The Death of the Photo Studio

Sai Krishna V. K
14 min readJul 28, 2020

How GPT-3, your smartphone and Augmented Reality can disrupt a dinosaur industry.

We all love a good picture. The history of photographic studios and photography dates back to 19th century with the first camera. The earliest photographic studios made use of painters’ lighting techniques to create portraits. In my country, generations of Indians would assemble under the studio lights to get that perfect family portrait. We have come a staggering distance since then.

Source: Dribbble

Today, these photo studios that were responsible for many families and their portraits, have all but disappeared. Aspiring models, commerce catalogues and even the largest of families that would step in for passport photographs to head west have all but dried up entirely. Ironically, we click more photos than ever and share these photographs more often than in any previous moment of history.

Back from my part of India, a photoshoot was ritualistically with a virtual background, before Zoom made it cool.

The disruption of the industry is hardly a surprise given the changes in technology over the last decade. There are two distinct phases to this shift.

Phase 1: The best camera is the one available in your pocket

When the iPhone launched with a camera, and every other manufacturer followed; these small sensors were useful but limited in their ability to produce quality images. Applications such as Instagram in it’s early days compensated for the lack of image quality with filters, that made the app wildly popular. However, the velocity of improvement in the cameras in a smartphone since Instagram’s early days has been tremendous. What made the app popular in the early days is no longer a much used feature, as photos taken on your smartphone have become exponentially higher quality.

Most photo studios that opened to cater to customers in a pre-digital India are on borrowed time. Globally, these studios now dwindle in numbers. A photo studio in the age of selfies is fated to be a business where the act of looking and the act of clicking is geared towards a single outcome — how to get a photograph out for the customer with the click of a button and the speed of a file download on a computer. But…

Sai Krishna V. K

I write about possibilities in the Metaverse & productivity in the Meatverse ♦︎ Founder, Scapic (acquired by Flipkart)