If anything is the antithesis of Instagram it’s Mary Ellen Mark carrying a 400 pound Polaroid 20×24 Land Camera into your prom to make a picture. And, if anything separates professional photographers from the pack it’s a book like Prom: a collection of 137 portraits from 13 schools across the country, shot between 2006 and 2009 that includes a documentary produced by Mark’s husband, Martin Bell (story on NPR: Not Your Average Prom Portraits).
But, I think professionals are doing their audience a disservice by not figuring out a way to incorporate the millions of images available online into projects of this scope. Whether it’s some kind of curation, software automated mining or public participation, ignoring that resource is a mistake. This is a wonderful and unknown time for photography, everyone should consider ways to harness and make sense of all that noise.