A mad storm...that's how I'll remember 2016.
Politically, socially...the world is absolutely upside down. We can only hope that it all evens out at the end of the day. At the outside...it will be 2018 at the earliest before anyone can say which way things go from here, up or further down. I haven't watched the news in months.
It kind of seems the same for my audience, the world of photography. Years ago our line of work was thrown into disarray by the global economic meltdown and while the world is getting used to the new normal, we seem to remain in an uneasy holding pattern. It's been so long since the good old days that every chat with photo professionals begins with "remember when"...considered by some to be the lowest form of conversation. Now it seems everyone who owns a camera considers themselves to be a photographer. We "professionals" as a whole aren't doing a great job of differentiating what that means to our clients either...years of study, an ongoing commitment to education into new equipment and techniques and lot's of practice to create artwork.
At the end of 2015 I made myself a promise to take a less gear-centric approach to photo life. In fact the only equipment I've purchased this year were items that wore out, broke or underwent a significant upgrade. I might have spent a grand total of $1500 in "new" money without checking receipts. I trimmed down my gear bag to the essentials and rented equipment on an 'as needed" basis. So...I did that as a result of reading the tea leaves so to speak. I figured that 2016 would be a transition year all across the board. I kept my nose to the grindstone with my regular work, portraits, weddings and retouching.
I managed to pick up quite a few video projects along the way. It's definitely been a challenge and the "new normal" certainly keeps me on my toes. Also not a heck of a lot was going to change in the camera industry. While I concede there has been improvements most of that appears to be incremental advancement, there has been no "game changer". Actually, just about anything in the camera world you can buy is pretty good now. We have finally hit that hard bump against the line of Diminishing returns.
Hopping off the gear and photo-social rollercoaster left me with more incentive to really make the most of the equipment I have, no technology crutch needed. What's most surprising is how I spent my "practice, practice and more practice time". I did very little work with models, fashion or beauty...something I'll probably pick up again in the new year.
I filled that space with capturing moments for lack of a better term.
I also worked quite a bit on my first book which I'd hoped would be finished by now. It almost was a few times but in each case I really didn't like the final result. There are thousands of photography related books in circulation and I want mine to stand out. Not for what it is...but for what it isn't, as in "not for photographers". As with the camera industry, it's not we professionals that drive sales year after year. It's the regular consumers who are passionate about capturing images they can be proud of. They are the ones who buy new camera frequently enough in hopes of finding that magic formula to making their own moments photo worthy.
They don't want to be full time photographers or videographers..it's a tough business and in most cases requires a pay cut. Photography is simply their "in-between", that section of time that isn't work, commuting or sleep.
So...again, I'm back to square one starting over with this book and it was my approach to 2016 that helped me sort that out...I have many thousands of images from work and travel but only very few "moments" which is really the point of the book. Clearly I have a lot of work to do in 2017 to build a bridge across that gap.
Here is how I sum up 2016 in the photo world... It was the year of the "Me Too" cameras.
Now I'm not going to pick on any one camera company in particular since most if not all of them deserve equal praise and scorn. The list goes something like this....
1) 4K video recording...most people still view on a HD screen (1080p)
2) Dual Memory Card Slots..meh. Haven't lost images due to a faulty card in almost a decade.
3) Flip-Out LCD Screens...good but where are the touch screens?
4) More Mirrorless cameras in Full Frame, Crop and Medium Format...ok that's something I guess
5) Image Stabilisation, Gimbals, Steadicams etc...Your mileage may vary but nothing new here.
Rather than drudging on and on consider this:
The camera that accounted for the most images uploaded to social media isn't a camera at all. It's a SmartPhone (iPhone) that also features a camera. It has a touch screen, ability to store RAW and JPEG files (some models) and backs them up to a cloud service, records video with image stabilisation (some models with 4K) and no need for a flip-out screen since they have both front and rear facing cameras for the "selfie" folks. By the way, SmartPhones can edit and share images in less time than it takes to copy those two-slot memory cards to a computer for editing and sharing.
See where I'm going with this?
The SmartPhone industry is really running circles around the camera companies who cater to the average consumer...that's where the game is really changing.
My hope for 2017 is that camera companies start collaborating with SmartPhone companies to produce better products for consumers, professional and average alike. As for the rest of the world and events...I've got absolutely nothing. I plan on enjoying my moments outside as much as I can, away from live TV, especially the news.
Happy Holidays :-)