Lot’s of photo controversy this last week.

First there is this:

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer certainly has people paying attention: moms, telecommuters, Tumblr-heads and the rest of the tech world, of course. Now, professional photographers. “Today, with cameras as pervasive as they are there’s no such thing really as professional photographers. … Certainly, there’s varying levels of skills.” Mayer said at a press conference Wednesday in New York, where she was talking about Yahoo’s purchase of blogging platform Tumblr, which was announced the day before.Besides a facelift that features bigger, higher-resolution photos, Yahoo is now offering Flickr users 1 terabyte of free space. This means the “Pro” option, which costs $25 a year, is being discontinued for new users.

MarketWatch points to a blog post by James Colton (below), a former Sports Illustrated photo editor: “Using her logic, I guess we no longer have doctors either because of WebMD and the proliferation of medical information available online.”

In a couple of tweets Wednesday, Mayer apologized for her choice of words: “It was a misstatement on my part and out of context. It was about the terabyte issue.”

May 21, 2013

By Jim Colton

Yesterday, at a press conference after an “acquisition” meeting of Tumblr, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was quoted with the following statement: “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.” 

Excuse me?

I had to remind myself that this was coming from the CEO of Yahoo, who now manages one of the world’s largest on-line image databases.  Besides the obvious, that this is perhaps one of the stupidest comments I have ever heard, it is also an insult to all the professional photographers throughout history who have sacrificed everything to their craft…including their lives.

Does she really think that anyone with an iPhone or a point and shoot can cover the wars in Afghanistan or the strife in Libya or Syria where we recently lost incredibly talented professionals like Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington?  She probably doesn’t even know the names of people like Robert Capa, Larry Burrows, Henri Huet, John Hoagland, Olivier Rebbot, and countless others, who gave their lives covering the injustices of war in the name of their profession.

Using her logic, I guess we no longer have doctors either because of WebMD and the proliferation of medical information available on-line. I wonder too, if she just asked a friend to cover her wedding rather than hiring a professional to document it….and by the looks of the photo that accompanied her statement, she might considering hiring a professional to take her corporate photo!

This whole idea that “anyone with a camera,” can be a professional photographer is both absurd and unsettling. It is bad enough that the web is now filled with fodder and noise simply because everyone THINKS they’re a professional photographer and feels obligated to post them immediately without regard to its content. There have been more pictures taken in the last two years than all of history before it….an incredible statistic! And as a result, we are being bombarded with useless clutter.

What we need now more than ever is better filters. And that starts with the person taking the image to the professional journalists who are editing them to the imaging folks who are toning them and eventually to the editors who publish them. We have an urgent and dire responsibility to disseminate meaningful and truthful images to cut through all the noise that is deafening us.

Look no further than to yesterday’s image by AP professional photographer Sue Ogrocki showing a mother carrying her daughter through the post rubble tornado scene in Oklahoma. The power of the still image, in the hands of committed and dedicated professional photojournalists, is unmatched. Let us never degrade our profession with irresponsible comments like Ms. Mayer’s.

So now we move forward to the end of the week. The Chicago Sun Times called their entire photo staff into a meeting Thursday morning and laid them all off. They are now going to use freelancers, and will also ask their writers to shoot pictures for their articles!!

So, my thoughts: Just spent 30 years building a career, open a career retrospective last night at an Elmhurst museum, big articles about me (YIKES) in both papers yesterday, and the punchline…………In about a year I will be living in the backseat of my car!!! Everyone with $300 and a ride to Best Buy is a professional photographer and will be working for the Sun Times within the next year! Wait till they see what the Sun Times pays for pictures, and the paperwork they have to go through to get the measly amount of money!!!



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One Response to Lot’s of photo controversy this last week.

  1. Anthony C says:

    A shame that there’s no shortage of freelancers who stepped right in after the Sun-Times sacked its staff, with probably countless more who want to.

    I understand that people need to make money, but honestly, I’d rather wait tables than vulture-pick a situation like that.

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