Photography, Writing

Is the Future in Live-streaming?


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Looking at how the creative industry is still very alive in South Korea, it’s hard to imagine why things won’t return to normalcy after the Circuit Breaker ends in Singapore. We’ll just have to wear our masks, wash our hands more often and not go to work when we feel sick, right? I mean, cities like Hong Kong are also starting to relax restrictions and is planning to reopen gyms. How bad could things be? Surely the pandemic isn’t going to upend everything that we’ve built? Nobody knows. But looking at how South Korea might be expecting a second wave of cases, it’s best not to be overly positive about the situation.

In many countries where lockdown is still not lifted, we see photographers pushing out virtual photoshoots as a solution. It’s not the perfect solution. Photographers make it clear upfront that the quality of the photos will definitely not be as good. (I say, this is the best time to experiment with grainy, blurry film-like looks. And maybe even contrasty high-flash looks.)

Considering it from a business point of view,

virtual photoshoots will not be profitable in the long term for the amount of time and effort required from both parties. For commercial and fashion photography projects that usually require a team of creatives to execute a creative vision, most of the work will now fall on the model. Potentially, that might mean models with basic photography skills and equipment will start commanding higher rates and at the same time, push photographers who play the low-price game out of of their jobs.

Although the edited images taken with the help of photographers might still look better than those taken by someone who has little knowledge about lighting, composition and editing, doing virtual photoshoots means lower image quality and naturally lower prices. I mean, would you pay someone in the thousands for creative direction, when you’re the one getting most of the physical work done?

Will live-streaming then be the future?

China has seen much success in live-streaming, even before the pandemic. In recent years, many Taobao shop owners have seen huge success doing live-streaming; I had a classmate from Yonsei University KLI bring in six figures within three months of starting up her Taobao business—just by live-streaming. And ever since the pandemic, wedding photographers and videographers have been introducing live-streaming services as alternatives, since people are afraid to hold large scale wedding ceremonies and banquets now.

We’re also gradually seeing the trend in other industries, where live-streaming seems to be the answer. The future for business owners seem to be in personality, consumer trust and high quality, engaging live-streaming sessions that are less staged and photoshopped. Essentially, consumers are looking for a more realistic presentation.

Ultimately…

the photography industry will see a lot of changes as technology advances.

Perhaps instead of a rising demand for photographers, the future will see more backend jobs with retouchers and post-editors being hired to take some of the burden off the shoulders of the models.

And perhaps more photographers and videographers will become educators and social media personalities (think Bryant, Brandon Woelfel, Jessica Kobeissi, Peter McKinnon and Daniel Schiffer) rather than service providers even as the pandemic dies off.

What do you think?