Our Secret Lives

January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year to all fotoLibra friends, fans, followers and freaks!

2014 may not offer the sunniest outlook the world of photography has ever seen, but we’re still going, we’re still optimistic, we’re still hopeful and we’re still excited by the great photographs our contributors are offering for sale. We’ve just had over 600 photographs of Uzbekistan uploaded. That’s 600 more than we had before.

If there’s a shadow on the horizon, it’s our supportive media. Not content with driving image prices down to little more than zero — that’s why you don’t see your photographs in the national press — they have taken to publishing articles not just predicting the death of photography, but also the death of the camera itself.

Yet one prediction I read (unencumbered by any trace of fact, footnote or reference) estimated that one trillion photographs would be taken in 2014. Clearly it’s a dying business.

To pile insult on injury, one of the big Christmas films is ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, a Ben Stiller vehicle based on the famous James Thurber short story. The original story is less than four pages long. While Walter Mitty is on a shopping trip with his wife he daydreams in turn of being a naval commander, a top surgeon, a crack shot, an ace bomber pilot … and we never learn what he actually is, apart from a hen-pecked husband.

But Ben Stiller, faced with spinning a little over three pages of text into 114 minutes of Hollywood magic, had to find him a job.

What job did he choose for the world’s most hopeless fantasist?

A fotoLibrarian, that’s what. How do you think we feel?

We feel very strongly that this is an unfair — oh, hang on … gotta go, there’s the Nobel Prize committee on the phone again.


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8 Responses to “Our Secret Lives”

  1. Julia Rich says:

    A pity its not possible to organise a photography “strike” worldwide for maybe one week, in which no-one took or supplied a single photograph. No news pictures, no photographic evidence, no new babe pictures, weddings or anything else in image form. The lack might make a few people think instead of taking photographs for granted and for free, whilst insisting all those who use cameras are paedophiles and/or terrorists. Imagine the world photo-free for a week!

    • Peter Wiles says:

      It’s an idea that probably won’t fly (!) given that the gap would be filled, as it is increasingly now, by non-professionals who are happy to have their images published. However can we take every opportunity to ask editors, freelance writers, our friends etc why quality photos should be had for free by commercial companies when, as far as I know, they pay for all other services in their supply chains (writers, graphic designers, printers etc)?

  2. John Cleare says:

    Perhaps I’m just old and cynical, but I do agree. When I learnt my photography – three years at College and a year in Fleet Street before I was fit to go freelance – photography was a respected profession, especially so after Armstrong Jones married his Princess. We were artist-craftsmen, able to do what most others could not,and we were able to make silk purses out of sow’s ears. In the Swinging Sixties and for years after, photographers were princes among ‘creatives’. For some fifty years Picture Researchers were of necessity a highly erudite profession while Picture Libraries knew their subjects and in due course created a new industry. It seems to me that Digital Imaging, or rather many of its manifestations, has destroyed all that. I’m sure there are exciting possibilities and great potential, but not as we knew it. I think an ambitious young photographer will need a deploy a completely different approach to his photography than that by which we lived. He will have to develop a fresh strategy to succeed professionally in this current image-saturated environment.

    • Brian Murray says:

      I hear what you’re saying, John, and can see that. But maybe it’s age in my case, too: modern folk don’t seem to appreciate images like they used to. I showed some of my pictures to some youngsters and they were aghast: “But they’re only black and white!”. I think one of them may have got it.

      The same thing has happened with movies. At one time, a beautiful shot was just that. Now, thanks to 3D and post effects, everything has to be flocking, or transforming with impossible camera angles. In the long run, it’s a travesty.

  3. Brian Murray says:

    If I hear the comment “everyone’s a photographer now that they have a phone”, I swear there will be repercussions.

    Ask these same folks what depth of field, hyperfocal distance or even ISO are, and they don’t have the faintest idea.

    But I see this devaluing of photographers as a wider symptom that has been going on for quite a while. Too many people believe that their own job is very hard and everyone else’s is easy. “Photography? How hard can it be? You just press the shutter, don’t you?”.

    The camera magazines don’t help. Once they were genuinely about photography, now they’re unashamedly about flogging kit, courses etc.

  4. Wayne Toberman says:

    Your message is a real eye opener for me, just coming back to the fold after a 2+ year hiatus caused from “zigging when I should have zagged”!! Busted up pretty bad, which you knew, but didn’t that there were follow-on complications which lasted much longer than expected. Thanks for all the continuing emails and opportunity announcements, Gwyn! Really appreciate the effort to keep me on the books. In spite of everything, I was voted in as 2013/14 President of the International Press Club of Chicago (IPCC.US). As such I unfortunately concur with your assessment. “J” Schools here have lost over 1/3 of their enrollment this school year alone! The Chicago Tribune (a former world-class newspaper with bureaus world-wide) fired all…EVERY ONE… of their photographers a few months ago, telling their journalists to do double duty! Anyone in Chicago with an IPHONE is now a photographer….except….B&W (a process that uses SILVER-something or other and a chemical process, and a thing called F*I*L*M!!! with remarkable resolution!!!)imaging has made a remarkable comeback in the Fine Art arena. Interesting since we all gave up on our darkrooms years ago!…or at least some of us. Anyway, thanks again, and keep pluggin’ away! Hawaii (Kauai) in late Feb…possibly Korea in early March…booked for Belgium/NL/GER in Sep (FOTOKINA!!!)…possibly Hungary and Malaga too! Making up for lost time!!! Then the IPCC has a trip in Oct/Nov in the works for Turkey and possibly farther South as well. Hope I can contribute! Happy New Year to All! Wayne

  5. Derek says:

    I thought Mitty was beautifully photographed, I particularly liked the lighting.

  6. Len Sparrow says:

    What next … spectacles as cameras??