1. The advent of the affordable DSLR. 10 years ago, Canon released the D30. NOT the 30D but the D30 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_EOS_D30.) This opened the flood gates. From that original, affordable 3.1 megapixel DSLR camera to today’s super-featured, high-megapixel, low-noise cameras there have been dozens of important cameras in between – each expanding on the past, and giving us a look into the future.
I am lucky to have all the latest cameras, but I still have that original D30 I bought and it still works. I sold lots of images taken with that 3.1 megapixel camera. It was the camera that got me to make the permanent switch to digital from film. It changed the way the photography business works on every level – from consumer to professional to manufacture to retail. It changed me and my photography too and the advent of the affordable DSLR was the most popular answer I received on Twitter.
2. The aggressive adoption of the smart, picture-capable, mobile phone. Mobile devices have spread like wild fire. More people have these devices than televisions. And the increased multi-media functions of these phones, particularly since the launch of the iPhone in June 2007, makes them great for sharing pictures. Not only are smart phones like the iPhone the most popular device to take photos with, they are an amazing device for photographers who want to show and share photos. The portable mini-portfolio has changed the way we look at, consume and buy images.
The smart phones have also been invaluable in helping photographers do their jobs. From mapping software, to GPS, to sunrise/sunset calculators and access to search engines, photographers can – while in the field – make plans, change plans, gain access to information and do a multitude of other chores that make taking photographs easier. It’s almost hard to imagine the world without these devices, yet I spent most of my life living on a planet where they didn’t exist.
3. The launch of the iPad. I think this is perhaps one of the most significant technology advances for photographers since the invention of the affordable DSLR. The iPad has taken all the advancements and advantages we gained from mobile phones and simply super-sized them.
The iPad is quickly becoming the new portfolio. The iPad competitors are about to launch and will cause Apple to ramp up and make the iPad even better. The apps available for the iPad also make it great for professional photographers who need to keep track of everything from model releases to gear.
The portability, affordability and reach of the iPad and the devices that will no doubt follow must be looked upon as a major series of events in the 2000-2010 decade.
4. Photography coverage of natural and man-made disasters was huge in this decade. From 9.11, to Katrina, to the Haiti earth quakes, the earth quakes and flooding in Pakistan, the Haliburton/Gulf oil spill and the disasters caused by the wars in Iraq and elsewhere were all brought home to us by amazing, talented, brave, selfless photographers. We got a first-hand look at tragedy and the net effect was that the rest of the world had a hard time ignoring these disasters. Photographic coverage of these tragedies drove governments, charities and normal people to spring into action to deliver aide to the impacted areas and peoples. Photography also showed us how temporary our lives are here on this planet and how precious life really is.
5. Perhaps the saddest and most disturbing photography news of the last decade was the acceptance and implementation of the war on photography. Using the excuse of 9.11 and then terrorism in general, governments, private security guards and even ordinary citizens who are afraid of the scrutiny that photographic evidence might bring, have declared war on photography and photographers.
Just this week Las Vegas police launched a campaign asking citizens to specifically target photographers who were taking pictures of “non-touristy” things. Pity the poor photo journalist who might be doing a project photographing people who live under a bridge or who are homeless or who are in some fool’s opinion not “touristy” enough.
The war on photography is based on security theater and plain old nonsense. Out of 1000s of terrorist attacks documented by the US State Department, only one – which happened in London, can be linked to a terrorist who relied on photography to plan the attack. Meanwhile, in that case and in most every other case where it COULD have happened, the photos were already readily available. Between Google Street View, public databases and thousands of other publicly-accessible information sources, you can already find a photo and even builder’s plans for almost every building or terrorist target in the USA.
The war on photography is my pick for the most significant development of the last decade because it has the opportunity to do the most damage to the practice of photography as a whole. If photographers, their clients, their vendors and others who are close to the industry don’t act soon, it will be too late. More and more photographers will needlessly be arrested, detained and even punished for carrying out innocent activities just so some overzealous cop can brag to his supervisors he caught another “bad guy.” Let’s hope that the next decade doesn’t make it worse. Let’s also hope for more of the happier innovations and actions on this list to grow and prosper for the next decade.