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  • Scott Downing

2020 Vision

Updated: Feb 14

Did anyone else see or feel something odd in the palindrome of the date 0202/2020 last week? ​ It wasn’t just important to mathematicians, book nerds, and numerologists, but also in the fact that it only occurs about every 900 years, though it came and went without much notice by some. ​ A decade or two ago, it looked like such an odd number that seemed entirely impossible to comprehend… distant, and something more synonymous with a science fiction novel. ​ I remember the dreams, the hopes, the wonder of what I thought 2020 would look like when I was a kid. ​ No, we are not living in space or flying around our cities in flying saucers (yet) but suddenly, here we are.​⁣

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On that Sunday, I was still finalizing images I had recently shot for a new client called Symbiosis Healthcare. Each time I collaborate on a photography project, I feel it is important to do some research and to glean a more insightful understanding of the branding and ultimate goals of our clients. With the founders being doctors who were frustrated with the broken healthcare system, they are embarking on an innovative journey with new solutions and efficiencies to make a difference. ​ They have diversified to combine services, including medical staffing and event safety, urgent care, ambulance transportation, and telemedicine. The word ‘symbiosis’, itself, is defined as “a close relationship between two different things or people that is mutually beneficial.” ​ Along with their motto of “Care Reimagined,” both of these themes really punctuated and echoed much of my own goals and aspirations in my own relationships and career.​⁣

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With the first month of 2020 behind us, I’ve been reflecting on all the things that have changed in our industry since my early daydreams and how I, too, have diversified. ​ Having spent so much time as a student in the darkness of photo labs at Art Center, I remember being mostly concerned about temperature tolerances, the shelf life of film, and the expense of photo equipment and supplies in general. ​ It is truly remarkable to consider the technological and media advances we have witnessed in such a short time. ​ Many thought photographic film could never be replaced and become obsolete so rapidly by digital pixels captured in the ‘ether.’ ​ Even as we found ourselves transitioning to only shooting background plates for automotive advertising with NO CARS, we didn’t even receive our first CGI renderings of the vehicle and composited image for almost six months. ​ In my earlier years in photography, we would spend all day setting up, composing, and executing a single hero image, whereas we now have projects in which we are shooting assets exceeding hundreds of images in a single shoot session and trying to squeeze as much out of our day as possible. A little $50 CF or SD memory card now takes place of infinite rolls or sheets of film and photo processing (as well as processing and turnaround time). ​ We have vast collections of software, overlays, presets, workflow strategies, composite layers and tools at our fingertips to instantly extract an image from the camera and create any look we want with one simple click. ​ If you don’t know how to achieve that creative flavor you’re looking for, “just Google it!” ​ The internet, subscription services, and YouTube are overflowing with resources, information, and tutorials for just about anything under the sun. ​ As contemporary photographers in the digital age, we are now often tasked with wearing the additional hats of producer, creative director, graphic artist, retoucher, and even videographer. ​ The new norm is that we spend more time at the keyboard than we do behind the camera. ​ Talk about “reimagined!” ​ We can even transfer our files around the world in nanoseconds and outsource retouching, editing, and deliver to our clients without having met or having had an actual conversation with anyone in the supply chain. The lightning speed and demands of social and electronic media have made it more essential to adapt and hone our skills and technique while constantly researching and exploring new ones and necessarily embracing the quest for efficiencies.​⁣

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Reflecting on all that has emerged and changed in photography, marketing, advertising and communication, I still find kindness, integrity, humanity, and authenticity to be constant and compelling values for which there are no replacements, international substitutes, or upgrades. ​ As I continue refining my 2020 vision, my core ambition is the desire to discover greater senses of purpose from my work, to convert networking opportunities into friendships, and to cultivate lasting personal connections that compliment, energize, and elevate each relationship we can further enrich… in a symbiosis reimagined.​⁣














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