Video: The camera market is shrinking, but are smartphones to blame?
You don't need a crystal ball to see that camera sales have been declining over the last decade, and, although it may seem that smartphones are the most obvious cause of the declining sales, it's arguably a much more nuanced set of reasons. It's something Photographer Robin Wong explores in a new video and blog post.
As Wong explains, the photographic landscape has changed greatly in the last few years:
1) The current generation of cameras are sufficient for most tasks
Wong says that if you take a deep look at any camera released in the past five years, they are certainly "more than good enough to tackle any challenging photography task thrown at it and deliver satisfactory results."
2) Interest in photography is waning
Wong believes interest in photography has reduced in recent years - caused by the democratisation of photography - essentially the lowering of the barrier of entry for photographers through cheap cameras.
"A lot of people bought cameras not because they were interested in photography or wanted to get wet in the world of photography, they simply joined the cool club of owning a camera," he writes. "Peer pressure is an effective tool to drive sales. There was a time almost EVERYONE has a camera. What happens when the bandwagon is full? There is only so much new camera users the brands can target."
3) Social media has changed photography
Yes, the old selfie argument. But Wong's point is a valid one - selfies have changed how photography is valued and perceived. As he writes, “You don’t need 61MP for your selfie photographs, you don’t need ISO100,000 to shoot that slice of cake, and you certainly don’t need a super-telephoto lens to shoot your cat licking her paws.”
4) Photography is stagnant
Wong saves perhaps his most controversial statement for last. In his view, the vast majority of modern-day photographers are doing what is safe and known instead of breaking new ground.
"Today all we do are merely imitating what has been done before over and over again, a million times. What's new today? Look at the Instagram feed - sunrise, sunsets, long exposure photography, portraits of beautiful lady, more model shots, these are good photography yes, but they have been done to death and there is nothing new anymore.
I don't see anything truly thought provoking and revolutionary from the work of today's photographers."
As Wong writes in his conclusion, photographers need to try and tap into the initial reasons they were excited about photography if the trend of declining camera sales is to be reversed. This means reigniting the passion and love for the artform, while pushing ourselves to do more, better - no mean feat.
What do you think, is their some validity to Wong's points, or is it just a simple case of the smartphone making photography easier and more accessible? You can see Wong's blog post here.