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Glazer's Camera

In Search of the Next Indiana Jones

Randy Woods, Editor of PhotoMedia Magazine Randy Woods, Editor of PhotoMedia Magazine

It's hard to believe more than 11 years have passed since I first met Gary Halpern and began editing and writing for PhotoMedia . Though I've never been a professional photographer, I've always been drawn to the exquisitely composed image. I was raised on the impeccable photography of magazines such as National Geographic and old issues of Life, which both inspired me to take some darkroom courses and experiment with black-and-white printing.

But for me, the calling of the written word has been much stronger. Today I am happy today to continue writing about how photographers create their magic in an increasingly overcrowded field. Over the years, I have made many fond memories of speaking with some of the world's greatest photographers as they share with us the secrets of their success.

I recall chatting several times with celebrity photographer Greg Gorman as he told tales of his exciting Hollywood lifestyle, each time calling me from the backseat of a different limo, heading to yet another party. I had the chance to meeting such luminaries as David Doubilet and Art Wolfe at the PhotoMedia -sponsored World in Focus event in 2003, as they discussed the technical aspects of their stunning nature photography. I spent hours listening to the swashbuckling stories of Peter B. Kaplan, who has made a career out of photographing from the top of virtually every tall structure in the world (not always with nofficial permission). And then there's aerial photographer George Steinmetz, who regularly finds the wildest, most remote places on earth and soars above them in little more than a motorized parachute, giving us a spectacular new perspective on the landscape.

It's probably the closest I'll ever get to living like Indiana Jones.

There have been some emotional aspects as well. One of the most moving stories I worked on was our coverage of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated so much of Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. My interview with Jon Warren, photo director of charitable organization World Vision, and his vivid description of the carnage he saw in the city of Banda Aceh still haunts me today—a feeling that was revived after the tsunami in Japan earlier this year. Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Loomis also graced these pages with the tragic images of Afghanis who had lost limbs to explosive devices in the last decade of intense fighting in that country.

However, as reflected in our Industry News section this month, the photography industry is not all about heroic, well-funded individuals pushing the boundaries of image-making. Indeed, the industry is at a serious crossroads. Many photographers are moving from still images to video production as demand for moving images continues to rise. Advances in camera technology and photo-sharing sites have made it easier for amateurs to enter the photography market, while the consolidation of the stock industry is making it harder than ever for pro shooters to earn a living.

The news that Instagram, an application that allows users to add dozens of artistic digital filters to their images and share them with friends, was purchased by Facebook for a staggering sum of close to $1 billion should give pause to anyone who applies painstaking postproduction work to create images for a living. Are we at the point in the photo production business where anyone can just say “there's an app for that” and click on an icon? Meanwhile, the steady march of agency consolidation continues with Getty's distribution agreements with Lonely Planet, PR Newswire and Paris Match.

We, too, are at a crossroads. As we enter our 25th year of publishing, PhotoMedia is poised to make some great changes to keep up with the rapidly changing photography business. Although we've mostly covered photographers in the Western U.S., we are now branching out nationwide to give readers a broader perspective. Our new-look website, PhotoMedia online.com, has recently been upgraded to provide newer content, an improved user interface and a comprehensive calendar function to keep you up to date on all of the latest photography exhibits and workshops.

For our next 25 years, we at PhotoMedia will continue to bring you the work of the very best visual artists in the business, but new and established. At the same time, we will also redouble our efforts to provide you tips and information about how to maintain photography as a viable profession. It will be a tough challenge, but after hearing the exploits of the dozens of Indiana Jonses I've met in the last decade, I'm sure it's a challenge we can all overcome.

Randy Woods
Story Author: Randy Woods

Randy Woods, editor of PhotoMedia, has been in the magazine publishing world for more than 20 years, covering such varied topics as photography, insurance, business startups, environmental issues and newspaper publishing. He is also associate editor for iSixSigma magazine and writes a job—search blog for The Seattle Times called “Hire Ground.”

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