Thursday, May 30, 2013

Who Needs Photographers Anyway?


I was floored today by Connie Schultz’s Facebook post relaying that the Chicago Sun Times had fired their entire staff of photographers.  It seems a reporter with a camera or a smart phone should be “good enough” to do the job.  I notice they didn’t fire all the reporters and hand the photographers keyboards.  Could it be that they realize not every photographer can write well?  That begs the question:  what makes them think that every journalist can take a decent photo?

We suffer today in business with the idea that we can cut costs because, given the right tools, everyone can be a generalist.  One person doing two jobs for half the cost is the wave of the future.  Here’s the problem with that theory…you have one person doing two jobs poorly, rather than two people doing one job each exceedingly well.  Everyone can be a generalist, but only at the cost of efficiency and quality.  Truly this is penny wise and pound foolish, since lower quality means fewer sales.  The adage “you get what you pay for” generally rings true, as it does in this case.

I may be one heck of a writer, but I’m all thumbs with a camera.  It doesn’t matter whether I use the film kind, or the digital kind, or my smart phone.  I will get a few decent shots, but I end up deleting close to 95% of the pictures I take.  I simply do not have the gift of photography. 

Photography, like writing, painting, dancing, and sculpting, is not just a learned task.  It’s an art form.  Anyone can take a snapshot, but a professional photographer sees what we, as non-photographers, don’t see.  They see that a certain angle is better or just the right light from just the right direction is needed to convey not only the moment in time, but the feeling, the beauty, the uniqueness that only someone highly skilled in that art form can capture.

In an effort to get with the program, I will make this offer to the powers that be at the Chicago Sun Times:  If you provide the operating room and surgical garb and all the appropriate saws and scalpels, I will be happy to try my hand as your brain surgeon.  I’ll even take pictures.  I’m sure I can do it, given the right equipment, but I can’t guarantee the quality of the result.  I will, however, write one hell of a story about the experience!