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Standing out in a sea of selfies

Updated: Dec. 5, 2019 at 12:47 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It's the sort of job cuts you don't hear about. The federal government says the work for professional photographer is going to decline by 6 percent over the next decade.

"It used to be photography was magic," said Gary Burns, the owner of Burns Photography & Formal Wear in Watertown.

He's a second generation professional photographer in a world of smart phone cameras and selfies.

"Now it's just pictures aren't as important anymore. People are so used to doing selfies. They're constantly being photographed by themselves or by their friends, so it's lost a lot of it's importance," he said.

Burns’ father started the business when it had black and white dark rooms and color printing. The business had several employees in its prime. Now it’s just Burns and his digital cameras shooting portraits and events, competing with anyone who has a camera.

"I'll talk to a lot of people - 'Well ,I had my friend do it or I've got the iPhone. We took some quick pictures for Christmas cards.' They're not really that good, but they're good enough," he said.

In order to keep his business alive, he says he relies more on corporate photos now.

Jim Naklick and his wife, Kathy, own Creative Imaging in Pierrepont Manor. He says he has similar challenges.

"It's difficult because everyone's a photographer now," he said. "Before it took a certain amount of knowledge and skill to be a photographer now it's just go buy a camera and shoot away."

Burns and Naklick say it's tough to make a living these days and Burns plans to slow business down soon. But both say it's worth doing every day.

“When I started, my father says this is a great business you’re never going to get rich at it but you’re going to enjoy going to work every day and I have. It’s been great,” said Burns.

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