I entered this industry at the forefront of a pivotal and crucial shift in how the roles of both photographers and models were and would be defined.

To be a photographer with the older formula required a significant financial investment, lengthy training and the prerequisite of working up through the system to slowly carve out a client base.

Alternatively to be a model one had to spend the significant resources to build a highly reputable and marketable portfolio, get picked up by an agent who was willing to champion their work and spend a great deal of their time going to auditions to earn the right to get projects.

As a result there used to be a very finite and limited number of professional photographers and models. It was an exclusive and somewhat elite career path with a high barrier for entry.

Today that all has changed. To be a photographer all you really are required to do is have a camera (a cheap one will suffice) and a computer. To be a model you can simply post a profile online with a mix of selfies and photos a friend took of you in a park. All either side has to do is check the box to indicate they have lots of experience and they can be off to the running in attempts to get work.

The cost to create has essentially become zero. Anyone can be a model, anyone can be a photographer, anyone can be a publisher.

The overly abundant influx of participants in the industry has diluted the work on both sides. With so many posing as professionals willing to work for far less than going rates – it has dried up a lot of revenue sources. For example, publications pay far less (if any) than they previously used to. It has also made it a great deal harder to stand out. With so many in the marketplace claiming to do the same thing it creates a great deal of noise that must me filtered out.

Although it is easier than ever to claim to be a photographer or a model – the truth is that it is harder than ever to work professionally as one.

However – all this industry congestion and technology changes has led to a tremendous upside. I truly believe that there has never been a better time to be a part of this industry. The crowded market has meant that a lot of professionals have had to dig deep to truly come up with innovative and ingenious ways to grow, market and define their business. It has allowed true visionaries to rise above and thrive in an industry they would have been excluded from previously.

We all now have the ability to go behind the common definition of what constitutes a professional model or photographer. This is our opportunity to direct the industry to new and exciting places.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto