The Wall Street Journal pointed out today that while sales of point-and-shoot cameras have declined steadily over the past few years, DSLRs and other interchangeable-lens cameras have been doing great. That's right. People don't want to just take more photos than ever, they want to take better photos, with big-kid cameras. And that's not in spite of the smartphone revolution. It's because of it.
DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are being scooped up left and right. But isn't photography supposed to by dying? I thought the depraved culture of iPhones, Instagram, and filters was destroying image-making as we know it! It's tempting to assume that's what's happening. The reality is anything but. If anything, iPhone photography actually makes people long for more. They're intrigued by the cool things they can make with their dinky phone camera, and are inspired to take it to the next level.
This is part and parcel of an expanding visual culture, where images are playing an increasingly vital role in our day-to-day lives. It's an expansion that owes credit to two things: the internet, and the quality and convenience of camera phones. For some, it's been a perilous progression; professional image-makers are seeing their jobs replaced by amateurs, as when the Chicago Sun-Times replaced its entire photo staff with iPhone-wielding writers. That's an extreme case, of course, but side effects like that can be painful.