Professional Photographers Denounce Reckless Statement of Yahoo! CEO

Associations representing professional photographers of all types today denounced the comments made this week by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, citing her words as reckless, bad for society, and shockingly out of touch with reality. On Tuesday, Mayer said,

“There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing, really, as a professional photographer.”

Mayer could not be more wrong, and her statement shows a lack of understanding that is difficult to comprehend from someone who is a supposed industry leader.

None of us would presume that purchasing a set of quality kitchen knives makes us a chef, or that owning a sports car makes us a racecar driver. And purchasing a top-notch camera does not miraculously endow the owner with the knowledge and experience needed to create professional-quality images. In reality, acquiring such skills takes years, even a lifetime.

Every day, professional photographers bring to bear their vast training and experience to capture the works of art that adorn our homes, galleries, publications and web sites. Their works become family heirlooms, emotional windows into our national psyche, and cultural icons.

Mayer’s statement is deeply troubling not only because it casually dismisses one of America’s profoundly unique industries, but also because of the mindset it betrays; that technology is king and there is no room or need for human creative talent. The demand for access to the great works of American creators drives the growth of the Internet and Internet companies like Yahoo!. We are shocked that someone of her stature could have such a lack of understanding about the industry in which she works – one from which she profits so handsomely.

As associations representing all facets of photography, we have encouraged industry growth and pro-actively promoted change and adaptation for over 145 years, but we will never support the notion that the camera alone makes the photographer. We recognize that that Ms. Mayer has attempted to acknowledge her misstatement on Twitter, but do not believe she has gone far enough to undue the potential damage of her statement. We urge her to be more aggressive in doing so. One tangible way she can start is to show she appreciates the value of photographers’ creative talent by implementing new tools on Yahoo’s network to reduce the unauthorized use of creators’ intellectual property.

This development should be troubling to all creators. We urge Yahoo! and its CEO to take meaningful measures that demonstrate their support of creators generally, and more specifically, the professional photographic community.


Professional Photographers of America


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