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Chicago Sun-Times axes all staff photographers, offers reporters 'iPhoneography training'

post #1 of 184
Thread Starter 
The Chicago Sun-Times, one of the oldest daily newspapers in America, fired its entire pool of 28 photographers on Friday, and plans to source future graphics from reporters who will be trained to capture print-worthy images with their iPhones.

iPhone Camera


First reported by former Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder on Facebook (via Cult of Mac), the publication plans to give reporters mandatory training in "iPhone photography basics" as a replacement for the outgoing photographers. One of the fired photographers is Pulitzer Prize winner John H. White.

With smartphones, or camera-toting feature phones, being nearly ubiquitous, an increasing number of news outlets are turning to the pubic for immediate "on the scene" shots. For example, when a tornado ripped through Moore, Okla. on May 20, initial news coverage relied on photos from residents and storm chasers posting images to various social media sites.

From Feder's Facebook page:

Sun-Times reporters begin mandatory training today on "iPhone photography basics" following elimination of the paper's entire photography staff. "In the coming days and weeks, we'll be working with all editorial employees to train and outfit you as much as possible to produce the content we need," managing editor Craig Newman tells staffers in a memo.


It appears the Sun-Times is looking to use the iPhone's camera as a step-up from amateur-shot pictures currently used by Web and TV media.

A recent side-by-side comparison of photos taken by all six iPhone versions illustrates how the device has developed as a portable shooter.

While Apple's latest iPhone 5 takes image capture to new levels with an 8-megapixel CMOS sensor with glass optical elements and a man-made sapphire cover glass, it can't compete with modern digital SLRs, especially when those rigs are in the hands of a seasoned professional.

The Sun-Times is willing to take a chance, however, and believes that with the proper training, reporters can gather images at a quality high enough to publish.
post #2 of 184
There's sadness in that story, but I suppose it's technology making other "norms" obsolete. Seems that all the photos we see lately comes from mobile devices anyways. I supposed it's not a surprise.

Interesting it's all iPhones. Not one mention of Android devices.
post #3 of 184
Sad, so sad for those photographers. I take photography as a side hobby, and despite the massive improvements in phone cameras recently, those photos still cannot measure up to the dedicated high end cameras. Heck, it's easy enough to tell an image taken by an iPhone 5 and that taken by $600 Nikon/Canon prosumer DSLR. You paid $600 for a dedicated camera, versus $600 for a phone that just happens to also has a camera.

Becoming a photog isn't easy. There are lots of training, interning, learning on the jobs, and yes, heavy investment in photo equipments. It's so sad to see a large newspaper ditching all the arts of photography and tell the photogs "just take pictures with your phone".
post #4 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoffdino View Post

Sad, so sad for those photographers. I take photography as a side hobby, and despite the massive improvements in phone cameras recently, those photos still cannot measure up to the dedicated high end cameras. Heck, it's easy enough to tell an image taken by an iPhone 5 and that taken by $600 Nikon/Canon prosumer DSLR. You paid $600 for a dedicated camera, versus $600 for a phone that just happens to also has a camera.

Becoming a photog isn't easy. There are lots of training, interning, learning on the jobs, and yes, heavy investment in photo equipments. It's so sad to see a large newspaper ditching all the arts of photography and tell the photogs "just take pictures with your phone".


That's true.  However, when most news is online and pictures are usually no more than 800x600, and printed magazines are slowly going out of style and read on tablets, SLR quality is not a necessity methink.  It's sad.

post #5 of 184
This is stupid. Being a good photographer isn't just training. It's experience and creativity that's makes them shine. Just because you can take a pic of your cat doesn't make you a prof photog.
post #6 of 184
The best camera is the one you have on you.
post #7 of 184
A business selling contents axes its pro photographers and hoping to train reporters to capture good enough photo for publication is a decision that they will soon regret.

The question is how effective a reporter can one be while being a photographer?

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post #8 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by unDED View Post

A business selling contents axes its pro photographers and hoping to train reporters to capture good enough photo for publication is a decision that they will soon regret.

The question is how effective a reporter can one be while being a photographer?

I can hear the reporters now: sir! Sir! I have two questions for you. 1. Can you smile at my iPhone? 2. When did you learn about the terrorist plot?
post #9 of 184

More jobs down the drain, never to be seen again...

post #10 of 184

This is a mistake for at least two reasons.

 

First, the ubiquity of smartphones is not the right reason to fire photographers because equipment is not what makes a professional photog. John White didn't win his Pulitzer because of his equipment (which is no better than that of other professional photogs). He also didn't win it because he knew the basics of how to use a camera. He won it because he is an artist and an artisan. He knew when to take a photograph, where to take it and how to take it. You cannot pass on such instincts in a basic training course.

 

Second, sports photography does require professional equipment. No smartphone can produce the spectacular shots typically shown on the front page of the sports section. The sensor, optics and speed are totally inadequate.

 

If this story accurately represents what Chicago Sun-Times is planning to do, it is not a decision about iPhonegraphy being good enough tools. It is a decision to forsake photography as an important tool.

post #11 of 184

An iPhone is obviously not a better camera than an expensive DSLR, but I think that a lot depends on the person that is behind the lens. If you hand an expensive camera to a no talent amateur, you'll end up with crappy photos, and if you place an iPhone in the hands of a talented photographer, with an eye for things, you'll end up with some ok pictures, though obviously, a talented photographer using premium gear will produce the best results.

 

Many news stories today and photos and videos are captured by amateurs with their phones, because there are no pro photographers around, so phone cameras have been able to capture many news stories and events that would have been impossible to capture in the past.

 

The main thing that annoys me when people use their phone cameras is when morons shoot video holding their phones vertical, and then post it to Youtube. Are these people totally retarded? Do they not realize how tiny and stupid their videos look when being shot vertical? Sometimes the subject or image that they are shooting might be interesting or newsworthy, but the tiny, vertical videos just ruins everything. I almost feel like slapping people when I see them holding their phones and filming in portrait mode. It should be forbidden for people to shoot video in portrait mode. Maybe the next iPhone can product a slight electric shock if some dumbass gets the bright idea to shoot some video in portrait mode. 

post #12 of 184

Surprising a paper still had staff photographers. Freelancers would probably be less expensive and more widely available.

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post #13 of 184
Lucky for the Paparazzi, you can't take topless photos of celebrities from 800 meters away with an iPhone. Their jobs are safe for now - but not for long. Not for long.
post #14 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Surprising a paper still had staff photographers. Freelancers would probably be less expensive and more widely available.

 

Why? It's Chicago. You have millions of citizens and hundreds of news locations on a daily basis. Having a staff is far simpler to delegate stories to than to have an on-call group of independent people who may or may not be ready.

post #15 of 184
And in other news, all Holywood directors and cinematographers have been fired. in their place, LA taxi cab drivers have been given iPhones, and 15 minutes of training, to shoot all future feature films. A Holywood studio executive stated, " who needs to spend all this money on artistic talent when any three year old with an iPhone can do this job".
post #16 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

 

Why? It's Chicago. You have millions of citizens and hundreds of news locations on a daily basis. Having a staff is far simpler to delegate stories to than to have an on-call group of independent people who may or may not be ready.

I don't know about photographers, but i think that in a lot of businesses, it's much cheaper to use freelancers instead of keeping people on staff. Then they are not officially employees of the company, the employer doesn't have to pay health insurance, unemployment benefits, various taxes and ends up saving the employer a bunch of cash.

post #17 of 184
This is depressing news.

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post #18 of 184

THIS is all Apple's doing!!!

 

 

(/S)

Android: pitting every phone company in the world against one, getting a higher number, and considering it a major achievement.
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post #19 of 184

Checking official newspaper versions of this story ... it sounds like about 30 full-time photographers are being laid off. The reason being given is not because iphones can replace professional cams. It is because they want to put more emphasis on online video.
 
Furthermore, this decision was taken during labor negotiations, suggesting that this could be a union-busting maneuver rather than a technology decision.
post #20 of 184
So now, the photography quality will more accurately match the reporting (in other words, s**t)
post #21 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

And in other news, all Holywood directors and cinematographers have been fired. in their place, LA taxi cab drivers have been given iPhones, and 15 minutes of training, to shoot all future feature films. A Holywood studio executive stated, " who needs to spend all this money on artistic talent when any three year old with an iPhone can do this job".

i dunno, given the quality of most of what comes out of hollywood these days i'm not sure i would be able to tell the difference ...
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post #22 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by StruckPaper View Post

This is a mistake for at least two reasons.

First, the ubiquity of smartphones is not the right reason to fire photographers because equipment is not what makes a professional photog. John White didn't win his Pulitzer because of his equipment (which is no better than that of other professional photogs). He also didn't win it because he knew the basics of how to use a camera. He won it because he is an artist and an artisan. He knew when to take a photograph, where to take it and how to take it. You cannot pass on such instincts in a basic training course.

Second, sports photography does require professional equipment. No smartphone can produce the spectacular shots typically shown on the front page of the sports section. The sensor, optics and speed are totally inadequate.

If this story accurately represents what Chicago Sun-Times is planning to do, it is not a decision about iPhonegraphy being good enough tools. It is a decision to forsake photography as an important tool.
Well said. Absolutely a moronic move! There appears to be no integrity left in the world of journalism, but it probably also says a lot about us as consumers. Of our mindless and endless stream of tweets, Facebook updates, and "reality" TV that are creating brain atrophy.
post #23 of 184

For some purposes an iPhone camera is fine. It can't take the place of all pro equipment obviously.

 

But forget the tech and the tools. The idea that a little "training" can make any old person the equivalent of an experienced professional photographer is absurd!

post #24 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

THIS is all Apple's doing!!!
(/S)

NYTimes title?: Popularity of iPhone Camera Results In Mass Layoff of Professional Photographers

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post #25 of 184

Sad for the photographers and sad for the newspapers. I really enjoy reading the morning paper. Prefer it over reading anything online. 

 

 

The USA Today iPhone App is OK...but it's a nightmare on the desktop. You can't watch a video without first watching a 30 adv. I've stopped watching them because they are so annoying. Pop Ads...ads inside slide shows, Ugh! :)

post #26 of 184

"everyone please stop moving, my iphone picture will be too blurry."
 

post #27 of 184

Maybe apple is trying to pull a Nokia. I can see it right now...

 

This newspaper's pictures where taken entirely with the Apple iPhone 5. In half of the pictures you will see the reflection of a high end nikon taking the photo.

post #28 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by jobsisgod View Post

Nothing sad here.  It just shows how iPhone's are also helping a struggling industry.  It's not like National Geographic just switched to photos taken by people with their iPhones.

Your description is a rather poor one. They are likely to see some drawbacks here. DSLRs have been good enough for the past decade or longer. The only difference is that the cost of good enough has come down over time. Some of the focal length/aperture combinations available there that allow these guys to deal with certain lighting situations and limits on proximity will be less of an issue with a DSLR even today. I suspect the goal is to use a combination of snapshots from people writing editorial content, whatever interns, and other submissions to cut costs. It does not mean it will be of the same quality or of a level of quality comparable to what they would get if their recently axed photographers all used their phones. They're just trying to hit the level of good enough to accompany an article on whatever story, which is something blogs have done for years. The quality from recent smartphones has just been amazing though.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I don't know about photographers, but i think that in a lot of businesses, it's much cheaper to use freelancers instead of keeping people on staff. Then they are not officially employees of the company, the employer doesn't have to pay health insurance, unemployment benefits, various taxes and ends up saving the employer a bunch of cash.


Photo agencies and publications used to call those stringers. Generally if you work freelance, you do have to charge more. This is because you have to pay your own social security tax up to cap in the form of self employment tax, your own health insurance at private insurance rates, and absorb the cost of dry periods. If they try to pay on the same basis used for staffers, it's not very sustainable and tends not to attract the best talent. There's also the abhorrent practice of "permalance" which you seem to have alluded to there, which is basically a full time job that pays via 1099. The IRS sometimes cracks down on those if employees are improperly classified as contractors.

post #29 of 184

The person who made the decision to fire the entire department of staff photographers is completely lacking in their knowledge of photography.

Complete and utter ignorance.

 

Cameras don't take pictures. People take pictures. And the quality of those pictures is dependent on the talent, skill and experience of the photographer.

 

Henri-Cartier Bresson could out shoot 99% of the world population with an iPhone, but even when equipped with the best DSLR on the planet, 99% of photographers could not accomplish what he could with the worst of equipment.

 

It's not about the gear. It's about who's taking the pictures.

 

 

But then again we now live is a world where unfortunately 'good enough' is the accepted norm. 

 

This is disgusting and a perfect example of corporate bottom line thinking at it's worst. It's thinking like this that is ruining the country.

post #30 of 184
Wow, that was stupid. iphone doesn't produce printable photos even at newspaper resolution. Let's get rid of all specialists, corporate murrika. Are they going to fire the website managers and make the reporters do the site management next (or the reverse)? Maybe fire everyone and make the corporate executives do the website, newspaper, photography, and reporting.
post #31 of 184
Mediocrity prevails!

It's hard to blame the newspaper executives for this decision. Most consumers of media would not be savvy enough to notice the difference. Though nothing beats the nearly-infinite flexibility of a pro DSLR camera with a good collection of lenses, the iPhone camera is "good enough" about 80% of the time. Obviously, depth of field and motion blur are nearly impossible to manipulate on a smartphone camera. It's sad to see the craft die off.

First, they came for the photographers....
Next, they'll come for the reporters...
Bloggers will take over for Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters soon enough.
post #32 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hank Carter View Post

The person who made the decision to fire the entire department of staff photographers is completely lacking in their knowledge of photography.

Complete and utter ignorance.

 

Cameras don't take pictures. People take pictures. And the quality of those pictures is dependent on the talent, skill and experience of the photographer.

 

Henri-Cartier Bresson could out shoot 99% of the world population with an iPhone, but even when equipped with the best DSLR on the planet, 99% of photographers could not accomplish what he could with the worst of equipment.

 

It's not about the gear. It's about who's taking the pictures.

 

 

But then again we now live is a world where unfortunately 'good enough' is the accepted norm. 

 

This is disgusting and a perfect example of corporate bottom line thinking at it's worst. It's thinking like this that is ruining the country.

I agree, but the problem is that these newspapers aren't generating enough profits due to the internet and our sources of news has changed.  Back 50 years ago, you had to read the newspaper, now we don't.  At least the generation growing up.

 

To me, I would rather them spend money on training their journalists to first find out about the industry they are covering and then ask better questions instead of the crap articles they spit out.

 

How many articles have your read where they didn't explain how, what, where, why, etc.?  We only get some fluff piece which ultimately ends up promoting something or someone without really understanding the situation.

 

I guess these photographers are going to have to get into commercial photography, which I know many of them might hate. Or they have to go into art photography which generally doesn't pay much.  I wish them well, and maybe the newspaper will hire them back when they realize the iPhone or any smartphone is not intended to replace a high end professional camera.


I can see training their journalists to take better photos when there isn't a photographer available, other than that I agree, it's dumb.

post #33 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by dysamoria View Post

Wow, that was stupid. iphone doesn't produce printable photos even at newspaper resolution. Let's get rid of all specialists, corporate murrika. Are they going to fire the website managers and make the reporters do the site management next (or the reverse)? Maybe fire everyone and make the corporate executives do the website, newspaper, photography, and reporting.

The iPhone doesn't take printable photos?

Ok.
post #34 of 184
I think this is a very interesting move, and will probably determine the future of printed media. None of us know anything about this newspaper's bottom line, or how much money they make versus how much they pay staff and Uncle Sam. I think it's interesting that they are thinking outside the box and doing something no other newspaper has done before. If they are trying to create an online presence, the phone may be good enough. If u owned the company and were losing a million dollars a year, i don't think you'd be trying to figure out a way to give photographers work. Industries are changing. Entire industries are turning upside down right now. You may say this is sad, but you might say its a good thing. This removes another wall between you and a professional photographer. Now anyone who owns an iPhone has everything you need to take a photo for this newspaper. Who knows, one day we may think dedicated cameras are a funny idea, and large cameras look old fashioned.
post #35 of 184
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post
This is stupid. Being a good photographer isn't just training. It's experience and creativity that's makes them shine. Just because you can take a pic of your cat doesn't make you a prof photog.

 

 

I tried to find one with an iPhone, but surprisingly there doesn't seem to be anyone stupid enough to let their cat near their iPhone. Or, rather, there probably are people like that out there, but the iPhone would be their only camera so they couldn't take the picture of the cat… 


Originally Posted by Hank Carter View Post

But then again we now live is a world where unfortunately 'good enough' is the accepted norm. This is disgusting and a perfect example of corporate bottom line thinking at it's worst. It's thinking like this that is ruining the country.

 

I agree with the first and third sentences, and the second out of the context of the other two.

post #36 of 184
This MUST have been some sort of desperate attempt to tighten budget. Not to take anything away from the iPhone's camera, but this nothing short of stupidity.
post #37 of 184

The device can immediately upload the image to the office fastest wins.  A photographer can do it with a wifi SD card and three minutes and it's kludgey.  The models I've seen with built in wifi modules are even less smooth to upload with.  Nothing like emailing it with one touch of the finger.  There's no quite equivalent in pro cameras that can beat a phone in that respect (that I know of, yet).

 

We'll crop it at the office.  He who posts online first wins.  Ten minutes later is a lose.

 

Any other better pix needed that can't be gotten at iPhone range they'll get from a service in one minute.

 

That and the labor busting thing, yeah.

post #38 of 184
Stupid bean-counters with no respect for other's profession and experience. They just assume they can put it on the reporters with a little training and save the salary of the photographers. Who cares about quality, more money in their pockets.
post #39 of 184

Wow. This is sad. 

 

Being a photographer is so much more than operating the equipment. 

post #40 of 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Why? It's Chicago. You have millions of citizens and hundreds of news locations on a daily basis. Having a staff is far simpler to delegate stories to than to have an on-call group of independent people who may or may not be ready.

That's not how it works. Many freelancers are out and about and go to where there's breaking news. They take pictures and turn them in, if any get used then they get paid.
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