I have a mobile telephone. It's one of them smartphones, actually. It's got a 5Mpix camera, a 3.2" touch screen, only weighs 135 grams (4.76 ounces, for those using the wrong measuring scale :P) , is white (most of the time), has a full featured web-browser, Wi-Fi connectivity, has GPS navigation - the whole shebang. And that's the problem. Yes, I like my phone and use it extensively... but the experience is never satisfying. The camera often fails to impress me, even in optimal conditions. The screen kills my eyes when I try to usefully browse the net for anything more than 30 minutes because it's too small. The GPS simply sucks each and every drop of juice from the battery and the Wi-Fi often has poor coverage. It's an all-in-one and none-really-good. Worst of all - it can't match my old mobile phone from seven years ago when it comes to durability and battery life.
The phone will not substitute my camera, even when it comes to snapshots. I'm not throwing away my dedicated navigation system anytime soon (although it's a bit dated) and I still do most of my browsing quickly, efficiently and on my computer's large screen.
See, I think many of us photographers have fallen in the same trap. We try to jiggle with a dozen of things which other people call professions and
still want to be good photographers, while having absolutely no expertise in performing complex circus tricks. We want to be an all-in-one but if by any means possible - never experience the compromises an all-in-one brings along. It's a noble cause but it often doesn't work.
I've been reflecting a lot on the growth of some photographers and the stagnation of others lately. When I decide to spend some time reading photography blogs the same thing keeps coming up - How do the big(ger) guys do it?
Followed by I keep trying and keep failing.
Then I went ahead and thought more about how the big guys actually do it... Lo and behold - they don't. It's the big guys and
their teams who manage to make glorious shoots happen. Teams which often include a stylist, a bag of beefed-up I-carry-anything assistants, a post-processing specialist (the Photoshop dude), an accountant, perhaps even a secretary.
As sad as it is - one can only do so much. Even an all-in-one one. A lucky bunch of a few out there have succeeded to do more than us mortal humans can but that's most likely irrelevant to you and me. Back here in the real world, if we're to try and accomplish all these different tasks well enough to build up a decent photo shoot, then process the results and account to uncle Sam for the earnings it will probably mean we shouldn't sleep for months. And it still won't be as good as when specifically gifted people do their own little piece of the job.
In practice this all means that we need to re-group. Individually. Then go out and find some people to help us if we really want to grow past a certain point. It means that hiring a stylist for at least some of your bigger shoots isn't a waste of money. It also means that if you can get a trustworthy Photoshop guy you'll free up more time for shooting, resting, developing your creativity however it is that you do that. Is keywording an issue for you? Train your retired English-speaking family members into the art of keywording
(or, actually - use Dreamstime's keywording service) and rid yourself of it.
All-in-ones are popular nowadays. Fast food restaurants were popular too... once. :)
Optimize the amount of work you can do - down to only the work you can do really well. Find others to do the rest. It doesn't mean immediately hiring a team of 5 people to process your "rose from the back garden" image. As your workload grows slowly, grow your crew slowly. It doesn't have to start on professional level either. The main objective is that you save time and maintain good results.
So, what do you think?
Sent from my HTC Hero... nah, just kiddin'!