Ritchin and the photographer as a paid researcher

An interesting observation made by Fred Ritchin in ‘After Photography’ (2009, p.27) is that of whether the photographer is merely becoming a paid researcher who enables the photo editor to complete the required brief? It was a short (one paragraph) philosophical point he makes after being told that his own image will be manipulated at the editors behest after the shoot by the photographer. His feeling is that post-photographic processes have diminished the need for both photographer and subject (in this case a human being). Now while I think he is maybe over stretching the point (at this moment in time at least), it does make for a good discussion point and has prompted me to think about it regarding my assignment for this part of the module.
Does photography still require a camera and/or photographer?
Currently photographer’s are clearly still in demand. Who will take the photos if not the photographers?
What is Ritchin’s approximation/definition of a photographer and what is mine, in this instance?
As he gives no definition in his text, I assume Ritchin is talking about a professional photographer in this case. On the basis that this means ‘paid’ then the market is saturated with us. However, given the proliferation of cameras and images and the quality of those cameras taking the photograph, I think that we have hit an age whereby almost anyone can claim be a photographer even if it is with a portfolio of just one image. It is the photographic version of Andy Warhol’s assertion in 1968 that, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes“.  The image that goes viral, that gains 5000 ‘likes’ or obtains it’s own hashtag becomes, for that fifteen minutes, famous. In this case it is the image which has it’s fifteen minutes rather than the person (ironically somewhat further supporting Ritchin’s claim). Ritchin’s ‘After Photography‘ was published in 2009. This was only three years after Twitter and Facebook started up with Instagram a mere digital babe making it’s debut in 2010. All these sites along with the myriad other photos sites (many of which existed before these big three but then had to play catch up with them and enter the viral game having previously been fairly sedentary ‘holding’ sites), have completely changed the direction and intent of photography even since Ritchin’s book was published a mere six years ago.
So, my summation of this is that, it is not the photographer who will be redundant per se, it is that more photographers (by my definition of ‘photographers’) will need to take less photographs to achieve the same result.
The digital distribution of these images has also changed giving editors the chance to obtain them from myriad different sources whether ethically or unethically. Again this is something which I feel I could feed in to my assignment.
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