An Editorial Opinion About The State of the Photography Business
Hollywood, CA – January 29, 2015: by Lee Roth
It seems lately that I have unwittingly become embroiled in a conversation about image quality and basic standards I adhere to when I produce a project. It has turned into a larger discussion now about the photo industry as a whole, and how there seems to be an industry-wide trend where, “Okay is good enough.”
Over the past two years, I have observed this alarming trend as Mediocrity’s infection spreads from photographers to editors, producers, art directors and yes, even photo buyers.
When asked to produce a looping slideshow of still images using submissions from the public for an event, I merely suggested that photos that are not properly exposed or are out of focus will be rejected. It’s a fairly basic standard that any contributor to any photo agency will encounter whether it be; Getty Images, Corbis, the Associated Press, Reuters, Alamy, ShutterStock, SuperStock, iStockPhoto or any other agency in the world you can name!
To provide background, the slideshow is to be a “background” presentation during a social event at a business catering to the creative community. Submissions of 5 to 10 images on a theme are requested with a one week advance deadline. Introductory slides with photographer credits and contact information will precede each contributor’s images in the slideshow.
The anticipated audience is a broad swath of the photography community encompassing students, aspiring artists and seasoned professionals. My reaction to resistance about basic standards is that I do not want to be involved in a production which presents a distorted view of what is acceptable.
The professional photography industry is dealing with an absolute flood of mediocre photos that people think because they look good on a cell phone that those same photos will hold up in the commercial world. Mediocre photos may work for web display or spot placement in a publication, but not as a full page image, a commercial product for mass market, or large wall display beyond 6”x9”. Mediocre content will also not permit an aspiring photographer to make a living in today’s market.
I’ve built a reputation of editorial excellence over twenty years. Am I wrong to decline a project where my editorial integrity becomes compromised? I simply refuse to perpetuate a concept that Mediocrity is good enough.
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