February 27, 2015, 07:43:25 PM

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1
EOS Bodies / Re: Smartphones Already Won -- Laforet
« on: Today at 10:40:47 AM »
Who says there will be any reduction in the number of would-be pro photographers? As I said the supply has always far outstripped the demand. There is no evidence that will change. As for the "clearer separation of quality" again, that's in the eye of the beholder and there is nothing to suggest that the average customer is going to suddenly become either more perceptive or willing to pay for the difference in quality.

I think there might be fewer would-be pros because there will be a higher barrier of entry. Amateurs won't have a SLR if all they use is their cellphone, and they won't know how to use one. That doesn't mean there won't be more would-be pros than is needed, just that the ratio may go from 5-to-1 to 2-to-1.

As for the difference in quality, I'm not talking about slight differences in sharpness and dynamic range, but about real differences in what the picture shows and what it can be used for.
  • Size: If you want an advertisement billboard, you can't use a cellphone picture because it will look like crap. If you're a portrait photographer, you could offer 60" prints that will blow out of the water anything a cellphone can output.
  • Bokeh: Everything is in focus in a cellphone photo, so you can't have bokeh. If a client wants a picture with a blurred background, then a camera will a large sensor must be used.
  • Zoom: Cellphones have a prime wide-angle lens. If you want pictures of something distant, like sports or animals, then you need a camera with decently-sized lens. Again, gear makes a difference here.

If you're that negative about the photography market, then you should just leave the business. No sense continuing if you think things are already bad and only becoming worse. Yeah, photography as a commodity is dying. You must find a way to make your offer stand out as a uniquely desirable service if you want to succeed.

2
EOS Bodies / Re: Smartphones Already Won -- Laforet
« on: February 26, 2015, 08:51:08 PM »
This is good news for professional photographers. For the last ten years, competition has exploded because so many people would buy a SLR just to have a decent camera, spent a lot of time learning how to use it, then figured "Hey, if I've spent hundreds of hours learning photography and a few grands on gear, maybe I could make money off this skill!"

But now, people who aren't already hobbyists have no need to invest in a SLR since their phone meets their basic needs. Going up a level has a barrier of entry again: you must be willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and many hours just for an increase in image quality. Some people will do it, of course -- some always have -- but fewer than in the last few years.

At the same time, the difference between a pro photographer and an everyday photographer will become more obvious to the uninitiated. There's a limit to how large you can realistically print a cellphone picture, small sensors are crap at bokeh, and you can't zoom a tiny lens. These are all things that are immediately obvious and that adds value to the gear a pro owns. The difference between a cellphone camera and a SLR are much larger than between an entry-level SLR and a pro-level SLR. (Admittedly, some technology could reduce that quality gap, but whatever can be used in a cellphone can also be used in a SLR)

With a reduction in the number of would-be pro photographers and a clearer separation of quality for the pros, I think the market for professionals may become much better in the long term.

3
So we're still calling photographs "art", are we?

Lordy...

Before we go further into a very productive online argument about whether photography is art or not, I have to ask for your definition of "art". Everybody seems to have a different definition, so until this is clarified, any argument is pointless.

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That turned into a great discussion of the realities of the art market after all. Thanks all for the insightful comments.

5
If you can convince people of the message or meaning of your work, you will attract more serious art buyers.

Finally, going back to your original point - high prices sell.

Those are the basis of my two main points. To attract high-end buyers, you have to convince them that there is a very deep meaning behind the picture. But to attract the very highest-end, it might even be better to have a picture that appears like it might have a deep meaning, but that nobody actually really understands. That way, the buyer appears superiorly smart when he shows it to visitors of his personal gallery -- essentially saying "I get it but you don't, so I understand art better than you do."

The high price further limits access to this art, further showing that the buyer is part of an elite club.

This is a cynical point of view, I'll grant you that, but one I think has some validity. I don't think it applies to most purchases of fine art photography (most people just buy pictures they enjoy looking at a moderate price), but it's the best explanation I've found for the stratospheric height of value for some pictures. I'd like to hear alternate points of view about the motivation of the buyers of these pieces (and for this discussion, I don't care about the artist's motivation or hard work, this is all about the buyer).

6
So I go in the business forum and start a thread about what the motivation of high value art buyers might be, and I get called a troll. Then every single reply focuses on the artists and what drove them to make their art, without a single consideration for the buyer's motivation.

Quote
It sounds as though you want to know some secret to becoming a financially successful artist.

I'm trying to understand the market, and that includes the buyer's motivation. What could possibly motivate a person to spend more on a single photo than most people make in their entire life? Why not buy a Robert Frank for $3,500 as you say? There has to be a reason.

This thread isn't a critique of art, it's about the business of art. There's a million other thread talking about how to take great photos, but very few about why people would buy those great photos.

I try to understand the market and I get insulted and dismissed without anyone even considering the question in return. You talk as if you think wanting to become a financially successful artist is a bad thing -- it's not. If nobody is willing to talk honestly about why art sells, it's no surprise that most art doesn't sell well or at all.

7
If the value of a work of art comes from the work of the artist, then it makes no sense for it to gain value after the artist's death when he can do no more art or any effort to be noticed. There has to be something more to it than that.

I'd love it if artists sold their art at a price that was directly related to the quality of their work, but it's obviously not the case. Many hard working, talented artists die poor, while some talentless hacks become rich. There has to be something more than artistic skill and hard work involved.

A few years back, a painting initially attributed to a German painter was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. The painting's value multiplied by several orders of magnitude. If it turns out it's not by da Vinci after all, the value will go down. It's the same painting, so why does the value change? It's not because the painting becomes better or worse.

Like it or not, there are market forces that influence the value of your work that have nothing to do with artistry, "the discipline to present a vision of his work" or even the artist's work to be noticed. Understanding those forces can mean the difference between being poor and being rich, doing the same work. I have no interest in being a starving artist, so I'll keep trying to understand those forces.

8
Do you guys have any argument about why you think I'm wrong? I was hoping for some actual discussion of the business and marketing of fine art, not some vague whining. It's no wonder photographers are all broke if that's the level of business talk going on...

9
I was thinking about those fine art photographs that no one seems to really understand, yet sell for ridiculous sums of money. The work of Andreas Gursky comes to mind, but there are other. I was trying to figure what it is that made these pictures worth so much money, while a very similar picture taken by a nobody would sit unloved in a Flickr account.

And then it hit me.

The artists selling these pictures don't sell beautiful pictures. You can buy plenty of beautiful photos for a few bucks -- that's nothing special. What they sell is a way for the buyer to feel and (most importantly) show that they are:
  • Superiorly rich
  • Superiorly refined
  • Superiorly intelligent

Essentially, they are selling to a small niche of super-rich buyers who want to show how wealthy they are and how refined their taste in art is. It's a bit like buying a Ferrari: you don't buy it because it's a very convenient car, you buy it to impress people around you.

The fact that the image is extremely expensive and that it's very hard to understand what makes it special is precisely what gives it its value. If the photo was affordable, they owning it wouldn't showcase the buyer's wealth. If the photo was easy to appreciate, then it wouldn't showcase the buyer's superior refinement for understanding it (whether the buyer actually understands is mostly irrelevant, it's all about perception).

10
EOS Bodies / Re: Bingo! New Canon 5Ds has 50.6 MP new rumored specs
« on: February 01, 2015, 06:15:48 PM »
I'm surprised at the lack of wifi and GPS. Wifi is useful in the studio (for wireless tethering) and GPS is useful to landscape photographers, the two types of photographers the 5Ds seems to target. Not a deal breaker (the price, however...) but they would have been nice features.

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EOS Bodies / Re: Patent: Canon 2mm f/1.4 Lens for Small Sensors
« on: October 18, 2014, 10:20:12 AM »
I wonder how wide a (very improbable) full frame 2 mm lens would be...

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Canon General / Re: More Canon Lens Mentions [CR2]
« on: October 10, 2014, 11:02:03 AM »
f/4 makes sense for an UWA. You can't use depth of field to separate subjects at that focal length and you can hand-hold pretty long exposures at 11mm.

13
Landscape / Re: Fall colours
« on: September 30, 2014, 04:15:42 PM »
Not quite peak colors around here yet, so here's last fall:

Variations by pagarneau, on Flickr

Parc de la Jacques-Cartier by pagarneau, on Flickr

Parc de la Jacques-Cartier by pagarneau, on Flickr

14
A 50mm fish eye?  ???

15
I subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, which comes with 1TB of space on OneDrive, their Dropbox-like service. If you need Office, it's a pretty good deal imho: you get Office for up to 5 computers and more online space than you'll ever need for $10 per month.

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