The Closing Of Brooks Institute Is Not A Statement About The Photography Market

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Photography has never been about how many professionals there are, and how or what they charge, where they went to school, how they learned, how hard or easy it is, how smart or stupid the successful ones are, what camera you use, or how many amateurs can look like or claim to be professionals. In every field of art, the people who put difficulty, practice, problem solving, commitment, learning, opportunity and service as the core to making a meaningful life will always find the answer. Looking into the masses of lawyers, accountants, guitarists, painters, plumbers, salespeople, teachers, drummers and photographers, and thinking that there are too many of this or that, or that it is easier to be one thing or another is just plain hysterical reaction to life. It isn’t easy to be alive in this world… it never has been… get over it.

Read more from Dennis Keeley on his Facebook page:

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There Are 7 Comments On This Article.

  1. Things have changed so much over the last 15 years for anyone in creative endeavors as many believe everything is free since you can grab it online. That’s the sad reality and the younger people replacing the older generation that understood people need to be paid for services don’t have the same reference points.

    Imagine, in the recent past if you needed an image for something you would call a stock photo agency. You talked to someone who took your information and then mailed or overnighted you a selection of transparencies in sleeves that you could select from. If you used them in any way you were supposed to pay a fee that was split somehow between the pic agency and image creator. Today, someone might copy a file they see online to produce something for client review as to concept or an actual final finished piece. No one likely knows who did it and no one is paid except the entity hosting the images and the “creative” that produced the piece. Who does that work for? Not the creative entity that originated the file that has been copied.

    Young creatives that consume visuals generally have little regard for paying creators fairly since they grew up with the “free” model.

    I think that the “get over it since life is hard” idea is fine as long as the players have a way to deal with rule infractions. Problem is that the big players have no reason to want rules with teeth that allow creative to be fairly paid.

    There are way too many people that think the road to wealth is being seen and that is just not the case… Unless your name is Kardashian or Jenner or whoever is the internet sensation of the minute.

  2. I totally disagree. Photography, like Graphic Design before it, has fallen from the realm of skilled professionals who used professional tools, into the reach of anyone who can afford an iPhone or a 5D. Sure the world still needs trained photographers, but creating images for brands is no longer the exclusive realm of professional photographers. Just look at the recent campaign for Apple. All or most of the photos are “user generated”. What does that tell you?

  3. “In every field of art, the people who put difficulty, practice, problem solving, commitment, learning, opportunity and service as the core to making a meaningful life will always find the answer.”

    So true, sir. So true!

  4. Clark Patrick

    Mr. Keeley’s comments seem founded and accurate in terms of how things fell apart with the school. And speak to the consequences of the schools closure. However, coming from a person who never actually made a living as a photographer you’re comment is not as grounded. Of course life isn’t easy. Dah. But, the closure of Brooks IS definitely a statement/reality in connection to the larger photography market. To say, “..and thinking that there are too many of this or that, or that it is easier to be one thing or another is just plain hysterical reaction to life.” – is also not founded in real economic reality. It’s not about ‘easier’ it’s about the simple economic reality of supply vs. demand. There are over 250,000 persons in the United States who pay their taxes identified as a ‘professional photographer’ – that is 5,000 photographers per state. How much work is available in the United States for that many ‘professional photographers’? It has nothing to do with people complaining about life not being easy…. photographers of all categories, styles, levels, abilities, etc. are simply delusional in thinking the larger world and/or marketplace has any place for them. People simply haven’t stepped back and done the math to find out that despite the fact they want to be a photographer it’s a very bad idea beyond a hobby. The world doesn’t need Brooks. It’s gone also in part because it’s not needed.

  5. In the 1970’s when I checked out photography schools Brooks looked behind the times then. I went to Art Center. Make no mistake, this is an indicator of the valuation of a photography eduction by Scott Kelby versus Art Center. The huge tuition at Art Center is no longer a smart investment for a young / future photographer unless your well endowed, some are, most are not.

  6. When I graduated from Brooks Institute in 1981 people still bought photo enlargements. Brides purchased leather albums with their names engraved. Paper proofs you could also sell. Babies, Bar Mitzfahs, Graduations, Business portraits . . . the market was limitless.
    Then digital came along. Everyone wanted a DVD with all of their images on it. No potential for reorders unless you charged $$$ up front. And in a relatively small city where you would only rely on 1.5% of the population to be your clients, the profit margin grew slimmer and slimmer. I remember reading last year that at the Banff, Alberta School of Fine Arts, judges did not receive a single entry in their annual photography contest that met their criteria; images taken with pre planning, careful thought, with a center of interest and using formal elements. All they received were thousands of selfies. Our photo business went from 20 employees down to 6 between 2001 and 2006. Today we chug along with 2 employees but the only reason people hire us is because we still provide a service to schools – gowning, hooding, holding a diploma, with the flag behind you. I am certainly glad I found a second income when I saw it coming.