Yahoo! CEO: No Room for Pros

Where technology, information, and passion intersect—that’s ground zero for the do-it-yourselfer.

With a word processor—heck, with voice recognition software—and crowdsourced tips on how to use it, a wannabe writer can ditch the adjective. With a camera and a series of step-by-step blog posts, a would-be videographer can become a Vine artiste.

There’s a lot of great things to be said about these passionistas who write, take photos, make videos, and create fun, interesting, informative work. Professional writers, photographers, video producers, and other creators can take inspiration from their compadres’ creativity—and enthusiasm.

But Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer took it a little far when she spoke about the ways Flickr will become “awesome again.” In addition to some big perks—a free terabyte of storage for members—Mayer announced that Flickr Pro, which allowed users to pay for more storage space, was being eliminated. Not because all users are going to have access to a TB of storage space, though. And not because no additional storage space is available (it is; users can get another TB for $499 annually).

“There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because,” Mayer explained, since so many people take photos nowadays, “there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers anymore.”

Guess those 25,000 members of the Professional Photographers Association should take their dues and spend the cash elsewhere. Perhaps on additional Flickr storage.

Like people who believe that, since they can post a link to a funny cat video on their Facebook page, they have the knowledge and experience to land a Social Media Manager position—or like those people during the early weeks of “American Idol” auditions who, since they sound awesome singing in the fine acoustic environment of the shower, believe they are undiscovered pop stars—Mayer seems to confuse the ability to use a tool with the ability to create an expert final product. Flicking an iPhone screen is not precisely the equivalent of selecting lenses, aperture, and shutter speed to create a particular photographic effect. Writing a grocery list is not precisely preparation for writing a best-selling novel. (I mean, I have a basketball, but even with injuries, I’m pretty sure Kobe Bryant could still beat me at HORSE.)

“Meyer’s comment reflects a growing misunderstanding,” writes one photographer—er, professional photographer—on another pro photographer’s Facebook page.

“The means for making pictures is technical, but the camera is a useless implement in the hands of someone who lacks the basic knowledge required to [intentionally] make great pictures to order.”

Or, as Ben Collins-Sussman concisely puts it,  “Someone who shoots and hopes is taking a picture; someone who deliberately mixes art and science is making a picture.”

And to that we’d add: Despite what you seem to think, Marissa, professionals are not obsolete yet. Exprts will endure… no matter how awesome Flickr is.

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