Has digital ruined the business?

Has digital ruined the business?


I feel quite free to comment as I’m retired, Plus I love digital; I’ve never been a high street photographer doing weddings and portraits. So I have no bias in writing this article

So in one phrase, ‘yes it has ruined some parts of the business” Please note the ”some”

Now lets go into it a little further, we now have cameras that are so automatic that virtually anyone can produce a correctly exposed sharp image. This means that the two things left to do is make sure the light is right and correctly compose the image, while making sure that the subject has the right expression or expressions In the case of an object of course we aren’t worried about expression but if we are seeing it to it’s best advantage, is it scratched is it picking up unwanted reflections etc. after all everything must be perfect.

So has the atomization made things easier, Up to a certain point yes and that’s where the problem lies.

Over the past few years there has been an explosion in the sales of semi pro dslr cameras, then of course it follows that there has also been an explosion in the number of photographers, notice I didn’t say professional photographers.

Let’s say that a certain percentage gets keen and can take a decent shot; he might think that he would like to start making money. Now I blame mothers for this, after all they never see a fault in their children’s work, remember the awful ashtray you made at school, your’ mother loved it didn’t she? Now why didn’t Mum say “that’s super you should become a potter” because however good or bad the photo you show her she will say ‘that’s super you should become a photographer” Probably something about age, after all 9 is a bit young for a major life changing decision Now that’s exactly what you wanted to hear, so you believe it, after all your mum wouldn’t lie would she, remember that ash tray!


So what type of photography? Press photography for example.

 Waiting for the prime minister to come out of his house, every time he’s in the news the cold or the heat , turn around and you’ve missed the shot, plus all that pushing and carrying a stepladder everywhere, no that’s not for me.”Carrying a ladder isn’t good for my back either.



“ That sounds like fun,swimming pools and lying on a beach , waiting for stars going topless , those super long lenses, whoops! Can’t afford one of those and the close up stuff is covered by 99% of the countries population with a 22mp telephone, so that’s out.”


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Police photography.

“Sounds pretty boring, anyway I’ve got those unpaid parking fines, so I’ll keep clear of them if you don’t mind”. Failed physics anyway


Ahh !! I know, what about Fashion photography.

All I need is a ponytail and an Italian or French accent; I could do that, “Av yu scene ma vork” no! that’s a bit German but I can practice. All those girls and trips abroad, yes that’s for me. One small problem is that Aberdeen isn’t exactly the centre of world fashion, so maybe I could move on to that a bit later and move to Paris. What if my clients make men’s underwear ugh.me and canon mirror


Cruise liners, they have photographers,

“ Might meet a rich widow! Problem! I’m sick every time I just see water and my wife wouldn’t like it either, that’s another one out “


“ Now I love cars, I can see myself shooting formula 1 around all those circuits and the magazine work. I saw a picture of a guy doing that, hanging out of a car at 180mph on a banked circuit, no light and in the snow, -5°  it was,  he looked frozen and the risk racing cars crash, Ah another one for when I have a little more experience”. volvo car




Advertising Photography.

“Doesn’t look that difficult, except they use those big cameras, I’ll have to find out where I can buy one, what about the clients, I think their called art directors or is it creative man. Could I really take orders from a guy in Yellow trousers a flowery shirt with long hair, droopy mustache and round glasses, I’d need a studio as well, plus is there any advertising work in Aberdeen !!”

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Food photography.

“Mmmm, that’s going yo need lights, I saw a film set where they were using lights, looked a bit complicated! Anyway I’m 110 kilos , so there goes my diet. No I think not.


Wedding photography,

Now that’s up my street, I was following a photographer at a wedding a while ago, I wanted to see if his shots were better than mine so I stood right behind him and do you know, they were practically the same Mum was right!. Added to that, It’s about the only branch that the client knows nothing about photography. Of course there’s another advantage, I’ll only have to work on Saturdays, there’s football though, so it’s not perfect but it will have to do.



Well there we have it another wedding photographer on the market, while only needing a bit of extra cash he can charge peanuts, as he has no rent insurance and all the other expenses, cash in hand as well , have a good meal and a few drinks as a freebie, so lovely jubbly.


So this has just ruined a lucrative business for the high street photographer.  Wedding photography has not just dropped in price but in quality ahas dropped as well due to this digital age. So what’s next? Well it seems that quantity has overtaken quality as our amateur will take so many shots, something must be decent! With that in mind, the next development might be guests taking all the shots themselves with their 23mp telephones say 80 guests each one takes 80 pictures, 6400 shots should make a pretty boring album. lucky he didn’t give up his day job.




Retired advertising photographer, now living in the Gers France and having a great time.


  1. Handy Folks Says: May 9, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Hello Phil

    Personally having a DSLR now since replacing my old film SLR has broadened my interest in photography a great deal. Being a Father of 6 daughters and having lived on a tight budget being able to snap away and take images on to an SD card is a God send. In previous years taking photos blindly on to film then waiting for them to be developed to see if any were at all good… and the cost. Now to go out and experiment at photography and being able to view the results on a PC, learning from them and not burning a hole in my wallet. Wow.
    I very much doubt i will ever earn a penny from my photos but i know for sure that i will improve.

    • Hi , Wow 6 girls, not surprising you are on a tight budget, getting in the bathroom must be hell as well 🙂 There’s not much doubt that you have a talent for landscapes so why not try a few shots on a photo library? It costs you nothing, and if you could get together , a lot of images of Wales (where I think you live) it could make a little extra. Art prints could do well in the tourist shops or even a local gallery my be worth a try. The old expression “nothing ventured nothing gained “is s true. You have the talent so use it !!

  2. MichaelW Says: May 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Talking of wedding photography, I can remember a program on the BBC about photographers who became famous in the 1960s – one of whom was David Bailey. Apparently when he finished his National Service he was commissioned to do the photography for two different weddings – one was for a girl who lived two doors down from his parents and the second was for one of the Kray twins which was a commission that he felt he couldnt refuse.

  3. You raised some very good points, Phill, especially about the ubiquity of cellphone cameras! This in turn has produced another undesirable side effect of the digital age: the increasing inability of people to simply exist in the moment—whether at a concert, restaurant, club, beach, you name it—they must pop out their digital thingy and expose either themselves or their surroundings. In terms of Heisenberg’s observer effect, we are spiraling down an endless rabbit hole of viewers being observed by other viewers, whose observations are in turn witnessed by yet more viewers etc.!
    Personally, I cannot imagine how looking through my phone’s screen at the stage can possibly improve the experience of what is meant to be a LIVE performance—except that it isn’t a live performance anymore, since it’s now being experienced through the medium of the electronic picture taking device. Soon, we won’t have great live acts anymore, but just projections of digitally rendered performers that adoring fans can then photograph & experience through their devices. After all, if we can render cars, advertisements, starships and explosions in utterly believable detail, why not construct artificial artists, too? (And I’m not just thinking Justin Bieber here…)
    Digital photography has undoubtedly transformed the industry itself. Gone are the days of sending films or prints via a courrier hurtling through the clogged-up traffic of London to beat the odds of making a deadline, here are the days of instant file transfers. Which is better? As an amateur, I’m not qualified to answer that, but I would argue that transformations of marketplaces and industries brought about by changing technologies also open up new opportunities—the transformation of the music industry in the wake of the MP3 file and iPod being a case in point. Where artists had been tied to a rigid recording & publishing model controlled entirely by labels, they are now free to launch their careers independently—and retain control over both the creative and business sides of their work.
    Consequently, if we are faced with a changed professional landscape and assuming that we are equipped to enter it both in terms of skills and technology, the question arises as to how and where to enter it? Aspiring photographers, both amateur and professional, need to know where to start. In the scenarios outlined in the article, all doors are ultimately shut—but by the applicant himself, not the industry. Surely, then, success in the world of digital photography is as much a matter of putting up with whatever challenges a chosen path presents (from doing 180mph on a banked course to dealing with men’s underwear) as it is of learning the craft and applying it diligently. And in that sense, I would argue, technology has not changed the business itself, but the means of doing business.
    Penny for your thoughts… 😉

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