I have smart phone, therefore I am… a photographer

I know a number of professional photographers – most are working as couriers, limo drivers, handymen, or anything other than photographers.

That’s because the bean counters and bureaucrats in our life believe that all you need to take a decent shot, is to point your smart phone and click. So they assume there is no need for professional photography anymore. And they’d know wouldn’t they? Not!

The most stunning example of this is in the news media, where journalists are being told to take their own shots with their phones, as they take on the role of journalist and photographer – with no increase in pay by the way. The majority of press photographers have lost their jobs.

I can understand the benefit of the public supplying photos to the news media to add to a story. But the naivety of not using professional photographers was exemplified by the newly appointed CEO of Yahoo – Marissa Mayer – when she apparently said; “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”

This is after she had herself plastered across Vogue in August this year, complete with art direction, make-up and Photoshop – all shots taken by a professional photographer of course. I doubt she would have trusted a staffer with a smart phone to manage her image.

I type therefore I am… a copywriter

And this problem is not just with those who create images for a living, but also with those who write the words we read online. Just because people can type on a keyboard, they assume they can write interesting prose.

I type therefore I am… a copywriter. The content marketers believe have no need for professional copywriters to create their wonderful content, because they can use a keyboard – most likely at 20 words a minute.

Yet just try to read your typical Tweet, infographic, or white paper and you’ll see how illiterate the majority of content marketing authors really are. These people probably think you can become a brain surgeon by hanging around the casualty ward.

So it was fascinating to see the French newspaper Libération, remove all images from its 14 November issue in a bid to show the power and importance of photography – thanks to Michael Rhodes in the UK for sending me the link.


Check it out here. It’s not really surprising how much you lose in a story when the images don’t accompany the words. But when you see a publication without the images in place, it puts the issue in perspective.

One of the problems associated with this “we don’t need trained professionals in the online world” attitude, is the impact on the income of said professionals. Hourly and project rates have declined in real terms. In Australia, copywriters are charging the same hourly rates they were charging 30 years ago. Photographers are working for a pittance.

Worse still, everyone is now a critic – you work in digital marketing so you must be an expert. Any fool can criticise copy or shoot an image, and many fools do – regardless of their level of work experience.

The last decade has seen an exponential rise in content being published, most of it online. Yet there has been no increase in the number of people studying copywriting or communications at tertiary level. And literacy rates in the OECD have continued to decline. So you can understand why so much of what is published is a complete waste of both the writers’ and the readers’ time.

One can only hope that the dumbing down of the skills of writing and photography do not destroy their craft. Computerisation has helped humans connect like never before. But the old adage still applies; garbage in – garbage out.

garbage in garbage out

The problem is that many digital marketers don’t know the difference between quality work and garbage. They believe it’s online so it must be true.
And it doesn’t really matter if it’s not the best it could be. It’s usually not their money they are spending – only their clients’ or their shareholders’. And there’s always another sucker waiting around the corner wanting to get rich online.


  1. The invention of email meant that suddenly everyone became a writer. It also shows that most people are unable to express themselves clearly through the written word.

    Every time I find I’m shaking my head in disbelief at the latest message from a colleague, I pick up the phone for clarification. Usually it’s quicker to have an actual conversation than to spend half an hour trying to sort myriad thoughts into writing,

    We have more communication tools than ever, but the quality of communication is deteriorating at a rate of knots.

  2. I will play Devil’s advocate here and say that copywriters and photographers only have themselves to blame. They simply haven’t kept up with the market.

    If they’d only start calling themselves content marketers, conversion rate specialists, infographic guru’s or content producers then they could charge exorbitant rates.

    I shall now extract tongue from cheek and head from sun bottom. (lol)

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