Just before this past Easter, Google announced that they would give away for free their Google Nik Collection. The Nik Collection was for a very long time a highly respected set of photo editing plugins for Photoshop. To a lot of – not that old – photographers it meant the end of a beloved set of plugins. Surely this was the end of any updates to the software suite. I suspect that this was Google’s way of unburdening itself of this product with no fuss or muss.
Google’s actions also foreshadow a trend that will encompass all of photography. As this article in the New Yorker discusses, Desktop based photo editing applications are being phased out in favor of mobile apps. In hindsight this point should have become obvious when Adobe started introducing mobile versions of their Lightroom and Photoshop products a couple of years ago. There has been a bit of hand wringing over this especially among older, err, more experienced photographers.
I personally have no problem with this state of affairs. There are the selfie makers and then there are photographers. The difference between them is not how technically good their photographs are but rather how much thought went into them. I write tons of e-mails, blog posts and texts but I would not consider myself a Writer (capital W). Rather, I am a writer (small w). I do not pull my hair out searching for that perfect phrase or sentence. My writing is more utilitarian just like the selfie photographers (selfieographers?) aim is more about communicating a message or making note of some thing or event albeit with a little flourish. And so I don’t think the definition of Photographer (Big P)is changing, rather I think a new class of picture takers, photographer (with a little P) has come into prominence with the new technologies. They are prominent and voracious and technology companies like Adobe and Google see a market in catering to them.
While the target audience for the mobile photo editing apps is most likely this new group of selfieographers, Artists and Photographers will always take advantage of whatever technology is available in their slice of time. While for now I concentrate on making exhibition prints of the photographs I take and make (and don’t park them somewhere in the Cloud) I can see a time where I could make a portfolio of image made with an iPhone and some mobile photo editing apps. There is already an app for calibrating the color of ipads (made by X-Rite) geared towards professionals (i.e. those who make a living off photography). Of course I would try to have some sort of overarching idea that I would try to embody in the images and then try to extend the practice of iPhone photography somehow, either in the presentation of the images (25 iPhones mounted on a gallery wall?) or possibly in how the iPhone is used in creating the images. Regardless, just like the writer sweating over choosing just the right word to put in a sentence, I will always question the what and why of my photography practice.