A smartphone user

Above: A smartphone user. Credit: Firm Bee.


The hyper-democratization of the medium is the primary outcome of the Digital Revolution (that began in the 1990s) for photography. To remark that "everyone is a photographer now," is to articulate a rather tedious truism--a self-evident platitude. Today about 1 billion photographers use their smartphones to capture images of things/people/places that interest them and then they use apps. like Instagram to immediately share and disseminate their images. It's all normal enough. It has been this way for ten years already. However, just because this hyper-democratization has been hyper-normalized doesn't mean it's not a big deal. It is a big deal. It's the most extreme and pervasive change that has ever happened in the (quite short) history of the medium. We photo-historians are still taking stock of what this democratization means. From a historian's point-of-view ten years is nothing. We are still evaluating the impact at this point. One very obvious consequence is the rapid demise of the professional photographer. The technology is now in the hands of the masses. Taking a photo is now no more an effort than any other simple daily action like turning a door handle, switching on the oven, or turning on a water tap. Today, taking-and-sharing a photo is really no effort at all.

(6 March 2019)