In the 21st century, photography has evolved to a level that could never have been thought possible. When László Moholy-Nagy said the words, “The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen” in 1920, who would have imagined their realization a century later?

If you think that it is a rapid transformation, you should remember that when the first online casinos launched in the 90s, no one thought that they would be a staple in less than three decades. Right now, particularly after the Coronavirus pandemic, new slots online are all the rage as restrictions for land-based in-person gaming have been introduced to reduce the rate of infection.

Such heavy transformation of the industry should not scare you, but prepare you to adapt, as the world continues to evolve. So, if you are interested in photography in this modern society, you must be flexible and embrace a different way of doing things so that you can stand out. 

The Smartphone Camera Challenge

Since the first commercially available camera phone, the Sharp J-SH04 in 2000 which had a camera resolution of only 0.11MP, smartphone manufacturers have been engaging in some kind of a ‘battle of the cameras’ with more lenses, more megapixels, better software, more storage and even zooming power, pushing the bounds and bringing photography to the masses. Today’s smartphones have resolutions that exceed 100MP.

In 2020, about 1.43 trillion photos were taken compared to about 1.42 trillion the previous year, meaning that the number will keep rising as earth’s intelligent inhabitants get more access to quality devices. Mind you, the average phone user has an estimated 630 photos on their phones.

Stand Out If You Want to Grow Your Pro Photography Career

Smartphone cameras aside, when you consider the multiple photo editing tools available online, this does not sound very promising for the professional photographers out there. So, how does a professional photographer stand out from this society where everyone has a lens that is most likely always connected to the Internet?

It is important to keep in mind that professional photography is not about how to use a camera, it is a composition, authorship and an art form unique from one photographer to another. It is for this precise reason that professional photography is not going away any time soon. The smartphone photos may be high resolution, but they can’t beat professional cameras and equipment which allow for larger file sizes and more pixels per square inch, meaning they can produce better prints and are better for editing.

Professional Camera Manufacturers Are Staying Sharp

Fortunately for professional photographers, camera manufacturers have woken up and sensed the smartphone threats. They have started matching up and producing compact cameras which are not as bulky as DSLRs. Some of the latest cameras also don’t have interchangeable lenses, meaning you won’t be carrying around a kit.

Samsung and Nikon have been able to launch some Android-enabled DSLRs allowing all the same online functionality as a smartphone but with a proper lens and sensor. Technologies like those found in Eye-Fi memory cards have given photojournalists an easier time to transmit live streams from their DSLRs on the ground to newsroom servers. 

Professional Photography Isn’t Dying Anytime Soon  

From digital advertising to social media marketing, most consumers of professional photography have started to realize that professionally taken pictures have more power and can influence more calls to action than those taken from smartphones. 

If we could quantify influence, this right here provides a moment of truth. To push sales further, some photographers, in creating their portfolios, do include side-by-side comparisons of DSLRs and phones to make it easier for the client to understand what is at stake. The larger sensors that are easier for the photographer to control on DSLR cameras will always beat the smartphones, and at a professional shoot, the results are incomparable.

As Moholy-Nagy predicted, everyone now knows how to photograph, well, most people, excluding folks in very remote areas without smartphones. The difference with professionals is knowing what to photograph and where to place the camera. After deciding what to photograph, the professional will first perceive with their eyes before looking in the lens to confirm their already forged mental image. This is not the case with the rest of the photo takers in the digital age who let the camera or software decide how to position their tool of choice.

Final Thoughts

So, what lies ahead for a professional photographer in the digital age? Well, it’s up to the individual professionals to forge their own identity and just like digital content creation dream up and contextualize their very own content well before picking up that lens.