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Photographers, You're Being Replaced By Software 282

Posted by timothy
from the join-the-club dept.
Mrs. Grundy writes "CGI software, even open-source software like Blender, continues to improve in quality, speed and ease-of-use. Photographer Mark Meyer wonders how long it will be before large segments of the photography industry are replaced by software and become the latest casualty to fall to outsourcing. Some imagery once the domain of photographers has already moved to CGI. Is any segment of the photography market safe? Will we soon accept digital renderings in places where we used to expect photographs?"
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Photographers, You're Being Replaced By Software

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  • CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:30AM (#40005769)

    CGI has a LONG way to go before it can replace a good photograph. A well-composed, well-lit photograph can say more than most 3D animations ever could. And a photo is a lot easier and cheaper to produce. Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

    The software to do 3D may be getting easier and cheaper. But good 3D artists aren't. And a single picture of a wounded, crying girl in Syria will always have a helluva lot more power than any 3D rendering of the deployment of Syrian forces. Photography isn't going all-CGI any more than movies are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That and I think there will be backlash against it as consumers find out. Some things you just don't care. Other things you really want to see the real thing, even if it were inferior to a rendering.

      What I'll be curious to see is how many places we're okay with digital renderings in lieu of human models. It could have real advantages, you could actually see clothing on a model that you load up that looks like you (instead of the same 25 stick figures with exchangeable faces).

      • by yotto (590067)

        It could have real advantages, you could actually see clothing on a model that you load up that looks like you (instead of the same 25 stick figures with exchangeable faces).

        No, it'll be your face on the stick figure model.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by durrr (1316311)

          That's an awsome idea, why hire a wedding photographer when you can outsource it to a chinese 3d rendering company, and the results will be so much better!

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:35AM (#40005839)
      romantic bullshit, CGI replacement of photography and motion pictures is already happening. You think a person with artistic talent in 3rd world who will work for 1/100 the rate of your "pros" has less talent? The ever more powerful cheap computer will level that field fast and soon.
      • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by plover (150551) * on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:00PM (#40006167) Homepage Journal

        The balance point comes when the cost of creating and rendering the model to an adequate degree equals the cost of photographing reality.

        So for things you're going to reuse in a lot of scenes, such as a car that turns into a giant robot, yeah, the 3D model is way cheaper. For a revolting uncanny-valley version of Tom Hanks on a steam train in a blizzard, 3D is cheaper (but not better.) For a one-off modeling job to create a beautiful person using a product for an advertisement, the effort required to create the model and environment still takes a lot of human work to make it happen. Not that it doesn't take hours of makeup and lighting and staging to photograph the beautiful person and the product, just that the balance is still on the side of the photographer.

        Are you imagining a future where an advertising agency has thousands of pre-rendered models they can toss into an environment, slap a couple of boxes of product images onto the virtual tabletop, and click "print"? They do some of that today. But a lot of them have to be careful that they aren't misrepresenting the products. You can show a virtual package under a virtual christmas tree making a virtual kid virtually happy. But you can't show 3D rendered oranges and say "look how perfect our oranges are!" The FTC does have regulatory authority there, and will investigate misleading imagery in advertising.

        The thing about 3D modeling (or even 2D art, such as painting), is that a good rendering takes a tremendous amount of talent. I'm not talking about abstract art, or crayon-outlined cartoons, but creating photorealistic imagery takes a trained eye, requiring roughly the same skills as the photographer. A computer can do some of the work, such as making sure the model's foot is touching the floor, but it can't yet give you a sense of balance. That only comes as input from the human operator.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          A computer can do some of the work, such as making sure the model's foot is touching the floor, but it can't yet give you a sense of balance.

          Yet. As processing power goes higher and higher, I'm sure you can model not just the outside but innards too. Muscles flexing, tendons stretching, joints bending, the weight of your body shifting - you'll not simply wave it around like a doll but it'll actually simulate the body working to effectuate the movement. Give it a push and it tries to stay on its feet. Make it stumble and it'll recover on its own. We already have military robots that more or less do this, not bipeds but certainly four-legged ones

      • romantic bullshit, CGI replacement of photography and motion pictures is already happening.

        Yes and no.

        I sincerely doubt you could get some guy with a copy of, say, Poser [smithmicro.com] to whomp out something that an ordinary Joe would look at and go "neat photo!" (I picked on Poser because it doesn't cost thousands of bucks to get, unlike most of the high-end packages).

        Most CGI replacements in motion pictures happen either with non-human figures, or with massive crowds in the background where detail is a low priority, and most of it is fuzzed by motion or distance. Also notice that I only said motion pictures -

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        1/100th the rate? Where on earth did you get that number? CGI is currently the most time consuming and expensive part of most major movies these days. The reason they do it is not because it's cheaper, but because they can do things that are impossible or impractical with traditional film making. Sometimes because it's cheaper, as well, but a lot of times the real thing is still cheaper and of course looks better [cracked.com].

        Watch a car blow up in a cheap cable TV show. Looks fake, like CGI? Yep, it was, and they

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:37AM (#40005865) Journal

      Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

      Someone who wants a "picture" for evidence of an event which never actually happened. If the synthesized image is good enough, it will gain all the credibility that apparently-untouched photographs have. If the viewer can't tell it's 'shopped, it would take remarkable skepticism or some inherent distrust of whomever's presenting the image to disbelieve it.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        The U.S. should outlaw the use of photoshop by corporations in advertising and reporting.

        • The U.S. should outlaw the use of photoshop by corporations in advertising and reporting.

          In the name of what? Certainly not freedom.

          If your leanings are as I suspect they are towards the lack of need for a totalitarian regime due to high moral standards and solidarity, you should rather than oppose one thing support its competition. On the government level in this case it can be for example be subsidies for advertisement that inform rather than build image.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Why should the government pay for advertising?

            You do not have the freedom to lie to sell a product without repercussions. We have plenty of laws against that. All that should be done is those laws strengthened.

          • by jythie (914043)
            Well, for advertising at least it might already be covered under rules governing fraud or false/misleading advertising.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>In the name of what? Certainly not freedom.

            In the name of "You do what the government tells you to do, otherwise we will revoke the incorporation license you were granted." Just the same as a driver loses his/her license if she doesn't buckle a seatbelt or drinks alcohol while driving.

          • Re:CGI wishes (Score:4, Insightful)

            by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @04:27PM (#40009515) Homepage Journal

            In the name of accuracy.
            They should have a clear notice saying it's been artificially generated.

        • by Githaron (2462596)

          That is a little extreme. Besides. that will just cause them to use a different program.

        • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:27PM (#40006493)

          The U.S. should outlaw the use of photoshop by corporations in advertising and reporting.

          What about businesses that aren't incorporated? Should a dog groomer who uses a photo of the front of her house as part of her promotional web site be allowed to 'shop out the overhead power lines that distract the eye from the otherwise pleasant, relaxing scene? Yes? Great. How about next year, when her accountant convinces her that it will make more sense for her to incorporate her business. Will she have to put the power lines back in, now that the photograph is being used by an Eeeeevil Corporation in its ads?

          How about the four college buddies who get together in an Eeeeeevil Corporation and form a landscaping company? Should they be allowed to show a photograph of one of the yards they maintain, but use Photoshop to clone out the pile of dog crap they didn't notice when they took the photo? So, if you're free-lancing by yourself as a landscaper, that would be fine, but an Eeeeevil Corporation of four college guys would be more evil by doing so? Or is it still OK with you, if it's four guys? How about when they join up with 40 other guys, to do more work? Is cloning out the dog crap or the piece of trash in the photo only evil depending on how many people are communicating when they do it? Really?

          I suppose you're also opposed to Eeeeeevil Corporations using wide angle lenses, or special lighting, or make up artists? And photographs used by businesses should only be allowed if the photographer never crouches down to improve the perspective distortion, or to favor the light on a foreground object? Only Eeeeevil Corporations would do something like that. Honest, innocent individual humans would never resort to favoring the subjects they photograph through the use of skills and experience and good tools.

          And, of course, it's safe to say that you would completely criminalize the use of watercolor paintings, sketches or any other bit of whimsy that lends itself to artistic license and illustrative techniques meant to emphasize, visually, some particular part of a message. Right? I mean, if people start using artists' renderings in ads, it's probably the end of civilization, right?

          Think about this for a minute, OK? Yeeesh.

          • Here's an idea for your libertarian brain... Let's make them liable for any images that would mislead a customer. If you offer a picture of a big, juicy, appetizing Whopper in your ad, you better deliver something that is very close to that when I walk in to your store.

            The system you so hilariously defend depends upon customers with accurate information. Lies break the "free market" and cause it to be skewed in favor of the lairs. In most cases, it favors the company/corporation.
            • by ScentCone (795499)

              Let's make them liable for any images that would mislead a customer

              False advertising is already illegal. Individuals and businesses are each regularly hauled off to court for BS-ing in one way or another about something they're saying, selling, charging for, etc. Holding their feet to the fire is entire industry and career path.

              If you offer a picture of a big, juicy, appetizing Whopper in your ad, you better deliver something that is very close to that when I walk in to your store.

              And this has what, exactly, to do with banning the use of Photoshop by Eeeeevil Corporations? I can make the same burger look average or look more appealing just by moving the lights, changing the angle from which I photograph it, and getting the

      • Re:CGI wishes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kubernet3s (1954672) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:22PM (#40006421)
        The reason photographs are authoritative is because we believe that the only way to secure a photograph is to actually snap a camera in front of the event. If photorealistic images can be generated without this, then why should we lend photographs any credibility? Already, people's reaction to photographs showing things they don't want to be true is "that's totally photoshopped." Photography's saving grace has always been that it is fairly easy to tell the real from the fake for all but the highest quality forgeries, and then an expert can usually uncover it. Once people simply "don't know" if a picture is true, then the age of the photograph as a means of record will be dead. They will carry all the journalistic weight of engravings or portraits.

        However, as the parent suggests, if something DOES happen, and you desire a record of it, it will be cheaper to secure that record by photographing it, rather than rendering it.
        • Re:CGI wishes (Score:4, Informative)

          by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:47PM (#40007439) Homepage

          Photography's saving grace has always been that it is fairly easy to tell the real from the fake for all but the highest quality forgeries, and then an expert can usually uncover it.

          Read up on your history of photography a bit. Like the Crimean War pictures. Photographs have always been altered. And people have argued whether or not a particular photograph has been altered since the beginning of photography. Photoshop only made things easier and lowered the bar.

          Way lowered it. [psdisasters.com]

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:40AM (#40005905)

      Photography as art is going nowhere soon. Same with photojournalism, most likely.

      Commercial photography is what's going to be replaced.

      • I'd agree. In fact, people trained as professional artists and photographers are in demand by the same companies that make their living on 3D rendering and imaging. All of those "realistic" lighting effects in CGI come from people with an extensive background in film and photography creating virtual light rigs, etc, to create the realism people think is so easy to achieve.

      • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Informative)

        by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:46PM (#40006777) Journal

        Most people don't trust "Photojournalism" because of how easy it is to "stage" a photo to get the desired "effect" (propaganda)

        http://www.zombietime.com/reuters_photo_fraud/ [zombietime.com]

        http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/faking.html [fullerton.edu]

    • CGI is replacing actual photos in the stock picture business, and in the catalog business. I haven't seen an office catalog in years that uses actual pictures. It's all semi-competent CGI.

      • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:53AM (#40006063)

        CGI is replacing actual photos in the stock picture business, and in the catalog business. I haven't seen an office catalog in years that uses actual pictures. It's all semi-competent CGI.

        I know for a fact, err, trustworthy heresay... that almost all electronic catalog "pictures" are 3-d CAD renderings, sometimes with a bit of photoshop. I'm talking about real EE component catalogs, not best buy consumer catalogs.

        From trying to take pictures of things I've built, its an unholy PITA and depth of field and reflections and lighting are agonizing. You can look at the pic of a PCB, lets say a stereotypical switching power supply module, and try to figure out how I could get that depth of field and lighting without reflection issues and suddenly realize, this was done in Solidworks not a camera.

        If you want to see how bad "real pictures" of electronic devices/components look, try trashy photos of that stuff on ebay. Some of those guys are obviously not even wiping the human grease off the cellphone camera lens first.

        • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by squidflakes (905524) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:59AM (#40006151) Homepage

          Real pictures look trashy on eBay because real professional photographers aren't taking them. Getting rid of glare and getting the proper depth of field are beginner level, and most people don't even have that. A good light box can be home built for a few dollars. Most of the really good depth of field comes from a large format camera with motions, and while the digital ones are expensive they can be rented for cheap.

          Still, you're right in that a lot of component pictures are CGI, but it isn't because competent photographers can't get the shots, its because someone decided it was cheaper.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Here's a "eh" solidworks PCB. Give it a bit of cleanup, but it on a background like a model's palm/hand, put it right side up so you can read (how did that slip thru?), work a little on the textures, and its all good.

          http://bdm.cc/projects/zigboard/zigboard3d.jpg [bdm.cc]

          Here's a "eh" real photo of a PCB which may or may not link properly. Lets list the faults. Bad lighting leads to shadows, half of each resistor is illuminated and half in shadow. bright camera flash reflection in the center and off some solder

          • Well...

            First, the lighting sucks - as in there is no lighting: No shadows, ambient color is all cranked to maximum, no gloss (even on the shiny bits), no reflectivity (any surface that has a shine will reflect even a little). Next, the rez is way off. After that, the 'handles' are still showing (those white lines moving off at right angles).

            If that's going to be a drop-in replacement, at least render it first. Problem is, you'll have to light and render it so the lighting matches (perfectly!) with whatever

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rufty_tufty (888596) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:42AM (#40005949) Homepage

      Were painters redundant when photography was invented?
      Yes, many of the portrait painters were. But those skills of composing a shot, working with people were still needed. New opportunities were created, the photography + painting business ended up as being bigger than what had been the painting business alone.

      Things change; this is good.

    • Put another way: we've got another 10 years or so.

      The 3D models are getting easier and easier to build, they can be captured from photography.

      So, when Syria blows up again in 2025, you use some stock footage from 2012, compile it up, and blend it into a recent cityscape render of wherever you want the injured little girl and her family to appear.

      Saves a trip around the world, and safer than putting a professional in a war zone.

      • by JimCanuck (2474366) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:56AM (#40006109)

        So, when Syria blows up again in 2025, you use some stock footage from 2012, compile it up, and blend it into a recent cityscape render of wherever you want the injured little girl and her family to appear.

        Saves a trip around the world, and safer than putting a professional in a war zone.

        Which not only makes it not news, it makes it at best discreditable that the fighting in 2025 as you say is actually happening, at worst, its simply propaganda designed to make foreign intervention easier.

        Either way, the fighting, the injured little girl, and her family do not exist.

        There are reasons, especially for some important cases, that even today the FBI, and other developed nations national police forces still take out the film cameras instead of digital cameras. Because even the suspected photoshop of a digital picture is grounds to throw it out and make it inadmissible to be used as evidence.

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:4, Informative)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:54AM (#40006079)

      You mean like all those pinup photos from WWII? Here's a before and after [imgur.com]. (NSFWish, they're pinups). People have been photoshopping since before photoshop was invented. They still paid a team of analog artists to fix up all those photographs.

      • by dwye (1127395)

        You mean like all those pinup photos from WWII?

        The pinups were painted using photos as a guide, not actual photos. The paintings were then redone as prints, not photos.

        More relevant to the original point, Playboy used airbrushing from very early issues. I cannot say for certain about the first two (featuring one of the secretaries, and Marilyn Monroe by an outside photographer) but certainly by the end of the year.

      • You mean like all those pinup photos from WWII? Here's a before and after [imgur.com]. (NSFWish, they're pinups). People have been photoshopping since before photoshop was invented. They still paid a team of analog artists to fix up all those photographs.

        According to this, the duck-face look has been around for generations.

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by njen (859685) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:02PM (#40006187)
      As a CG artist, I can tell you that I have been producing photoreal imagery for almost a decade now. We are already past the point where CG can replace a good photo.

      For example, in The Avengers, during the final battle sequence, most of the shots in the city are 100% CG, background buildings and all. Even in many of the "non FX" type films, I can assure you there are lot's of CG going on. Which is why I love it when people tell me that they hate CG films because it's so obvious, then I give them a quick list of films they have seen and give them examples where they have watched CG without even knowing it.
    • Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

      Professional photographers, even freelance ones, don't work for a pittance. Newspapers and news websites LOVE croud sourced images because they are free. Most people get warm fuzzies when their terrible point and shoot picture of a cat appears in the paper or some big site and they'll gleefully hand over the rights to whoever asks. This is

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:08PM (#40006245)

      I've done all sorts of photography professionally - from fine art, documentary, photojournalism, weddings, to commercial (not at the same time). And by professional, I mean, actually getting paid for it and making a living and renting cameras, grip, lights, assistants - the whole gamut. I have since switched to 3D and I tell you it's slower because I have to do everything myself. It's not like animators or modelers are clamoring for still image jobs. I have to model, texture, build the shader, and light the scene everything myself (which isn't hard with my background - but radiosity is another matter). That's at least a 2-3 week additional work time for a project.

      Photography won't be replaced by CGI any time soon because the former is faster. I can hire a crew and equipment and finish a shoot in 10-12 hours tops. CG supplements it with set extension or environment/ object replacement, but to create something CG from scratch takes a very long time. I give CG this: it's easier to setup lights whereas in real life you need an electrician or a generator for larger projects, especially if it's on-location outdoors. You also need a lift and an experienced assistant to operate them, and an impeccable sense of where the wires are of course, have safety in mind at all times. With CG, I just click a light node and bam, I can duplicate 2k lights down a tunnel for a car shoot. Obviously, the downside is the render time, particularly when you have to bounce and diffuse it but if you can segment the 6k image to different quadrants per render node, and rent a render farm, it's efficient.

      Overall workflow, photography is faster in my experience only because there's people available to hire. Where I'm at, there's not too many freelance CG artists, or artists who knows lighting (because it affects the shader and vice-versa), and almost no photographer/ assistant know how to do CG. I seriously doubt CG will overtake commercially produced still photography (as opposed to wedding, event, documentary, etc).

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > CGI has a LONG way to go before it can replace a good photograph.

      The problem is that most aren't, or they are something that can be replicated by amateurs.

      When you've got a billion amateurs taking a trillion photos, chances are that a lot of what professionals do will become unnecessary. Photography will likely still thrive. It's the professional work that will become marginalized.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Hand-rendered artwork [wikipedia.org] has been fooling people into thinking it was photography since before photography existed. I doubt CGI will ever replace photography completely, but I can see pro photographers needing to learn CGI.

      Note the link is about photorealism, but artists have made paintings that you'd swear were photos since the ancient Roman times.

      A photographer is a painter without eye-hand coordination. He needs the same compositional skills and knowledge of color, light, etc. that a painter does, but doesn

    • Your probably correct for news photography, but you might be surprised at other areas. My boss's Little Brother is a 3D artist and in a previous employment they were working on a project for an automotive company, he was literally editing out microscopic details of laser scans of car bodies to get the files down to a reasonable size. The project was to build a library of Production cars that included every part, so they could "fly" the camera through the car and you would see the engine, transmission or eve

    • Re:CGI wishes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:25PM (#40006467) Journal

      Exactly.

      Right now, even the absolute best efforts don't fail to completely escape the uncanny valley [wikipedia.org], and the few that almost do usually require days of postwork and effort after the main render, just to get them that far. I won't even mention the hundreds of man-hours required to get up a proper mesh, get the lighting and composition just right, and then to wait out the render times (LuxRender, one of the better ones out there, will consume endless hours on end just to get up a complete render on a small image.)

      As someone who has had a lot of fun in the CG realm for over a decade now, I know that it is *almost* possible, but won't be for a long time - especially not to the point where fully photorealistic images can be rendered out of thin air by some CG sweatshop in China.

    • by stewbee (1019450)

      Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

      My dad is a photographer. While you might think that you could just hire any old "Jimmy Olsen" to capture some pictures, your quality will usually suffer if you go for the lowest bidder just like in anything else. The going rate for most professional photographers is probably greater than the $100/hr. I honestly don't know how much my da

    • $100/hour? Maybe in the USA, but I know a very competent 3D artist who lives in Thailand and makes about $2/hour. The cost of getting a photographer on site, and then a day of his time will easily cost more than a month of his time. That's the point of TFA - a photographer in the USA isn't competing with 3D artists in his home town, he's competing with 3D artists in the whole world.
  • Hell yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by lxs (131946) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:33AM (#40005799)

    I know that when I get married, I won't be hiring a photographer. Instead I'll hire Pixar to make a 15 minute short commemorating the occasion.

    • Re:Hell yeah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:36AM (#40005853)
      I wish in that case it isn't like Up. Most heartbreakingly beautiful 7 minutes ever rendered.
    • by youn (1516637)

      Brilliant :)

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      spend the money, and your official honeymoon footage could be world class porn!
    • "I know that when I get married ... I'll hire Pixar to make a 15 minute short commemorating the occasion."

      Hey ... if your going for fantasy, you might as well take it all the way, right!

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      Darn! I got married already.

      But I guess I won't be needing children if I can render them. No student loans for my non-existent kids! I can also make my babies look cuter and anyone else!
    • by vlm (69642)

      Video is a big problem for photographers and not in the way you specify.

      A big part of being a photographer is getting just the right moment for the shot at the perfect angle. An instant in time.

      Now you just run a high def video camera, walk around and wave the camera, and pick the best individual frame later.

      Aside from weddings, this is also causing license chaos because people used to purchase and pay separate photo and video rights at sporting events... why pay for photo rights if you can just use a singl

  • Not outsourcing (Score:5, Informative)

    by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:34AM (#40005821)
    Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate. This is elimination of the job by technological advance (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not).
    • by Coisiche (2000870)

      Ah, what this means is that instead of hiring a local photographer at local rates you can get a cheaper overseas person to remotely take photographs via a, soon to be ubiqitous, drone.

      None of which will be quite the same as having an experienced photographer right in front of you; but such is progress.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate. This is elimination of the job by technological advance (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not).

      Sorry, you are referring to "offshoring" not "outsourcing." You can domestically outsource something. Outsource does not equal moving functions to another country.

    • (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not)

      "Made redundant". "Replaced". "Consolidated".

      Yeah, come to think of it, I have nothing great either. They're all just generic terms for, "we're laying you off because we don't need you any more". Even so, it's not outsourcing, and I honestly doubt photographers are in any more danger than singers are from vocaloids. In fact, they're in less danger, I'd wager.

    • Dr. Alan Grant: It looks like we're out of a job.

      Dr. Ian Malcolm: Don't you mean extinct?

      Jurassic Park (1993)

    • by hrvatska (790627)
      This is more like becoming unemployed due to structural changes in the economy.
    • Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate. This is elimination of the job by technological advance (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not).

      Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing and neither is your definition. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a a 3rd party company to do the work instead of doing it in house. Offshoring would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate.

    • Not to be semantic,...

      Not to be pedantic, but I believe you meant to say, "Not to be pedantic,..." I am not sure that a person can be "semantic" by any reasonable usage of the word.

  • Agreed. Why do people feel the need to be anxious? It's just not necessary. Besides, what really matters is composition. And as crazy has already noted, this really only applies to heavily composed photography, not spontaneous. So, yeah, stock photographers might need to be on the lookout, but photojournalists? Not so much.
  • "Everyone: You're Being Replaced By Software"
    From the and-by-small-purpose-built-robots dept.

  • No it is not, Yes we will.
  • This is the same LOL as before.

  • I have my desktop set up to use Ryan Bliss' art [digitalblasphemy.com] as wallpaper, and a lot of people see the nature scenes and think they're photographs. And, frankly, some of them really are that good.

    On the other hand, good as Bliss and others may be, I really do prefer the actual photographs that $HERSELF takes. It's hard to compete with Mother Nature.

    • a lot of people see the nature scenes and think they're photographs

      I can see thinking they started with photographs, but really? They need to get outside more. :)

  • Ignoring the technical aspect... there is (amazingly!) an artistic component to getting a good shot. It's not as simple as pointing at what you want to photograph and hitting a button. You may replicate this if you have an eye for composition, but a human still has to make that decision at some point, and that person may well be (or have been) a photographer.

  • by Hentes (2461350)

    Creating a 3D representation of a scenery is much harder than clicking your camera.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:55AM (#40006091) Homepage

    Call me when you can render the Wedding party in Blender. Or the Latest NFL game shots in blender. OR better yet, Any journalisim photos in blender.

    Maybe the useless inanimate object in a studio for advertising photographers have no more job, but the rest of us that actually capture reality have nothing to worry about.

  • Companies already do cgi marketing campaigns in addition to photographic ones- and they will continue to do so in the future.

  • > "easy-of-use"
    > software replacing photographers = outsourcing?

    I'm not bothering to RTFA, as from my standpoint I'm not too worried about software replacing photographers. Some conveniences will come into play - an automated system at Rite Aid to take your photo, maybe a kiosk downtown that takes your picture and then makes a caricature. But then, the summary seems to focus on rendering vs actual photographs, which I think we won't really see much of - sometimes it's easier to render, but most of the

  • by russellh (547685) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:09PM (#40006259) Homepage

    A photograph requires a subject - similarly, a cgi render requires scene data. If you have the scene data, such as a product model, or a mountain, then you can take a virtual photograph by setting the lighting, framing the scene, etc.

    So let's say I want an image looking up a tall skycraper from the ground. I could go out, find a location, wait for the right weather and lighting conditions and take my traditional photograph. Or, if I happen to be able to find a skyscraper model, I could easily compose the exact scene I want in my computer. Faster, probably. And maybe with Google's or someone else's increasingly accurate data, it could be an actual skyscraper and not just some stock model. So yeah, this will replace a lot of traditional photography, without a doubt.

    But art is always up to the artist.

    • by Telvin_3d (855514)

      Or, if I happen to be able to find a skyscraper model, I could easily compose the exact scene I want in my computer. Faster, probably.

      This sentence is how I know you are a programmer. First, finding a premade photo-realistic model of anything that happen to match the image in your imagination is worse than a needle in a haystack. But let's say you do.

      You still need surrounding buildings, if only to create the right reflections and shadows. You need realistic trees and stop lights and power lines linking everything. You need sidewalks and roads with the right geometry. And everything needs matching textures with similar levels of dirt/colo

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:12PM (#40006297)

    It's simple to understand really. You the human, performing {x} task will be replaced when it is economically advantageous to do so. If replacing you with someone living in a foreign land or even locally provides an economic advantage. You will. If replacing you with a robot, or other synthetic construct provides an economic advantage. You will.

    If your goal is to not be replaced then it will be necessary for you the human performing {x} task to stay ahead of your competition with regards to ensuring that it provides an economic advantage over alternatives to employ you. This is the most valuable lesson anyone living in a capitalist society can receive yet it seldom is taught. Dear employee, you are not an entitled individual, you are a cog in a machine. If you do not fit you will be replaced.

  • When you hire (or have a friend do it for free) a photographer, they concentrate on taking pictures of people and the event. Before they have to gather equipment and plan for the occasion (will extra lighting be required? are there specifics not to take pics?). Then after the event, job is not over as photog needs to distribute the images (how many of you have a friend who took all kinds of photos but nobody ever sees them?). Like pilots (which some can be replaced by Otto or some other software program) do

  • Weddings, school pictures, family pictures, journalism, mugshots, and nearly any other specific event that people want a visual record.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:13PM (#40007075) Homepage Journal

    Chalk another one for the lawyers.

    One advantage of CG is the elimination of concern over buildings and landmarks that must be licensed to appear in film or advertising. Movies and TV shows filming in NYC (especially Times Square) commonly replace buildings and advertising with computer images to avoid licensing and copyright concerns. It can be expesive when something falls between the cracks. An example - The movie poster for Spiderman featured a reflection of the Chrystler Building in Spidey's lens. The owners of the Chrystler Building sued and the poster was recalled, reprinted with a photoshoped image, and redistributed.

    When starting from scratch with a full CG image all parties involved can be sure there will be no such FUBARs. Advertisers want eye popping images. Most are pretty flexible about the source.

  • Already being done (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lordmetroid (708723) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:20PM (#40007143)
    Already being done, I know from friends of mine who work in IKEA PR-department that they have been constructing scenes in 3D modelling software instead of photographing for at least 3 years already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:13PM (#40007815)

    All joking of robots replacing artists aside, there is some truth to Mr. Meyer's concern, and I have felt the consequences. Allow me to share a brief story as my first-ever Slashdot comment.

    My father migrated to the US as a young man and high school dropout and learned to make his living as a commercial photographer. He got good at it, and though our family has never seen an excess of money, we've been able to survive from his steady income from the variety of low- and high-profile clients. (Though the payoff wouldn't suggest it, some are extremely well known -- anyone with a credit card looks at one of his old photos every day. #brag)

    The big, then-ugly switch to digital came and he closed his dark room and turned on his Mac. Since then, his most steady client was one of the top major US mobile phone carriers. For well over a decade (maybe two, I have a terrible sense of time), he shot all of their new phones for packaging, billboards, etc. The market slowly changed and other customers stopped asking for photos, but this single company kept our family afloat.

    Last year the company hired a new marketing firm who convinced them to switch from hi-res photographs of their products to 3D computer-rendered graphics. My dad was no longer needed and after many years of nonstop work they dropped him. My dad, who is now 72 years old, with no other steady photo customers, has had to make changes. He packed up his photo studio and set up shop at home for occasional shoots, but is applying to grocery stores so he can pay the bills. (Being adaptable and resilient, he has also been teaching himself digital video editing in an effort to get into that market.)

    What about the phone company's switch to rendered models? Apparently it has gone poorly for them. Word has it that the switch was a disaster -- turnaround for new images was neither cheaper nor faster -- and they have fired the marketing firm, who in turn, consequentially, has had to make massive layoffs.

    So back on topic, yes, there is CG replacing some photography in the real world. But such an "upgrade" seems yet early. Maybe even premature or naively futuristic. Make what you will of its outcome.

  • by theshibboleth (968645) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:56PM (#40008459)
    To be fair, photographers replaced painters around the turn of the century--many asked why anyone ought to make "photo-realistic" (of course they didn't call it that at the time) paintings if you could just snap a photo instead. If CGI replaced photos entirely in the media then it would be a sort of restoration as it seems to me the CGI artist is more like a painter than a photographer.

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