It’s no secret that the photography industry is struggling right now. People are taking more photos than ever, but not on actual cameras. That’s where the photography community can step in and change things by adopting this new year’s resolution: introduce a loved one to photography this year.
By “introduce,” I’m talking more than point-and-shoot, mindless smartphone photography. I’m talking about the joy of selecting an aperture value and watching what it does to the background. I’m talking about choosing a shutter speed and watching the waterfall freeze in motion or blur into a fine, glassy layer of liquid. It’s the kind of everyday magic that someone who is only accustomed to a smartphone for photography would marvel at.
Yes, to save the industry we all love, we must introduce it to those we love. That can include kids, parents, and significant others, for example. While my dad’s iPhone takes decent enough pictures, his Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camera that I suggested for him takes better ones. He may not take it out all the time, but it at least comes with him on vacations. My wife mostly uses her phone for pictures, but she’s not averse to using the Canon Rebel T6s that I keep loaded and ready to go on the table for the more important moments in life. My sister-in-law shot our Christmas portraits on a Nikon D750, and while she may not regularly use a DSLR, she can appreciate what they do over a phone.
The point is people won’t understand what a camera can do until they use one, and they won’t use one if they’re not introduced to one, and who better to do that than their favorite friend/parent/lover/photographer? Sure, with phones picking up most of the territory of good and great point-and-shoot cameras, the industry will never be what it once was, but if the people introduced to photography with this resolution each picked up a camera of their own, it couldn’t hurt.
Camera manufacturers have to do their part, too. Size and weight reductions are a must. No one wants to lug around a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II unless they’re working for a news organization (and even then, they don’t really want to, they need to). Connectivity is just as important. Even among my circle of professional photographer friends, no one uses manufacturers’ apps to download photos or control their cameras. That’s not to say the apps are no good, as most major manufacturers have this figured out by now, but there’s no awareness, and there are often still too many button presses, menu dives, and passwords just to get the whole phone interfacing process going. If it can’t get to Instagram damn near immediately, there’s a whole crowd that won’t even bother with the bigger camera and will just use their phones. Think Canon EOS Rebel SL3 or Olympus OM-D E-M10 III size with instant connectivity.
I personally have a life goal of a photographic drive along Route 66 with at least one of my kids in tow, taking photos with me. I have two kids and therefore two shots at this, so it’s time to put this new year’s resolution into practice with my five-year-old and my dust-collecting Rebel T2i. Wish me luck.