The importance of photography in new media

Yesterday I read a tweet from @CeesFranke on Twitter in which he explained that he had a conversation about the imortance and impact of photography in the world of the new media. Although I am not a professional photographer I do love taking pictures. I have a few thoughts of my own on this subject that I would like to share.

New media is a very broad term. I think it would be good to define my scope of the definition “new media”. I would choose to go with Wiktionary’s definition: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/new_media. In my opinion the definition does not cover it all, but it’s close enough for my entry.

In old school times (without the internet), the media had time. They had and allowed themselves time to investigate a story or a report. After all, the evening news still had a few hours to go before air time and the newspaper was not due before the next morning. That time allowed reporters to get their reports together. The public stayed passive in this and ‘consumed’ the news.

With the introduction of new media this changed slowly; the public has changed from a passive mode to a very active mode. Everyone has become a reporter. Twitter makes it possible to create news the moment the event happens and it almost becomes a live report … from the public. Cell phones give the public the opportunity to even add pictures to their ‘reports’. Consequently traditional media is feeding on this and uses this way of reporting to fill their (online) newspaper. We used to have excellent pictures taken by professional photographers coming with the reports. In the world of new media pictures and/or videos having crappy quality often created by cell phones are acceptable. Then again those techniques also improve. Cell phones having 7MP or 8MP cameras on board are very common these days. If that is not enough then most people have a 10MP+ camera which is very affordable today. This all leads to a new media that more and more changes from quality reports to speedy reports generated by the public. The only question asked now is: “Did I publish this first??”.

So… professional photographers (and reporters) have become obsolete! In terms of news there’s not much to win for professional photographers. New media is more than just news, though. Companies would like to present themselves on new media. The professional photographer (and reporter!) could play a role in that. That also goes for cities, regions and even whole countries. The professional photographer could make this nice impression to do that trick. Whether a photographer takes pictures for a leaflet or a website, the job does not change dramatically. For professional photographers in the US, I advice to look at real estate photography. I am totally shocked over how real estate is promoted on the internet in the US. I believe there is a huge market left open in that field.

On a closing note some food for thought: how long will it take before a photo taken with a cell phone camera by a non-professional photographer will win the World Press Photo? I look forward to read your answer in the comments.