This is the second time I’ve tried to start the Smartphonegeek website. The first time, my poor site languished and was ignored by me for things like soccer games, traveling, restoring vintage audio gear and not least of all, work.
So in rebooting this site, I have also made the choice to shut down my Michael Sweeney Media photography site because trying to make a living with photography today is in my opinion, just about impossible and I don’t need the website now. I think we have come in a complete circle with the advent of Smartphone photography. The photographer today has quite a bit in common with our ancestors with cameras. They were folks that had day jobs or patrons that funded this “hobby” of photography in their spare or not so spare time. Now, with smartphones decimating the professional market, we are back to working day jobs to fund our photography passion. In truth, it is very hard to make a good living, put money in savings, raise kids and be middle class as a professional photographer. At some point, the fun leaves and it becomes a job. A secondary pressure on pros is we used to make good money from prints and picture albums. Now with everything online, that revenue stream has become severely limited. Even with weddings which were the bread and butter of a good many photographers has suffered a contraction in money earned vs the number of photographers. Between Craigs list low prices and the lack of print sales of any kind, it has become a challenge to make a living. Notice, I say a living and not beer money.
In my case, this has been a slow realization that started some years ago when I got laid off from my job and I went to go “pro”. But within a year I saw the handwriting on the wall after writing a book on iPhone photography and really experienced just how good these smartphones are in trained hands or even not so capable hands. I went back to my day job which pays the bills, puts food on the table and so on while I use all my “real camera” full frame stuff for personal projects and getting awesome sports shots of my kids and the odd job.
What has taken the place of shooting with 20lbs of camera and lenses, is my iPhone. I take it everywhere and I’ve spent a lot of time really learning how to push the limits of the iPhone and I still think I have a ways to go. The newest software is truly amazing with what it can do now. Apple and other vendors have finally gotten the message that glass counts too and are starting to innovate with lens design and using multiple lenses to get better results.
Now we have battery cases that work, real glass lenses designed to augment the smartphone built-in lens, awesome software for BOTH the camera AND post-processing, better screens and more.
This really came home to a few weeks ago when I took a trip with the family to San Francisco and did not bring my DLSR. Not one body, not any of it. I shot the entire trip on my iPhone with my Moment lens set and battery pack. That is the future of photography. The DSLR manufacturers have finally thrown in the towel and admitted as much publically.
So I will happily create art with my smartphone on one hand and mourn the loss of the skills that a real camera makes you use. But in all truth, it’s not the gear that makes the artist, it’s the person and how they translate their vision with the gear they have. I still have my “real” camera and I still shoot film for a few different reasons so in the end, I think it will all work out.