Since it is the start of the New Year and also, for me, very much about new beginnings in my photography, it is time to consider where things are going.
Photography is in the process of undergoing changes every bit as large as those of the switch from film to digital. In fact, I would argue that we are still going through that process and the changes that are happening now and will in future are still part of moving from a film-oriented to a digital-oriented way of thinking.
Compact cameras are disappearing and being replaced by smartphones, which not only take great images, but have the massive benefits of always being with you and allowing you to process and modify your shots at or near the time of shooting via apps. Any camera you have with you takes better shots than the one you left at home, and so many of us, me included, who would not usually use a compact camera now do so all the time. And you see more and more well known photographers posting iPhone images online, and wonderful images they are too. The benefit of being able to throw apps at our shots is not to be underrated and in fact the mainstream camera makers need to pay heed to – photographers want to be able to customise their cameras.
Another major equipment shift is in the area of still vs. video. Where we are at right now is that video and still cameras shoot both video and stills. When you choose one over the other what you are doing is choosing where the emphasis is placed with regard to controls and functionality. The fact that cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800 are being used to shoot motion pictures shows just how capable they are. It gives filmmakers access to all the great still photography lenses, from macro to extreme telephoto, lensbabies and more. And we can see how this capability has already revolutionised filmmaking and commercial areas of photography, like wedding photography. It means that many of us who saw ourselves as still photographers are shooting more and more video. This is an exciting time for photographers, as it is opening up new markets, new services we can offer and new creative possibilities.
There are major changes afoot with printing/display. The spread of full HD large TVs meant that more and more images were being shown electronically rather than printed. The beginnings of the home 4k TV market will advance this further, as the resolution and size of these TVs is actually allowing more people to see far more detail in their photography than they ever did before, remembering that most people do not print their images large. It is my hope that this might start to get people used to the idea of bigger images hanging on their walls, extending the market for large prints. But they may just decide to use their TVs as image displays. Could there be a market for selling high-resolution images to big TV owners, but how do we avoid piracy?
Camera makers are continuing the decline of the human race by perpetrating the idea that dSLRs will give people better pictures without requiring that they actually engage their brains. They will continue this as all that matters is selling more cameras. Thankfully that creates more opportunities for photographers to run workshops on how to take better pictures.
So what is coming up? Expect better and better video capabilities and more of us to make use of it. Expect someone to integrate apps into a dSLR. I would be great if someone would pair up with Apple and make this iOS but I suspect we’ll be stuck with Android and so have to worry about malware and viruses on our cameras. GPS will become a feature of all cameras (yeah). There will continue to be room for new, niche equipment makers to fill accessory gaps that vastly expand the usefulness of our cameras. Full frame will continue to move down market (yeah).
For me personally, 2013 is a year for a deeper engagement with video and pushing my still photography in new directions and to greater depths. This includes pushing my art further and experimenting with new (to me) techniques, like extreme macro.