Marissa Mayer: Defining The Profession of Photography

The profession of photography took a huge hit on Monday. Well…let’s just say that highly acclaimed Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer clearly defined something I have been pondering for a long time.

If you look at the picture above, she said these words exactly during a press conference on Monday. Yahoo made a few announcements specifically the acquisition of Tumblr and the release of the new Flickr. Tumblr is a popular blogging platform and Flickr is a popular photo sharing social outlet.

Below is the response from a question posed by a Fast Company writer during Monday’s press conference:

There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers when there’s everything that’s professional photographers. Certainly there’s varying levels of skills but we didn’t want to have a Flickr Pro anymore. We wanted everyone to have professional quality photo space and sharing.” – Marissa Mayer, May 2013″

Here is the video to listen to the response in context with the question posed from Fast Company.

I get it…we live in a age of cameras everywhere. I just returned from my vacation in New York and I was surrounded by people all around me taking pictures with iPhones, Droids, professional digital SLRs, pro-sumer digital SLRs, and so on. We live in a time with the pervasiveness of capturing and sharing pictures.

I did not take my professional Canon camera to New York. I did not want to carry around a bulky camera while walking with my wife all over city. My iPhone 5 did a wonderful job capturing images then allowing me to immediately upload the images to Flickr.

Here is one of those images:

It looks great and I think I am going to have it printed and hung in my office. Is it perfect…no! Could I have done a better job with my DSLR…yes. We have access to these technological tools and a price that allows the masses to capture beautiful images. Am I a professional photographer or videographer, well…yes. But…no. I do not consider myself a photographer, videographer, or any term that connects me directly with technology. I consider myself a photojournalist.

I was a journalist at one time working for news outlets all over the country. The I feel word photographer defines a person based on the technology used to capture images. I want to move away from that stigma…I want to associate with the idea of craft…the craft of capturing and telling stories regardless of the technology used to achieve that goal.

As I was standing on the boat taking the picture above with my iPhone 5, there was a guy with a Canon 1Dx. As I was watching him capture his images, I could tell…he was an individual that had not spent a lot of time around a SLR or DSLR. He had over $7000.00 in his hand as he was running around madly holding the shutter down to capture the same image everyone else was capturing with their iPhones. He was holding the shutter and pointing…you could tell there was no clear thought process by the way he was framing the image. Because he has an expensive camera, does that make him professional? Does it make him a professional photographer? Does it make him a photojournalist?

Should we as professionals that use our cameras to perform our jobs and run our businesses take offense to Marissa’s statement? Maybe or maybe not…if you term yourself a professional photographer? If you just take pictures and feel your space is compromised by those who access to these same tools including iPhones…then maybe this will piss you off. But if your craft is to tell stories…you should like the fact the Flickr just extended your account storage to 1 Terabyte. Then, sit back and watch everyone else moan and grown.

If anything…her statement is a statement of the changing in times. The fact more people have access to professional gear and professional editing software brings more value to what I do. There are many that take pictures and capture video…then there are those that believe in a craft of telling stories.

By the way…there has been a lot of backlash online from her statement, here are a few tweets surrounding this conversation:

*Photo credit to SLR Lounge