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devaluing art


Why the internet is devaluing art and how it's YOUR fault

I just read an article from the LA Times website where Robert Levine talks about how the internet devalues creative work and it got me thinking about how this applies to photography. I have to conclude that I agree with Robert on that hypothesis but not on much else of what he says.

It's simple supply and demand really. There's much more great work being produced for much less money now. In short, you people are getting too good at taking petter pictures and processing them to a professional shine. This is as a result of the rapid educational possibilities of the internet and technology advances that have put in the hands of the masses the same creative tools that were formerly available only to a few. And, shock horror, it turns out that there were loads more talented people out there who previously wouldn't have had the education and tools needed to produce competitive quality work.

Ironically Photoshop is a great example of one such tool. Look at the amazing wealth of superb quality photography on Google+. Even 5 years ago the typical standard of photography I saw online was markedly lower than it is today. And tools like Photoshop are partly responsible. People have always had talent but, today, more than ever in the past they also have the knowledge and tools they need to produce the images they envisioned.

My worry, though, is that Photoshop is returning to being a tool only for the 'elite'. I got a lot of feedback for my article Wave bye bye to Photoshop. Most of that feedback was agreement but of the few that disagreed the majority were basically saying,

"Photoshop *should* be expensive because it's a professional tool and there are lesser tools for the plebs who can't afford the good version".

In essence they were saying that because they could afford it they quite liked the idea of locking everyone else out - everyone else can use the less good tools that produce less good results. This is plain and simple elitism of the most unattractive kind.

The joke is on Adobe and the big media content producers, though, because this problem is going to solve itself. If Adobe don't sell a product that people can afford then smaller, hungrier companies like MacPhun, Coppertino, Realmac Software, Pixelmator and many others will just steal their lunch. The same is already true for the creative work producers. Big stock agencies are already feeling the pinch from micro stock sites like iStockPhoto. And in the music world too with millions of independent producers making and selling music direct to their fans without ever signing a record deal. Google Music is all set to capitalise on that gold rush.

The message for Adobe, Hollywood and the big content producers is simple. Make your product available to people where they want to buy it (online) and make it affordable. Cause one thing is for sure - we masses aren't going to go back to making crappy quality work. The competition is here to stay.