iPad as Portfolio: The Barracuda Complex
After just reading yet another story about a photographer utilizing the new iPad as their portfolio, and selling this off as something revolutionary, I felt the need to address this lunacy before it goes any further.
The iPad is not inherently evil, not by any stretch. The iPad is just a new, shiny toy that was developed for entertainment purposes, purposes that have now become a major part of our lives. Movies, games, online streaming You Tube videos of women in bikinis shooting assault rifles, etc, you know the really important shit that we can’t live without.
But like all things tech, this nonessential piece of equipment is the latest fad to sucker in hordes of snappers who think they are now going to take over the world.
Look, there is absolutely no reason to use the iPad as a portfolio, other than you just thinking it might be cool. Hey, that’s fine. But don’t think having your portfolio on an iPad will make you a better photographer. Don’t think it will make you a more viable photographer. Don’t think it will make you a more “high tech” photographer.
You want to be a better photographer, get more jobs? Then take the time, money and energy you are putting out converting your photo-life to the iPad and go shoot some personal work.
Geeks get the majority of air time in the modern photography world, mostly because the tech companies are footing the bills, paying for advertising, etc, so it is no surprise, at least to me, that the iPad has become the flavor of the month.
Again, it is an interesting device, but if you have an iPhone, and a laptop, then why exactly do you need to have your portfolio on this thing? In short, you don’t. You just want it.
Do you really think a person in a position of power is going to say, “Well, this work is okay, but wow, the fact this person is mailing me an iPad over a print book is so cool we should give them the job?” My opinion, anyone thinking this, or doing this, really isn’t in position of all that much power.
On the rare occasions I show to work to power players I typically have two options, laptop or print. I’ve yet to have a SINGLE person choose laptop over print.
I know, I know, I can hear the masses screaming at me in the background, “But Danno, people don’t have time for print books, and the computer is just so much faster.” Or, “Danno, Danno, the iPad is so much smaller than my print book, it will be far easier to view and ship.” What? Are you sending 30×40′s? Get over yourself and modern feeling of bigger is better. The best portfolio I’ve ever seen was 8×10 vertical. And guess what, the images were really frickin good.
Ever wonder why the industry is in such sad shape? Ever wonder why the quality bar has dropped so low? Ever wonder why the value of imagery has fallen to current levels? Faster. Overworked. Stressed. Yep, it’s all connected. Personally, I think if you are meeting with someone who can’t take the time to look at a real book of prints, images, and feels SO rushed they have to punch a button on a keyboard as opposed to flipped a page…why are you working with this person in the first place? Is this a comfortable work environment? Do you want that same frantic relationship come shoot time?
Again, in the past few years, on those rare occasions when I met with a gaggle of editors, etc, I’ve always found the most beneficial meetings have been with folks who are in control. They didn’t have their Blackberry in their hand. They weren’t sitting next to a ringing phone. And they surely were not concerned about me having my portfolio in electronic form. The meetings were set up SLOWLY, over time, by proving to them I could provide UNIQUE CONTENT, not a power sucking portfolio.
And while I’m on this soapbox, and my voice seems singular in a forest of millions, if you are under the impression that the iPad is the future of photography I think you are in for a long and harsh future. I keep hearing this, that online content is the future, and that photographers, by the thousand, are all going to be creating stills and motion and their own content, and then selling this to the masses. You have to be kidding me. Again, if I’m doing it, and your doing it, and every single one of our friends are doing it, then where is the value? How on Earth will there be enough money to go around to support even ten percent of the photographer population? Can someone please tell me? What I see is a world that continues the trend of work for hire, work for free and photographers giving away every single position of power they ever had.
Also, if someone can find a single human being under the age of 30 who will willingly pay for online ANYTHING I would love to meet them, and then sell them to a museum for future study.
If I’m not mistaken, the internet, globally, is associated with free. FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE. For crap sake, porn is free. If there is ONE thing in the WORLD I would guess people would pay top dollar for it is adult content, and now THAT is free.
So now I’m going to support myself on charging for my online imagery. Man, I really wish this was doable, but I just can’t see that working. Ask the New York Times how easy that is.
Recently, I’ve been informally surveying small groups of people in regards to their online habits, mostly workshop students and college photography students. So far, I have a grand total of ONE person who said they would be willing to pay for content. And every single person under 25 has just looked at me like my hair was on fire.
People when is the Coolaid going to wear off? I’m going to call this the “Barracuda Complex.” I’m not talking about the Heart song by the way. The barracuda is a fish that loves shiny objects, so when you are snorkeling you might want to take off that wrist watch. Photographers are like barracuda, we love that next piece of gear.
But folks, the ONLY thing that will save you as a photographer is your work, your imagery. And within that statement, the only thing that is going to really save you is making your PERSONAL WORK your COMMERCIAL WORK. If you can produce unique content, RETAIN THE COPYRIGHT, RETAIN THE RIGHTS TO THE WORK, AND THEN LICENSE THAT WORK AT A SUSTAINABLE and LEGITIMATE RATE, you MIGHT have a future in photography, a future that in my opinion will have little to do with an iPad.
My last thought on this mess. If you put your best image on a t-shirt, then attended Photo Plus in NYC, and then walked around that magaziny area of the city, you would probably be showing your work to a lot more people. Have fun, good luck.