There's a new change happening in the photography world and you may not even be aware of it. Let's see how it'll pan out and learn how it might affect you.
The digital revolution handed photography to the masses on a large scale, with the introduction of digital cameras and camera phones gradually lining the bags and pockets of everyone around the world. Almost everyone we know now owns a camera of some sort. Taking digital photos has become the new normal and in the past two decades alone we're now consuming more imagery and media than ever before. And there's a new change happening right now and it's leading to an inevitable upheaval of everything we've become acquainted with in the past 20 years. So, are you ready?
A Change in Technology
After DSLRs, smartphones were the next step in photography, not through superior optical quality and improved imaging technology — quite the opposite in fact — but through the ability to add filters, edit, crop, and share photos with friends and the rest of the world. It's this integration of photography in our everyday lives that has boosted the popularity of photography.
Until the last few years enthusiasts and professionals have been working on digital SLRs with interchangeable lenses, high-end optics, and increasingly intelligent technology that can stabilize and enhance the photo-taking process. However, like film, the images still required developing through use of an image editing technology and often required computers that were either home-based (desktops) or cumbersome enough to hold back the public from editing quickly and sharing the work with others.
Combining New and Old
Now though, mirrorless cameras have bridged the gap between the smartphone and DSLR market. With features like portrait lighting, retouching, and rating photos right from the camera it's just a matter of time before camera manufacturers take the next logical step: full in-camera editing and sharing.
We already have the ability to share images from our devices through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and this does feature on DSLRs as well, albeit in a very clunky fashion. But what I'm describing here is the symbiosis between editing platforms and camera manufacturers to create a workflow system so smooth that you'll likely be able to edit as you shoot. Seamless workflow methods are already becoming commonplace as photographers and filmmakers turn to hybrid shooting. Cameras are now able to float between stills and moving image that blur the lines between photography and cinematography. It's just a matter of time before this happens in another direction: inside the camera.
A Glimpse Into the Future
If you think about it we can already change the picture controls in Live View (and Mirrorless EVFs) in real-time, noting the difference in color and tone between "standard", "landscape", and "vivid" so what's to stop companies from introducing plug-ins and other editing functions to the camera. Presets, graduated neutral density filters that can drop in without you needing to pack physical filters, and much more.
We already have editing controllers for Lightroom, Photoshop and other editing software that are bespoke for photography workflows, so why couldn't such a device be made for a camera. It would negate the need for a larger form factor, would plug in via USB-C (or the connection of the future) or it may even connect wirelessly. Now we'd be able to add exposure changes, color adjustments, even local brush adjustments and clone tool settings to a photo while we take the shot, in real-time.
It also wouldn't make sense in this new, fast-flowing workflow to slow things down by exporting with specific settings to a local hard drive — you'd just hit the share button within the camera and send it to your friends and family via Whatsapp or share it with others on Instagram. The camera would be connected to the cloud and be able to access a multitude of different publishing platforms much like a small computer.
In this new world the camera wouldn't be replaced by the smartphone, it would be the powerful, hyper-beefed up digital device that links with the smartphone cyber world, the thing you turn to when you want to take a "proper" photograph, but still have connected to the rest of your digital world. You could recall images and use artificial intelligence to search through all the photos you've taken, all without the need for a laptop or desktop computer.
Who Will it Benefit?
Assuming this change will be good (or bad) for everyone is to ignore the vast array of different types of photographers. There's the Sunday cafe group who like to snap their cream teas and desserts to share with friends and family, the parent of a young child learning photography to capture their formative years, those that have had entire lives filled with photography as a hobby, and the professional who is keeping up with the cutting edge of technology.
This workflow smoothing will benefit almost everybody who wants to shoot and share pictures, but it's the process of learning that new technology that might strike difficult for some. There are plenty that still don't understand how to edit images on computers, or how to take photos on smartphones, but the majority of people now understand enough to at least get by, if not reap the huge rewards that digital technology lends us in terms of photography. It's just a matter of time until photography reaches its next phase, will you be on board when it's time to leave the station?