This morning I read in the Mexican newspaper, Reforma that
the Chinese government just announced the construction of a
new automobile factory in Mexico. This is at a time that other
car manufacturers, the world over, are falling apart.
What this tells me is that the misfortunes of some does
not need to be the same for everyone else. In fact the
Chinese economy is growing, notwithstanding the reduction
of their own export market to the rest of the world, and
they are doing so at a pace of around 6.5% of GDP (Gross
Domestic Product) by stimulating their own internal markets.
There is one fundamental difference to what is happening
in the rest of the world: their stimulus packages are financed
from within, with their own reserves, whilst the US is
financed mainly by the Chinese.
make a projection on to the future, and consider that
when the worldwide recession comes to an end, the Chinese
will not only have grown considerably more than the West,
but will not have any substantial debt to deal with.
Much of the western nations will have to slowly pay back
their accumulated debt, and to work down the reduction
of their huge deficits, which will take at least a decade
to resolve. I will call this the "lost decade" (lost
to the Chinese, of course).
I recall when the digital era just started, and we were
working with Photoshop 1 and 2, I had a colleague who for
some time had been making my contact sheets. This was just
at the end of the analog era, and the beginning of the
technological changes related to a change of paradigm in
photography. Jonathan Reff, started a business as a consultant
to photographers who wanted to learn about all the new
tools of the digital era. Among them was one photographer
who was probably at the time the most important photographer
to the auto industry.
His pictures were legend, in so far as all the efforts
that went into making the perfect picture at the right
time during the sunset overlooking, for instance the Pacific
Ocean from Malibu beach. The fees for such pictures would
run into the triple digits. The images were made with 8
x 10 view cameras using of course film. The production
of such images required a field of assitants, lights, and
a slew of cars, like a big Hollywood production.
Jonathan would suggest to this photographer that he should
start looking into the digital age and how the production
of the images for which he was so well known, and for which
he almost had a monopoly in taking such specialty pictures,
could be made much more efficiently. Unfortunately, he
felt he did not need to bother, that what he was doing
could not be done any better, thus he only paid marginal
attention to Jonathans' recommendations.
He simply forgot that there were a lot of other photographers
who were keen to exploit this opportunity, and offer the
same images for a third of the price, because they knew
how to do it. Jonathan's client unfortunately never followed
through on his recommendations, until it was too late.
He lost the business and subsequently went broke. This
happened in the early nineties.
Interestingly enough, two of the clients of this photographer
were General Motors, and Chrysler. They in turn never got
the message either, and produced cars much as this photographer
made his pictures. Huge production expenses, and no sense
for the changes that required a new vision.
I bring up some of these issues, because all too many
photography schools in the world, are still preparing future
photographers with the technologies of the analog era.
I don't have any problem what so ever with people having
a preference for old methods of production, provided that
they are actually aware that they will not be able to compete
in the marketplace. But if you are going to school to learn
about preparing yourself for the future to make a living,
you better be aware that the world is changing as you read
Yes, photography is not only utilitarian, but a tool for
artistic expression as well, or vice versa. But even the
most recalcitrant of colleagues who sees him or herself
solely in artistic terms and sees the world in a very traditionalist
way, will have to acknowledge that the distribution of
their work will inevitably be linked at some point in time,
with the new technologies with which to distribute, or
even produce some of their work. Even people who do finger-painting,
can be found to use the internet to show off their creations.
The "lost decade",
does not need to happen to you.
Mexico City, Coyoacán