It’s probably fair to say that because of CGI, traditional studio photography will begin to fade away in the next couple of years. But to make great ‘photographic’ images, as with retouching, a healthy relationship between the CGI studio and photographer still needs to be a part of the image creation process. The role of the photographer is simply evolving, as is ours from just a retouching studio to a full creative production facility. Whilst we have a strong grasp of photographic technique, it’s preferable in many cases to also have a photographer’s eye looking over an image, as they can often help define the lighting and camera angles and spot errors that the untrained eye can’t always see.
So I am on the fence about this one. I was one of the first to call out the end of Photo Labs back in the 90's, but I don't know if photography will go away. I saud all the labs around will go away and there will be a few custom labs left around to do high end art stuff and thats it. Which is pretty much where we are at.
But this discussion about the death of photography we hear now is based on two fronts:
One, video is killing photography. Everything will be motion based and print is dead.
Two, CGI is killing photography. Why have shoot a product when you can just 3d render it.
Here is my main thought on both of these discussions. MONEY.
It all begins and ends with money. You think a retoucher is expensive and time consuming? Have a 3d model built and see what that runs. You think renting a studio for a still shoot is expensive? Add on all the hot lights and grips you need for a motion shoot. Plus sound and video editing. These are more expensive by factors of two all around. Don't forget that all of this take way more time to produce as well and time is money. You are not walking away from the shoot with a rough edit of the commercial to show the client the next day. That is weeks away. Same with 3d for any kind of decent rendering.
So I do not really see photography going away really. but on higher end shoots I see these other aspects being incorporated in the bag of tricks one uses to achieve a final goal. Video for "Harry Potter Newpaper-esque" loops on websites and 3d for incorporating impossible to achieve effects.