If you watch camera news, there’s one theme here lately that seems to rise above all others. And that’s the fact that camera sales are in a sharp decline. In fact, if you Google camera sales, you’ll find dozens of articles all bemoaning the grim state of the industry. There’s a ton of fear out there.
And some of these people are even going so far as to say that this is the end of photography as we know it. The sharp drop in sales must surely mean that people will stop taking photographs and that photography is a dying art form.
Honestly? I think this is a whole lot of panic and hype. It is true that camera sales are declining sharply. But is it really because no one is taking photographs anymore? Given the vast volumes of new art being produced every day, I seriously doubt that.
Truthfully, camera sales are declining because most of us really don’t need new cameras. For the vast majority of people who aren’t photographers either by trade or as a hobby, today’s phone cameras do just fine. And for those of us who pursue photography more seriously? Well, we’re not buying new cameras because those that we already own are capable of creating perfectly sharp images, even at the larger end of the spectrum.
When we look at manufacturers, we see they’re releasing new, upgraded camera bodies sometimes as often as every year. But what photographer buys a new camera every year? Almost none. Who can afford it, for one thing? And for two, none of us have a need to upgrade that often, not when the gear we already have does a perfectly fine job. For most of us? The investment in a new camera or a new lens is a lasting investment. We’ll still be using that same piece of gear five years from now or maybe even ten years from now.
It all comes down to the fact that the market is saturated. So many people who wanted a new camera system got one, and now they see no reason to upgrade, not until that system fails, becomes seriously obsolete, or when new technology isn’t just an incremental improvement, but a massive upgrade.
And what if slow camera sales do lead to a decline in the number of photographs taken? I highly doubt something like that will happen, but speaking hypothetically, if lots of people stopped taking photographs, would that spell the end of photography?
No. That’s something that simply won’t happen. There are still people to this day who take photographs with cameras and equipment approaching a century old. The occasional daguerreotype is still being made. Once an art form is born, there’s no going back. Even if popularity wanes, there will still always be artists who practice within that medium.
And where photography is concerned? That’s doubly true. When you think about it, the whole world runs on photography. The internet is comprised of billions of images, everything from art to illustrations for news articles and blogs. There is always going to be a huge demand for the still image, and with that, the demand for photographic artwork will always be present. So, no, photography isn’t a dying art form. In fact, it has become and will likely remain the most pervasive art form of all.