How did painters react when Count Sergei Lvovich Levitsky won the first ever gold medal awarded for a photograph at the Paris Expo in 1849? It might have looked like this:
October 7, 1849
This sucks! I spent months finishing my landscape for the Expo. I worked so hard my fingers bled. The Count? How come he gets the gold? He puts his camera on a tripod and presses a button. Then, some dude in a white jacket slogs over in the mud to a wagon twelve feet away, mixes chemicals and makes a contact print. He was done in a couple of minutes. This isn’t fair, it hurts our business. It’s just too damn easy to take a photograph.
Levitsky was also known for his use of decorative backgrounds in photography and posing his subjects in different poses and changes of clothes instead of the standard of the day: taking one picture. He was already retouching his negatives to enhance features and remove blemishes. He also proposed the concept of using artificial electric light in studio photography long before it was practical.
Now, how about guys like Levitsky? What might he have said when George Eastman created the Kodak camera already loaded with film and later, the Brownie camera, prepackaged film and ready-to-mix chemistry, taking photography to the masses. Here’s my take:
June 10, 1885
Wow, this is remarkable! I just got my Kodak and shot 40 rolls of the Russian Imperial Family in my St. Petersburg Studio. And, since I got the electric lines in last week, I closed the skylight and used my Edison light bulbs for the first time. It looks like the electric light bulb is finally worth bringing into the studio. Awesome! Every frame had consistent lighting and I really got time to talk with the Prince for a change instead of dealing with the cloudy weather. My painter friends just got Kodaks, too. Check out everyone’s results on the Flickr, St. Petersburg shooters page. Great stuff!
BTW, I just let go of my chemist and printer. Sorry to Kostya and Pavel. Things change. You can pick up your checks on Monday.
Okay, so maybe it hurt Kostya and Pavel to find out they were fired on the Count’s blog. But, overall, what’s the point?
Flickr and Photoshop CS5 aren’t hurting the photo business – it changes the business. That’s all. And changes like this have been happening since 1849.
So, what’s the big deal with Flickr, or the new version of Photoshop CS5 for that matter?
Embrace the change. Sergei did.