There are 7.2 billion people in the world, and 7 billion cell phone accounts. Cellphones now reach over 96% of the people, and over half of them are in the Asia-Pacific region. The penetration is 90% in developing countries.
40% of the world’s population is on the internet.
Every day over a billion photographs are uploaded to some place on the internet. That’s 12,000 photos every second.
Photography has changed from the few to the many; from advertising, or personal events, from news or art, into conversation: literally an adjunct to the spoken word. And like words, it is consumed and discarded.
We are in a transitional phase with photography: so many young people; so many people without training think no more of it than we do a passing preposition, that the new age of photography has yet to even be born. Right now, the few who are seeing its potential as art, are in the childhood stage, gushing about over-saturated hyper-sharp snapshots; valuing technique over vision.
Unfortunately, this also come at a nadir in the artistic world: post-modernism, which basically says that “everything is art” … and so nothing is.
Eventually the realization will return that art is about what it is to be human, and not what a soup-can looks like enlarged. As that inevitably occurs, the pool of potential photographic artists will be close 70% of the world’s population… and that is amazing and wonderful.
But it hasn’t happened yet, and it may not happen in my lifetime.
So what can we, as photographers, as photographic artists do -right now-? Keep the art alive. Teach why one photo is art, and another is just a snapshot. Explain the photographer’s unique challenge and vision.
We are, with this explosion of cellphone photography, in the winter of our craft. Spring will come. The wise prepare.
What can we do now?
Teach our art to those few cellphone photographers who see the potential; exhibit an eye; and are our future.