The debate over what qualifies someone as a professional photographer, especially in this day and age, is a difficult topic. With mediums like Instagram giving anyone with a smartphone the opportunity to flex their artistic muscle, more traditional media is quickly falling behind. But in the case of some Chicago Sun-Times reporters, mobile photography is now part of their job description.
According to former Sun-Times reporter Robert Feder, the publication has laid off its photojournalist staff—even Pulitzer Prize winner Jonh H. White—in favor of using iPhones. Surviving staff is even being summoned to a mandatory “iPhone photography basics” class following the layoff of the paper’s entire photography wing. So does this mean everyone with an iPhone on the Sun-Times staff is now a pro photog? The debate rages on.
One could argue that photography as it existed many decades ago died with the introduction of digital. And now with smartphones in millions of pockets, quality images are being snapped and shared in the billions everyday; photography has never been more accessible. Of course, the person taking the photo has to possess the necessary talent to snap a photo worthy of print. Or do they? Sun-Times clearly felt simply equipping someone with an iPhone is enough.
The iPhone has consistently been one of the more used devices for mobile photography, and Sun-Times believes the images are good enough for Web and TV media. Heck, we’ve seen iPhone images turn up in print media before, so maybe the publication’s plan isn’t all that crazy. It’s just a shame it came at the expense of dedicated professionals who made their living off the craft.
Does this mean the more traditional photojournalists of the world are going extinct?