The Future of Photography
I am going to try and talk about what the future of outdoor photography looks like. Um, you know what? I was thinking about putting this together. I had the original idea of talking about it, and it's interesting because there's no real clear answer. I'm gonna share with you a little bit of what I think my future looks like. Maybe from there you can draw a little bit about what your future might look like. And I'm going Teoh, take my best pass at what things look like. But as outdoor photographer's, there are a lot of different things that I think are, um, are signs along the trail of what we can expect. And I think that it's really interesting because I think that these things are going to impact our business. We've talked about the business, talk about the creative, talked with technical, and in all of this you've learned all of these little pieces and all these little components. But at the end of the day, all of that stuff is going to become second nature. Eventually, the business ...
will run itself to some degree. Of course, you always be busy doing it, but it will be running on a rhythm. Your creativity will come from a well of inspiration that you've established through your passion. You're your direction, your brand, your philosophy will be defined, your skills will be homed. And at the end of the day, you will sit and think about the same things I'm thinking about very often, which is where are we going from here? And I think there's an interesting thing in this, and I was a reason why I chose. This is the first picture for the future of photography. Before I actually explain that, I don't think it's all going to be bad. Um, I think that there's a tendency in the world of photography for things to go bad or be perceived as bad or declining or changing. I've been hearing that for two generations. I've been hearing that, and here we still are doing what we dio making money from what we love with this entire presentation is all about conjecture, speculation and a whole lot of guessing. Um, and that's really though as much as it sounds kind of like I should have a crystal ball here. No one wanted leave my laptop, but kind of thinking about what the future may hold. That's all any of us really can do. And we should. We should take guesses. Best guesses, educated guesses. We should try and see what the writing is on the wall. Follow trends and see if we can figure out if it's all gonna be good news. We jumped for joy. Zoos in Yellowstone on a fun trip. Forget where Hayden As a Hayden, I think so. And have a great time. Can we still keep doing what it is we're doing? So I want to talk a little bit and keep this generally very open. And I love to hear your thoughts, and your feedback is we go through this process and talk about what the future may hold. One thing I know for certain is that the industry is going to continue to evolve. Absolutely. What we do and what we see today is not what will be in the future. Nothing has ever stayed the same. I don't know that prices they're necessarily gonna decline. I don't think anyone could predict that. I think prices in many ways are very well going into the middle or maybe leveling off or plateau ing at a certain point, and I have a lot of thoughts on that. But I think the technology is going to continue to really drive this and technology, I think, is going to become a pivotal part, not just in how our cameras act. Um, I think that it's very reasonable from all the things that I'm seeing, that the buying experience could become fully automated at some point. And there's a lot of talk about automation in the future of how that will affect lots of different industries. I think that there is a safety net for photography and that I think that safety net is in our creativity. I think that no robot ultimately will ever be able to do what we here in this room and online and around the world are able to do here with a camera. I think that wandering outside, I will, I will eat my words the day I go to a beautiful location and I see some robot walking around with a camera trying to come up with a creative cough composition. So I think unlike a lot of other industries, we have some security in that That's the first thing we can probably start to handle on. But there will probably be more people. There already are more people than ever before taking images, and we have to go where we fit into that. Do we fit into that? Our expectations, reasonable as that changes. I mean, in the seven years that tandem has been around, we have seen huge changes. A number of agencies that have popped up niche agencies and large agencies, agencies that were big are now gigantic and dictate a lot of the market, and even they are trying to figure things out. And so I think that this industry really will continue to evolve. I think, um, pricing will be one of the biggest areas that we see. Changes come in. Um, I do think that pricing will continue to, uh, shape itself into the almost simplest area. I'll talk a little bit more about that some my other slides, but I think that that's gonna be certainly a big area will continue to evolve. Technology will definitely play a role in our image making process, and I think that as outdoor photographer's, this third point is probably one of the biggest issues that will impact us for the near future, if not the very foreseeable and long distant future, which is environmental issues. And, you know, I've talked a lot about creating inspiring imagery. I've talked a lot about how to build a business, take a great shot and make a motion clip, and I've hinted at endangered species that are part of my stories. I've hinted at islands and atolls of the Pacific that are threatened, and we have this cycle that we go through. Um, you know, whether that's, uh, you know, our social cycles or whether it's a cycle of awareness and what we want to do. I mean, we could see our success the way we handle those own and how that changed things. I could see L. A. Over the years, 20 years I've lived in the city, and when I got there, I could barely see the other end of the city, if anything at all. Now I can see all the way to the water from the hills that you go hiking on like Runyon Canyon. Um, so a lot of changes that from good can happen. But I also think we're going to be facing a lot of challenges. And in that I think one of the greatest conundrums of the outdoor photographer exists, which is that theoretically, our business couldn't prove you're going to have more images of places, especially from now that could be coastlines as they change Ariel on drone photography. As coastlines change, I think there's a huge amount of, um, low lying islands and areas in the Pacific Ocean that may not exist are images is environmental Photographers could very well become historical record, and I think is you shoot as you make compositions that you probably should be thinking about those things. And in the future, you may also start to think about how those issues and how those challenges are going to play a role in your business. Um, one thing that was interesting for us is a business, and I never sits well with me, and I'm not really sure where I where I stand on it in a way because it's tough. But every time we go through a really challenging environmental period, let's say what's called political period. Right and new laws are being written or in animals, delisted or whatever. There's a greater need in the marketplace for images of those things. And so our business goes up. And so there's an interesting This is such an interesting paradox, and you have to kind of ask yourself where you stand. But you don't really know what your solution is in that in the idea of, Well, I'm out and I'm working hard. I have to pay my bills and I want to make more money. And it's already pretty hard to make a living as a photographer, if not almost impossible for many outdoor photographer's. I've seen a lot of pros go to find other careers late in their own careers, which is very disappointing to see. But you know, when you see something change or you see a place collapse and you have the images of it prior to that collapse, does it feel good to make a lot of money off of it? Um, you know, where do you stand on those of the philosophies and ideas? I think of the future of our business that we start kicking around? Um, I think that there's a really interesting approach to that. I'm gonna talk a little bit more about that in some of my other cards, but I don't want to move on a little bit. The great spots. One of my favorite spots that I like to go toe is Jocko Canyon. That's the hot abuse. And, ah, you know, somehow I feel like that's some part of my future somewhere. Technology's Role in Photography Aside from how we take photos and videos and how we bring them to the market, people will always have the creativity. We're a long way from the robots taking over. I do think so, though I still love that image, don't you? Image prices, I think, will become standardized across the industry. I could see it being one rate for all images for all use for everything. I would not be surprised. This is conjecture. This is speculation, and I do not have a crystal ball. But I would not be surprised if somewhere down the road every image cost 50 bucks or some flat rate. Maybe it's five bucks babies, 250 bucks. I don't think of me. That would be nice, but I wouldn't be surprised. You see a homogeneous ization already happening and you see them. I mean if we're already down to three price points and all of them more than a couple of dollars of each other for the most part in our F, which is really going to continue to rule the roost and I think they'll be always room for RM. You're not gonna have a whole lot of room to undercut. Not everybody's gonna want to go higher. And so I think, market trend wise, I could see eventually being pretty much one place or one price at all places, all agencies, all photographers, all your competition. And then you will find new ways to set yourself apart. I don't know that it's necessarily a bad thing. I think it changes the competitive landscape. I think it already is changing the competitive landscape because the prices already are so much the same. They don't actually be one price. You could have three prices and already close to the same, a little cheaper someplace, but other than another, but they're relatively close to the same, so I think that that's an interesting point. I think visibility for emerging brands is mostly going to move away from advertising and become embedded in community driven and story driven content. This is something I've been seeing the writing on the wall for for a while. Um, I'm gonna explain what this means, and I say it one more time because I think it's really important. Understand this because I think this is something that the future really does hinge on visibility for brands is not going to just be paper ads in your magazines that you hold. I don't think that they're I think they're gonna move away from traditional advertising. They already are. Look, what's happened with television and streaming and online took forever for that change to happen. But it happened quickly when it did, and it still continuing to happen. I think seeing a photo. We've seen this quite a bit. If you're a photographer with a very large social audience, this is where social media and your business plan start to change and where evolution of our business is gonna change. If you have a very large audience, it's gonna be worth hiring that photographer to photograph that backpack if their images reach that audience and they're paying you for your audience, not just for the image. In fact, they may not need the image at all for advertising. They may not need that usage. Maybe there's simply paying for your soul audience. Maybe they're embedded ing embedding that in because you can get that image published. You know, one of the models I looked at early on was, Why not charge a brand Teoh outfit? All the people in our photos and then the magazine goes and buys the photos and those air full page ads, and everybody's wearing the gear that's already been paid for us while you're double dipping. Variation on that will probably happen over time. So I think what's gonna happen? It is Advertising, in its traditional sense, probably start to diminish a considerable amount as digital completely takes over every aspect. And it will take years, I think. But I think it will happen and everything is going to community driven. How big is your audience? How far can you reach? How much engagement can you drive? How much do people interact with you? What is the quality of that interaction? What is the quality of that engagement? I heard a talk. I can't back out. I wish I could remember who it was, but there was a long. There was a number of years ago when somebody sort of doing a similar sort of talk about the future of these industries and businesses. They were talking about everybody. One day we'll have just a point score, not a credit score, a point score. And the more you watch ads and the more you buy things as a consumer, the higher your score will be and the cheaper things will be for you. I think that photographers will probably have a similar sort of criteria they already do. The people with the huge followings are getting some of the best gigs, even if they're not great photographers. But that's not always the case, Um, and that's not always the best thing. Is that the best thing for story? That the best thing for the product? Um, so I think it's gonna be interesting, but I do think that emerging brands, especially are really going to need this. I'm not gonna have the dollars for expensive advertising or it's not gonna be absolutely AdWords and Social posts. I mean, think about the advertising you see already. Now when you log on, you know, in your online and you're looking at your news feed and your stories and all your friends and what they're doing, and then they get the sponsored ad. It's Ah, it's on an ad. In the traditional sense, it's a question of call to action. It's something about your lifestyle. It's all about all these other things that are integrated in other parts of your life, and those are usually photos or motion driven. So I think that these kinds of things were going to be very impactful. I think they're gonna have a very long tail, and I think it's gonna be a lot of evolution to all of that. I do think it's not all, um, all negative or bad news or challenging or interesting. I think that's gonna make our lives easier. Auto tagging has started. Ah, quite interesting level. It's still, in my opinion, little far away from being practical. I see some companies employing it works on a base level, upload an image. What's the worst part of stock photography tagging your photos? Oh God. And captions, of course, to might still need the captions, of course, but auto tagging you think about. You got a GPS location and the more Our world is fully documented and tag and catalog easier. It's gonna be to say OK, you're at 45 degrees, 112 degrees. You got your latitude, longitude. We know right where you are. We know what region that is. County, City, park, location, season, time of year, date time. All that stuff's gonna be there. We can add all of those words and then deep learning kicks in and says, I see your tree. I see a particular kind of tree. It already works. You can already identify all the different kinds of architecture. Is it? Victorian? Is the neoclassical Palladian they confined out, taken out of tag. It's when you do a search, you don't even need to type those things. And it'll already find those results for you that will only continue to get better. I think that's great. I think it saves us a lot of work. Uh, and I think it will really make finding what help buyers find what they need a lot easier. I think that there are going to be very complex and integrated marketing channels for imagery. Um, it's really, really just that. I mean, I think that it's the technology itself. I think that how you get your stuff out there is going to have an entire chain for it. I think that an image can go to, uh, you know, LCD and led panels and subways and stations, and they're gonna have a life. And the more impressions and views, maybe the potentially the more money you might make from it. I think there's a lot of different ways in which integrated technology is going to play a role in that. I've talked to some big tech companies about that where we can feed in our beautiful landscape imagery into people who are trapped down in subway systems on their commute to work every morning and it constantly refreshes, And every time it refreshes and pulls from our archive, it generates a few pennies of royalties. The photographer and it gets passed their phones and also do the same thing in different places based on where they are in the images that are there and no one's doing a thing. It's all automated based on location, phone and information that's available there, so I think that these kinds of tools are going to be very interesting to see them come to fruition. I think the camera technology will basically never let you screw up the shot. I think that that's probably around the corner any day. I think you'll never need to focus and you'll never worry about your F stop in aperture. So I think that's that's any day. But I think it's coming down the road already with HDR in raw files and processing, there's obviously been a lot of different attempts and tries at how focus could be there and capture the whole range of depth and field and shift, and so on eventually will mainstream itself enough to the point where you've just got to simply do the composition and pick what you want in the frame and then figure everything else out afterwards. I imagine that that will be some version of that and again I have no crystal ball. But I'm going to guess that I'm not off the mark, all that much on a lot of these things and I think a lot of this. The reason it isn't that is cause of product obsolescence. I think that there simply getting every step of the way closer so that companies can benefit from the growth and revenue opportunities that come with that. And, yes, I think it'll fit in your pocket when it finally does do that, probably your shirt pocket. It's not a big pocket, but that's up school with me, and I think it's interesting, and I think it opens up a lot of opportunities. But I think that we're so we still think in a way of print and tangible goods and books and things. And I think that the more of this stuff complicated integrated marketing channels in the digital space exists that more important, the physical will be. And I'm curious to see how that plays out. But ultimately, if you society that decides how that will work, this is brand partnerships. You know, I used the backpack is an example. This partly another thing that I want to talk about Here. Brand partnerships are critical to a photographer and will rely on more than just images, but definitely motion and most likely, the size of your audience, the quality of engagement, many other facets of your personal life. Um, are you willing to go this far is really the question and all of that. Are you willing to let every aspect of your life be part of your brand? Are you wanting to be part of your business? We already see that in celebrity driven media. Every aspect of their business is really revolves around their character in the social. I don't even know what you call it their world, right? I think that for photographers, there'll be a version of this. I think that there already is in some degree with social media because we're seeing more than just people's images. Before, you never really knew anything about a photographer other than their name and what they shot and what they released to the public. The stories that they wrote were the behind the scene shots that they did. Now you can log on, you can become their friend. You can see where they went to school, who their friends are, what their political views are etcetera and all of this. I think we play into that, and it will influence how your brand partnerships are handled and who becomes your partner. Is this the kind of company that you want to be a part of? And as I mentioned, I think you know the integration and the quality of engagement stuff will play a role in that. Now, does this mean you should go out and try and build the biggest following possible on social media? You know, I don't know. I don't know that That's for everybody. I do think there's going to be a segment of our industry that will be this. I don't know that it's going to all be this, but it already is partly this, and it's already getting this way. For a lot of big photographers who have millions of followers or hundreds of thousands of followers, this is already there. Reality. So the question will become how broad and how big will that really go? That's a hard one to answer. Um, this is a picture from Central California that I took, and, uh, I just put it in there to break up the mood. Really? Will we ever hit a point of maximum saturation where it's all been done before? This is an interesting one to these air, The thoughts, these are the things to keep me up at night. Ah, that in the neighbors. Um, will we ever get appointed maximum saturation where it's all been done before. You know, it's interesting when you have, ah, car driving around footing, photographing every square inch of every street in high resolution, and you can pull that up and look at it well, at some point. Could the same happen for outdoor photographers? You know, could every lake be photographed in every style in every way, every resolution at some point to the point where there is a difficulty and competitiveness on that? And then what takes that further? I think that's where Motion is huge. And I think Motion will add decades to a person's career at least a decade to people's career or more. I think that the price of entry for motion will go down as the bar of entry goes down on the bar. Venture really is money as that goes down than that saturation of that will, uh, will go up and they'll be less opportunities at lower prices. Um, I don't know. I think it's something about I really don't know hasn't happened. I don't think for true pros who are really active and shooting, I think they can keep up on it. Um, but I don't think so. I think that there I I think there will be a lot of opportunities and ah, but I do think it's something to think about. So as you think about those things, I think we have to think about how we push past, and I think that to me there's a huge light at the end of the tunnel, which is that I've heard it all before. I've heard the worst of her the negative stuff all many, many times, and I think that everyone out here has the ability to shape the future of our industry. I think that everyone watching, wherever you are in the world, when you walk out your door with a camera and what you do with those images and how you do it changes the future of our industry. You know, we're probably the largest group image makers and filmmakers will filmmakers or somewhat gilded right these days. Unionized photographers in general are mostly independent entities, acting almost as a whole in many ways, and I think that rather than being so protective of the individual, we should think about how we represent the whole, and I think that we have the power to shape the future of our industry in a very positive way. Andi, I think that there is a lot of hope and I think that if we can start a company in one of the worst environments ever, economically, that has evolved and grown than anybody truly can do that. Um, you know, and I'm really proud of what we've been able to do and how we've represented the industry. But shaping things means sometimes going further than you ever expected to go. And maybe it means starting a company having impact across multiple channels. And so a big part of why I do what I dio and why I am so driven to do so many different things, as you've learned over the course of all of these classes in this boot camp. It's been a long, long journey. But, you know, I've been driven to do so. I've hit three different areas very, very, very hard over the last seven years, and I will continue to push there, and I'm very proud of it. These are my three brands stand of stock or stock in motion clip licensing company. I've got my own software that manages many, many, many large, mid to large enterprise companies. I guarantee you've interacted with at least one or two of them today and our film, our original content division. And you know, for me each of these gives me a different way to interact. If I can do it from nothing, literally from nothing. You know, I rolled in L A 20 years ago. I got there a pick up truck in a sleeping bag and that was it. $500 in debt, then anything is absolutely possible. You just have to push yourself to it. Everyone has the capability of it. And for me, all of those things, whether it's the tech or the film or the photography or really driven by something even more than business driven more than my success is driven by the passion and the enjoyment of these telling these stories is is, uh is an honor to go to these places. You think about it. You know, very few people have ever step foot on that island. Very powerful. No footprints, crab prints. These are probably my footprints, actually. But you think about this and you think about what you're impact really can be with your work. You know, I've invested in these films, you know, These are these are projects for somebody's writing me a check, and I'm getting a free ride. I'm investing in. I'm investing in my time because this is the passion. This is the impact I wanna have. This is the career I want to impact, right, This pillar of coral in the ocean where so few people have swam. You know, they sit almost pristine and untouched. Perfect. You've seen this image plenty of times over the course of this course. This is an aerial view of Palmera, A toll in the remote Pacific Ocean. 52 islands that have been modified by man into in different ways over the years. Some not at all being reclaimed by the ocean. This is view you didn't see. This is high tide of the same location. Place that changes is mesmerizing. One of the last true places of the Pacific Ocean that is untouched and has so much potential to represent a baseline to see the quarrels of this color in this vibrance. To me, it is a gift. And it's the gift that this career has given me to be able to go out there and see these creatures and see these things. I like this guy. I felt like if you're gonna end on a good town, this is the way you know here, right? So I don't know what the future holds, but ultimately, I think everyone's gotta figure out their own future. I think that you have to figure out why you do it. What outdoor photography means to you, Really, at the end of the day, and you have to pursue your passion and you should try and make it the strongest thing you could possibly make it, and hopefully we work together on that.