Dane Sanders

My Response to the Awesome Dane Sanders' "The Elephant in the Room"

While Dane Sanders   makes some Great Points, I feel the premise slightly flawed and near sighted. The post is a little TOO simplistic. I wish the post allowed for dialog, but I will post it here, and hopefully other Photographers may chime in and help me to better understand. 

There is very little that has changed in being an artist that is commissioned for their work. 1. Continually strive to provide great and consistent work. 2. Continuously improve communication skills. 

I go further...

 I disagree with the premise... especially when alluding that a photographer only uses ONE skillset, when a photographer is more than a button pusher. Today's modern photographer has to know physics, marketing, accounting, logistics, personnel management, statistics, economics, and many other skills, so to be reduced to only one, I feel is to already skew the conversation.

When it comes to  the boxing analogy... what has made boxing wane in popularity, similar to professional photography, is not JUST the competition of MMA (which needs at least another 20 years to prove legitimacy or fad), but the fact that the level of competition in boxing is almost null. When we had the greats, we had MANY fighters that could win the title. Even when Tyson reigned, there was always the next number one contender. Now, if its not the "Money Team," no one really cares. 

Think of the years where Shamrock, Gracie, and Silva RULED MMA/UFC. The lack of competition, threatened the very existence of the sport. Now MMA, has many contenders, which keeps things interesting. 


Photography is the same. In almost any community, you have a certain level of photographer. I am willing to wager that if you looked on a list of the top 25 photographers in the world from 5 years ago in the wedding industry, and looked at one today, that you would probably find 10 or more that are still on that list. Is that a bad thing? No, not in and of itself, but with so many possible "contenders" not having enough steam to climb the hills, then across the industry it DOES seem like a dying profession. Who ARE the next Leibovitz, Sanders, Jarvis, Grimes, Kelby, Heisler and McNally?

I remember growing up wanting to be like Tyson, Ali, Foreman, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, Jordan, Bird, Magic, etc... TODAY, we have Bryant, James, Durant, Duncan. Tomorrow, we'll have another crop. In MOST sports, what drives greatness IS competition. We are only as good as our competition.  If and WHEN boxing's competition rises to the levels of the 50's, 60's 80's and 90's once again, then MMA will begin to go the route of Olympic Wrestling. 


 Competition to the top is what keeps ANY industry moving, but photography, especially in the digital age has been in a race to the bottom. We are so focused on making the money, and impressing other photographers, instead of making better photos and impressing our clients and viewers. 

With photography today, there is A LOT of talent, but very little competition. 

I don't have all the answers, and I am a student in this ever changing industry, but if there is anything I do know, the great ones are always great at the fundamentals. You look at great basketball teams, whether Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Duke, Indiana, Michigan, Carolina and others... Fundamentals... DRIBBLE, PASS, SHOOT. No where in there is the dunk, alley-oop, sportcenter top 10 highlight.

So as an industry to focus on better execution of exposure, composition, and delivering a visual message, consistently, to our clients, WE MUST come back to the fundamentals. 


ps. The irony of the elephant with the chain around the ankle is the story of the mental conditioning of the beast over time. The elephant can break that chain in a snap, but the slightest resistance, holds it back. Much the same with many creatives. We are afraid of competition and resistance. But from resistance. we grow. 

pps. Thanks Dane for bringing up the discussion!