Story by Joseph Ford CottoJoseph Ford Cotto: Less than a decade ago, professional photographers were far more in demand than they are now -- whether they provided services for news organizations or birthday parties. In a nutshell, what happened?
Photography is an art unlike any other. There is something profound to be said about capturing a single moment in time and preserving it for countless more.Allan Warren has experience with this the likes of which most of us can hardly imagine. Beginning his career while still a teenager, he has photographed royalty, movie stars, playwrights, singers, and far too many other personalities to mention.Of course, I will drop a few names: Dionne Warwick, Prince Charles, Roger Moore, Christopher Isherwood, Barbra Streisand, Prince Philip, King Constantine of Greece, Cary Grant, Debbie Reynolds, David Niven, and the list goes on. Check it out for yourself here.While Warren is most famous for his photography, his career is far more diverse than some might think. Over the years, he has written books, plays, and, interestingly enough, started out as an actor.In 2012, I asked Warren what the greatest reward of his career was."Independence and never having to leave one’s home to earn a living," he responded.Warren had something else to say: "I think the age of portrait photographers, earning a living from photographing people, is over. The other day a friend of mine snapped a portrait of an actor with an iPhone and it was by far a better picture than I could have take with all my so-called professional camera and lights."Sobering news indeed from a man who made his career behind the camera -- with notable names standing in front of it and paying for the privilege. Nonetheless, Warren still has much wisdom to impart. He recently spoke with me in a wide-ranging conversation. Some of it is included below.****
Allan Warren: That is not necessarily true. Newspapers in the main still rely on professional photographers whether they be paparazzi outside a nightclub, or photo journalists in war zones or wherever. I think as far as birthday parties and the like people prefer not to have the intrusion of a stranger snapping away. Especially as nowadays everyone has a camera or sorts to record the event.
Cotto: Insofar as event photography is concerned (birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, commemorative gatherings), people are far more apt to take their own pictures -- or not take pictures at all -- than to hire a photographer. Is this borne out of a newfound frugality, a belief that pedestrian photography is no worse than professional work, or maybe something else entirely?
Warren: In many cases people just don’t have the money to pay for professional wedding photographers, whose fees these days are often prohibitive. Which is probably due to the slow demise of the official wedding photographer. Also these days photography has become second nature to most. Whether its your granny taking ‘not to bad’ photo of her cruise, or your children sending portraits of themselves, lunching, dining or dancing or even making love.
As far as weddings go, nowadays people often turn to their relations and guests to cover the great day. Surprisingly in many cases, or maybe it is not so surprising, the results have turned out just as good, sometimes even better than the professional wedding photographer could have achieved. This is due in part to so many people all snapping away at the same time that there are hundreds of shots to choose from. Even if they are working on smaller format cameras or smart phones, the quality is good enough for a treasured album or a framed photo for the mantelpiece. Their results are often not too dissimilar to the professional.
As good shots are captured in just a moment in time, in just a click of the shutter or the pressing of a button. Whether they be amateur or professional, they both need an element of luck, when it comes to capturing that moment. That can be the luck of the light falling on the subjects, in just in the right way. Perhaps dappling on the bride's hair, or backlighting the bride's gown, giving a soft, radiant translucent effect. Or when happy couple are caught off guard and relaxed, not realising the cameras are still on them, while looking lovingly into each others eyes. It is in that one moment that the shot is achieved and the winning picture is taken.