I like the thoughtful replies in this thread. However, I think it's a mistake to look at this from just one angle, and assume that the technology is democratic. The technology cares not what ends it is used in search of; the people who battle for their right to enjoy their livelihood - their freedom, democracy - make that distinction. One does not become a slave to technology, however, but they may already be a slave to ideas that deny them the full effect of their soapbox. Ironically, I feel that many pro photographers' laser-etched focus on the final image
cuts themselves out of the picture, suffering the indignity of seeming irrelevance that the founders of the field never suffered. But - I'm sure that ship has already sailed, and who could imagine Walter Iooss or another sports photog invited to joke around with the ESPN crew. Some things perhaps can't be changed, even if they should.
The complaint of the original pro photog reminds me of
And interestingly, I found the link again on a digital photography website. Furthermore, one of the top rated comments purports to be from an industry pro or insider.
It's true that the tools are helping a lot of people get into photography - lower prices have let me get into it with nearly professional-level tools, for example. We all know that there is not just a trend to mediocrity when prices and demand force a field wide open, but that there's also a lot of real talent out there. It's in most industries, too - everything from cartooning to even research writing has been impacted by the appearance of (the obvious one) affordable computerized assistance. No more does Robert Crumb have to slave over drawings and intricately shade them - you can do all that and more in any of a wild variety of paint applications, some of which even double as instant messengers within internet browsers. Instant feedback; endless ramifications. If Robert Crumb were starting today, you'd have to wonder what his new inspirations would be. If something seemingly obscure like "Keep On Truckin'" can have such an impact today even on teenage web cartoonists, what about the loop back? Some people (I'm not going to drag Crumb into this one) are such creative giants they are more or less able to survive as autarks, but I think a lot of that perception is nostalgia sleepwalking. Most everybody, even if they don't like to admit it, suffers little ill from mugging a bit back from the amateurs. (icanhazcheezburger.com for example - shamelessly ripping off the 'net amateurs and making top dollar while doing it)
I think the real issue for photographers is knowing when to put your foot down. I can imagine organizations that work on a charitable basis (either as their mission or as their way of stretching the budget) who won't know in twenty years who the guy or gal was who took photos for them for forty - because they just donated all the shots, not even putting down a name. I am a naturally greedy enough person that I would never allow this (I possibly have the complete reverse problem from the original writer, in that I put the planning and that contract stipulation down before I have the workflow or commitment ready...)
There's a bridge to the professional question. I've not worked as a pro in media myself (yet, possibly getting there...) but I do know that there are at least two directions to attack the problem from. One, the direction the original writer, and Ellison, and Frank Miller and countless others take, in shaming their fellow pros to take a stand for credit. An aside: A few weeks ago an academic was on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," a CNN talk show, was putting forward the theory (you can buy their book to read the full story!) that the rift between money-makers and everybody else was forced agape in the 1970s as top "talent" demanded more salaries...it's an interesting proposition; I'm not convinced that's true, but it stands to reason that if only some of the choicest figurehead staffers of a production get the biggest salaries that society, as a whole, suffers due to the inequality.
The technology doesn't seem wholly to blame for income inequality - the "Great Divergence" happened in the 1970s - but it can reinforce it when used by naive people: Starstruck, cowed, or just clueless.
That suggests the second route for attacking the problem. Instead of preaching to the choir (and a lot of us didn't swallow the argument anyway), and complaining about ballooning advertising costs, the original writer needs to scramble harder to rejustify their expertise and professionalism. Bedside manner isn't just for doctors. This is not, at this point in history, a matter of what's just or fair, but a matter of what you have to do in order to stay in business.
I've been around some academic poets who did not, on a casual look, seem to have this problem; it was just expected that if you were famous university faculty would invite you, wine and dine, and everybody in attendance would buy your books. But of course, poets suffer income crunch just as much as other artists, especially when modern poetry is regarded (rightly or wrongly - not an issue to get into in this space) as irrelevant - partly because people mistakenly thought that technology replaced poetry, which it does not. Whatever the case may be, the academic poets I've met seem able to live within their means and still wear a clean shirt.
My DSLR's video was good enough for some poetry readings, but I still haven't uploaded any - well, that's nothing to do with the quality, really. From that standpoint - asking permission before taking any video, doing it simply for the record and for posterity - it was fine as video from a fixed tripod of a speech, but nothing more. As I was putting myself through a crash course on photography at the time, I was content to ignore the questions about content versus technology, since I was working on my own technical abilities - but I'm not sure it was really a period of creative growth for me. In DSLR video, just a few experiments lead me to believe there's potential in tilt-shift style lenses for movies, but the current tools are woefully inadequate. I saw something on DPR about a standalone movie suit coming from Canon with help from Technicolor
...but that won't follow focus.
"I see allot of "self-taught" "Pro's" with 5d markII, 24-70 F2.8 and 580 Flashes shooting weeding in full auto mode whose work isn't bad in the sense that the image is blurry or under/overexposed, but the image is so god awfully bland, clichÃ© or "cheap" that makes their work bad, though most people wouldn't notice it."
The people who don't understand photography say oh what a great picture! although to the seasoned photographer they can tell whats wrong with the photo right off the bat
I suppose I should be proud of myself today for throwing away a couple technically superior images for ones with better compositions. Actually, I do it naturally - as wordy as I get I don't know that I always could sell somebody on what I do that makes the extra work worthwhile.