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How To Lay Off An Entire Photography Department

When the Sun-Times Media Group photography department received an email to attend a mandatory meeting not on Sun-Times property, they knew something was not clicking right. The exposure was off. Usually all such meetings were held in the photo studio itself. It took only a couple of minutes for the picture to develop: all 28 photo department staffers were laid off. Some wished their bodies were equipped with some sort of built-in stabilization as they reeled at the news. “They didn’t even say ‘Thank you.'”

Read the story at: CNN

Where will the Chicago Sun-Times turn to for its photographic needs now? Their reporters are now supposed to take their own pictures and videos on iPhones and freelance photographers will fill in the gap.

Technology is amazing. When the iPhone hit the market, so many people rejoiced and fell over one another to get one. [It’s not the same today. Walk into any Apple store and it is simply amazing to see the number of customers waiting to get their iPhone repaired or fixed; this lack of focus on quality has probably tarnished the brand quite a bit.]

But this type of disruptive technology makes it easier for every joe and susan to do things that before required an expert to do. Yes, anyone can now take good-enough-to-be-published pictures with their iPhone that before required a photographer with some expert knowledge fiddling with a SLR/DSLR.

I don’t believe for one moment that the level of photo quality at the Chicago Sun-Times will be anything near what it was before their photo department was laid off, but most people pay only a cursory glance at news and photos anyway; whether a photo is great or not does not necessarily make or break their day. Only those in the know care, stop to look closer at a photo, admire its composition, lighting, choice of exposure settings, and the emotion it evokes. We look closer at the name under the photo and file it.

We wish the best to the staff of Chicago Sun-Times and hope other photo departments have taken notice and are planning for the future.

Whenever we see a technology that makes it big into consumer products, like the iPhone did, we should beware that there will be changes ahead that will affect how business is done — and that business may be ours. Change is good. However, some of us will not be quite prepared for it and therefore, for some of us, it may be bad.

Who would have thought that a gadget like the iPhone could result in the layoff of a whole photo department — with more to follow? It’s a game-changer, business-changer, career-changer. It’s difficult to predict the repercussions of disruptive technology, but with so many making it to the consumer market [Google Glass anyone?], there is an uneasy feeling among some today that [John Mayer does not need to keep on waiting for the world to change anymore since] the times they are a-changin’, again. This time around, Apple and Google may be the two companies that will probably fuel much of that change, though don’t be surprised to see smaller players break through and make their mark. [Of course, this change is not fueled by consumer products alone.]


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