PaaS: photography as a service


The age of the camera is slowly coming to an end – above all the bulky DSLR and all the associated declinations. In a very short time, only those annoying in-object cameras, like those in our cell phones, and a query type field in our browser will be left.

The end of the analog

Bulky large cameras have a legacy deeply ingrained in the physical world. They are designed to mechanically create images for physical media. This analog world disappears. Even now, not only are all pictures digital, but they end up – the vast majority – in digital media. And as with everything in the digital world, there is a tendency to lose size and increase in power at the same time (Moore’s Law).

Yes, the next cover of Fashion Magazine is shot with the latest Hasselblad, even if it has a digital back. And yes, there is so much better quality of light penetrating the frame of a full-size Leitz lens than those three circles on the back of the latest iPhone. But how long?

File sizes no longer matter. It is only a matter of time before all the printed publications received become an addition to their online mother ship, Fashion included. Billboards are also becoming as good as digital. The need for large, bulky files can now be easily met by upscaling. Computed photography is the norm today, and the skills required to operate a DSLR are now being replaced by AI. An iPhone / Galaxy and its successor can and will soon surpass any bulky DSLR.

Cameras everywhere

In addition to the proliferation of our portable computer cameras, almost every device in our life will contribute to the creation of photographs. In order to monitor themselves and their surroundings, visual data acquisition interfaces are slowly creeping into our lives. Doorbells have cameras, cars, and high-end fridges already have some, while others, like automatic vacuums or lamps, will soon have some.

Soon our entire surroundings will be photographing every moment of our lives. Instead of actually taking photos at our next birthday party, we can ask the fridge or lamp to share some of the shots. Nothing is missed.

With a simple voice command, everyone can create a perfect picture. Photo by cottonbro / Pexels.

Introduction of PaaS

As for professional content? Replaced with a simple query type field. Type in what type of image you need and hit enter. An AI creates the picture for you. A photo of a couple holding hands on the beach at sunset, no problem. A photo of Alexander the Great playing chess with Napoleon on the deck of the Mayflower. Piece of cake. And yes, the next cover of Fashion also magazine. Introduction of PaaS: photography as a service.

Due to the computing power and software engineering expertise required, the first iterations of PaaS will be carried out by a handful of companies that offer this service via a web interface. But at some point, like everything digital, it will be integrated into our cell phones or any other device that we carry with us.

Need a photo of a butterfly on a red rose for your Instagram feed? No problem. Tell your Siri / Google and there you go.

Advantages? What are the advantages?

How about news or wedding photography? Surely they still need battle-tested professionals in dealing with bulky DSLRs? Yes and no. The proliferation of cameras everywhere combined with an accelerated news cycle and reduced budget make the future of photojournalism extremely precarious.

Even without these replacement technologies in full use, it becomes an extreme challenge for anyone to make a living as a news photographer. Already now the local with the mobile phone trumps the professional with the heavy device. There is no great future here.

As far as wedding photographers are concerned, of course. You could survive with a few portraits before the ceremony and outsmart guests with cell phones. But in not so long ago, a PaaS with two headshots of the couple and a command to create a gorgeous wedding portrait is going to make some much better photos than anything a professional could do. As for the ceremony, some cameras with the best scene recognition by AI can’t deliver anything.

With PaaS, the creative process is no longer controlled by those who have mastered the tools of the trade such as a camera or Photoshop, but by the most creative minds. Imagination becomes the best ability.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.

About the author: Paul Melcher is a New York-based photography and technology entrepreneur and founder of Kaptur, a news magazine about the visual tech space. You can find more of his writings on his Bohemian Thoughts blog. Melcher also offers its services as a consultant. This article was also published here.

Credit: Header photo by Brett Sayles / Pexels

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