The last few years have been interesting for professional photographers. The landscape has changed dramatically with the advent of the smartphone and it’s cameras. The technology keeps getting better, smaller, cheaper, and found nearly everywhere. This ease-of-acquiring has made it harder for photographers to make a living when most people out there can just “get a quick snap” on their phone. While true professionals aren’t going anywhere, the statistics and sales numbers are proving things are DEFINITELY changing. Have a look at the latest infographic from CIPA and Statistica;

The information above is tracking the crazy decline in camera sales after 2009 and how smartphones have blown up in the same timeframe. Like I mentioned above, The rapid advancements in the technology improving the quality of the cameras and reducing the cost, has taken photography from the elite few, and put it in the hands of pretty much every single person with a phone number. What one can take away from these statistics is that its most likely the sheer size (reduction) and portability of the smartphone that has made the sales of “bulky” professional DSLR and Mirrorless cameras decline.

The quality of what you can get on a phone vs the capabilities of a professional camera still lags significantly, but the difference is, most people don’t want to carry around all the various pieces of gear you’d need to get that “amazing” shot. Quality has been overruled by convenience for the everyday user.

As an event photographer who’s had to negotiate on nearly every step for work, i’ve seen first hand the shift from hiring pros, to “we’ll just get someone to get a shot from their phone” starting to overtake the industry. Again, there’s always going to be a place for a professional photographer with a proper kit, but it’s still scary and interesting to see what’s happening from a top level industry wide view. I’m very intrigued to see what happens in the next few years with the technology changing even more. Will the “professional” have to stick to their roots and find ways to truly differentiate themselves in a niche market to survive? Or, will the technology simply catch up capability wise and make it easier to get top quality images through a smartphone? Creating an entirely new industry of professionals to work with and around?

Photographer with Smartphone And DSLR
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It’s an interesting thought. Especially with companies like Light (before they shifted to software), and most recently, Apple, releasing its new iPhone with 3 cameras and the capability to record on both front and back views at the same time, effectively changing the game yet again for mobile users.

What do you think is going to happen over the next few years? Do you think larger DSLR and mirrorless cameras will still remain the dominant force in professional image work? Or do you think we’ll see a complete shift in market to smaller and more portable devices like the smartphone or even something more dramatic? Let us know in the comments below.

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