Digitization Disruption in the World of Photography

The age of digitization has changed the face of entrenched businesses in many sectors. I’ll repeat a few of the most well known just for reference. Amazon.com vs. Downtown shopping — easy to find products and have them delivered; Uber vs. Taxi service — fast and inexpensive transportation; Netflix vs. Blockbuster — instant access to movies. OK that’s enough. The list is long and getting longer.

What do these have in common? Each company found a different way to address an underlying demand in an unexpected way. In the tech industry this is commonly referred to as ‘disruption.’ These examples in particular took advantage of technologies (most commonly the internet) that were not available when the entrenched industries came into being. They not only found very different ways to address the needs of their customers, they offered better and more profitable ways while also lowering costs for themselves and their customers. In my opinion we are about to see massive disruption in the realm of professional photography — and it will change everything.

The current era has brought us some of the most talented and prolific photographers. Is that because the levels of skills have increased dramatically? My take is that the age of digital photography has put amazing capabilities into the hands of individuals who in another time would never have picked up a camera. And some of those people have developed interests and skills they would never have discovered without access to modern photographic tools.

But the same tools that brought new talent to the fore has also inundated us with spectacular imagery to the point that average has become unacceptable and amazing is expected. Stock image catalogs are overrun with millions of mind blowing photos from talented people. And that arena is getting more crowded every day. The field has become so dense that there is an entirely new segment of photographers who routinely and willingly give away their photos. Unsplash has gathered more than 40,000 photographers who upload their images under a Creative Commons license that allows unlimited and unrestricted use. The so-called ‘do-whatever-you-want’ license has opened doors for creatives and given a showcase to these photographers. But if you’re a photographer, take a quick look at these shots and you’ll instantly become dismayed at the level of talent and results being given away for free.

Where’s the disruption?

When even spectacular images have become boring it’s time for something different. Social media tells us that posts with images get 3x more views than those that don’t. And posts with video attract 40x as many eyeballs. There’s a message there that is being addressed with looping video.

Ask any producer if there’s difference in cost and effort and time between producing a still image and a short video. You already know the answer. Creating video content on the same scale as what we can see in any stock image collection is realistically unachievable. But turning any still image into a video has suddenly become not only viable but easy.

Here’s one example from photographer Wil Stewart . The image itself is awesome but how many pictures of the milky way have you seen… this week?

Now take a look at the same shot with a little motion added to it and you instantly get the idea. It took me 2 minutes to edit Stewart’s shot and produce these results.

This is the most current example of digital disruption and it’s happening now in the world of photography. It will impact advertising, social media, presentations, and anything that includes digital images. But equally importantly it will give new opportunities to artists looking for ways to differentiate themselves.

Plotagraph Pro is disrupting the business and consumption of photography in a very real way. And the effects are as yet unknown.