Future Of Photography: Taking Or Creating Images

Posted on 5/3/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

If you enjoy taking pictures and are considering photography as a career, maybe it is time to think again. If you’re in your 20s or 30s it is definitely time to think again. If you’re thinking about majoring in photography at a University, please don’t waste your money.

That doesn’t mean you must give up the joy of image creation. The world is rapidly moving to a time when there will be other and more lucrative ways to be involved in image creation than taking pictures. Forget about the camera and focus on the computer.

Consider these numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  Photographers Graphic Designers Multimedia Artists
      and Animators
Jobs in 2016 147,300 266,300 73,700
2017 Median hourly wage $15.62 $23.41 $33.91
2017 Median Annual Salary $32,490 $48,700 $70,530
Job Outlook - 2016 to 2026 Decline 6%
Increase 4%
Increase 8%

The demand and pay for photographers will continue to decline while the demand for more CGI artists will increase. Want to earn twice as much per hour as a photographer? Learn CGI.

If we look at U.S. newspaper employment alone, there were 411,800 employed in January 2001, down to 297,348 in January 2009 and only 173,709 in September 2016. These figures are for all employees, not just photographers who represent a very small percent of the total. The BLS doesn’t provide a separate breakdown for photographers, but percentage wise the decline is just a bad, if not worse.

If you want a career in image creation, then learn Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and go to school to be a Multimedia Artist or Animator. Learn how to manipulate the environment and produce photorealistic images. This seem likely to be the future of all video, electronic and printed media. CGI is where the demand and greatest career opportunities will be.

Photography used to play an important role in communication, because a photograph was accepted as an accurate report of a real situation. However, with the introduction of Photoshop and CGI, and sometimes just basic editing, it is no longer possible to trust that anything we see or hear is an accurate or truthful representation of what actually happened.

Soon we won’t be able to tell whether President Donald Trump made some outrageous statement, of whether it was a CGI creation of him making the statement, unless you were actually in the room watching him as he said it.

Live TV news may become more important, but everything else will be assumed to be false unless it happens to support a persons pre-determined beliefs.

Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Marcel Pirosca Posted May 7, 2018
    Hi Jim,

    Good article. I've been thinking about this for a while now and your main point is valid. People that are now selling stock are transitioning from photography to video right now and in the future probably into 360° and VR video and CGI. No wonder the prices are so low for photos.

    And yes, it is a scary future one where we won't be able to tell reality from what we see on our screens. I'm not sure I want to live in a world where I must assume everything to be false from the get go. But maybe that will make people look harder for the truth.

    Anyway, very interesting blog. Thanks for your articles.

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