to the table!
- Family Portraiture - These too are falling in popularity, except for those that want a family heirloom. And even that can be a hard sell, since modern heirs don't want to be burdened with more stuff like physical canvas prints.
With that in mind I've taken on a contract position as a headshot photographer for a company that specializes in branding for real estate agents, with an eye toward pivoting that into real estate photography. It will help pay the bills as I ramp up my business in our new home of Plymouth, Massachusetts. (More on that below.)
One of the first things I did as I prepared for my first assignment was to solve a long-standing technical problem I had shooting tethered(ly) to my laptop. I'll talk about that next after a few announcements.
In the Pipeline
A supplement for the Sony A7 IV has been released covering new features for Firmware 1.10. Contact me with your proof of purchase if you haven't already received your copy. The supplement is free.
Tony Phillips' book on the Fujifilm X-H2 and X-H2s should be released in December. Email me to be put on the notification list (Gary at Friedman Archives dot com).
After that, Tony will be writing about the newly-announced Fujifilm X-T5. (And I'll be compiling another notification list.)
Sony 7R V - Yes, I'll be explaining this camera in the usual ridiculous detail. (Am reading the manual now. Did you know you can now swipe UP on the display screen to get to the Function menu?) Let me know if you'd like to be on the notification list.
Tethering to your Laptop via your Phone's Wi-Fi Hot Spot
[Continuing from about on my contract photographer position... ] A day of shooting head shots for real estate agents will be filled with periods of shooting and then periods of image selection and retouching and form filling-outing, meaning lots of time where the camera is turned off. My goal is to be able pick up the camera and immediately start taking pictures, having the pictures instantly show up on the laptop without any futzing with memory cards.
Easy, right? Lots of tethered shooting options already exist, right? Nope - none of the usual methods worked for me. What's the problem?
For starters, Lightroom, Capture One, and other usual programs that claim to support tethering over USB don't actually work with Sony cameras. The only program that worked for me was Sony's Imaging Edge Remote desktop software, which times out after 5 minutes of inactivity. I don't want to have to re-establish the connection every time I pick up a camera. The other option, configuring the camera to upload pictures via FTP over Wi-Fi, is great for when you're sending your images to an FTP server somewhere around the world, but it's not at all obvious how to send it to a laptop on an internal local network using your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hot spot. What’s the name/address of the FTP server in that case?
After much trial and error I figured it out. It works great, and I share the secret with you here in this downloadable .pdf file. You're welcome. :-)
How We Lived / The New House
If you've been following the blog for the last year or two, you'll know that we moved to Boston in 2020, then to Plymouth 8 months later. We finished the basement and I built myself a dream studio and produced a lot of great work in it (well, I thought it was pretty good, anyway :-) ). But the complex wasn't built very well (some people STILL have leaky roofs and cracks in their foundations), and the Homeowner's Association fees went to subsidize gardeners who didn't know how to weed nor work an irrigation system. Plus we were told just how many lawn ornaments we were allowed to have in the front yard (and which kinds of flowers), how many pets we could have (and what size), and even dictated whether we could smoke or not in our own home. This really rubbed my wife the wrong way.
So we started looking for another place to move to, a place where we could do what we wanted and could switch to a different landscaper if they weren't doing their job. But the real estate market was so hot at that time that once we looked at a house, we were told that if we wanted it we had to submit our best and final bids at 5:00 PM that day which would be binding. No chance to even look around!
Normally I'd say "It doesn't make sense to buy at the top of the market", but we chanced upon a builder who had snatched up some property from an old Boy Scout camp on a beautiful wooded area next to a pond, and he was building houses one at a time at what we considered were very reasonable rates. And we didn't have to compete with others at escalated prices for the privilege! So we set out to have a house built to our specifications.
I will say this - if building a house were easy, everyone would do it. It was nothing but headaches, with builders who didn't like to communicate. (Actually the whole ordeal is worthy of its own blog post. But who would want to read it?) I'll also never understand the appeal of RV life, but lots of people have fond memories of past trips in their own life. To each their own.
|Working in our respective offices|
|Oh, look... something ELSE in the motor home needs fixing!!|
|At least I brought a tripod so I could get a little creative between periods of crampedness. Sony A7 IV, eighteen 15-second shots merged with StarStax. Light on pier and trees came from a flashlight.|
|The night before the movers came...|
|The day the movers came...|