Trading Card Value Print Project Proposal

As a beginner sports photographer myself, I have an increased interest in the values of the business and its overall productivity in today’s society. Taking the development of digital photography into perspective, I would like to further explore the decline of professional photographers and the value of their pictures, especially in regards to trading cards. Over the course of the past decade or so, history has seen a large decline in both the demand and value of trading cards as a collectible commodity, as seen in Mint Condition. As a direct result of this decline, professional photographers have struggled to continue making a profit off the pictures they take.

While exploring this decline in value, I would like to explore several different options, the first of which would be the amateur’s accessibility to affordable, well-designed cameras. This being in perspective, the development of amateur photography has skyrocketed in recent years, as well as the accessibility of the amateur photographs. Not only have the amateurs become more competitive with their cameras themselves, but they now have accessibility to open forum websites that allow for users to post pictures up for free in a sharing-platform concept. Using sites such as Photobucket, Flickr, and Picasa, amateur photographers have memory space to post tons of pictures of their famous athletes. Because of the open platform that these sites are based upon, other users can easily search “tagged” items and look up their favorite athletes. I would argue that this in and of itself is a driving cause towards the decline in trading card value.

For my project, I would like to continue to explore the concept of these websites and their effect upon those who take pictures as a profession. I have a particular photographer in mind, Mitchell Layton, whom I have recently been in contact with, who I think would be wonderful to interview in order to gain a first-hand perspective on the decline of the business and problems that photographers now face. I am curious to find out just how much a photographer makes per photograph now, as compared to years ago during the business boom.

Ikon Photography and Getty Images and companies such as this run on the same concept—a large company contracting several “smaller” workers. Because of the access online of “copyrighted” material, I wonder what the photographers can do to make sure that their work cannot be stolen from a website, to ensure maximum profit. Additionally, I think an exploration into downtown collectible shops would be advisable for my paper. Because I come from a journalistic background, I find that creating a written “story” off of interviews would be in my best interest. At the same time, I would like to admit that I’m having trouble finding scholarly sources about collectibles and their worth over the years, but a re-searching of the university’s databases might improve my confidence in that area. Because of a suggestion of reading Mint Condition, I will explore my reading options with that book, but I would like to gain some background knowledge via books on collecting that I know will be accessible to me.

With all of this in mind, I would also like to contribute the advancement of video resources to a portion of my paper. On several occasions, I have been warned to get a solid background in film knowledge, as well as my knowledge in photography so that I can be more marketable to companies outside of college. Taking their advice, I enrolled in the Film and Media Studies program in the School of Communications, but I would like to talk to a few of the professors in the film department, especially in the area of sports, who might be able to help me pinpoint exactly why the business is turning in the direction it is. Using this interview, I would like to compare and contrast the mindset of the photographers and the mindset of the videographers when it comes to sports and the recording of the events.

While my total goal of the paper is to explore why the accessibility of amateur digital photos has led to a decline in value of trading cards, I think an exploration of the difficulties of the photographers and companies and creating profit from a struggling business will lead to an overall satisfaction of my curiosity on the subject.

One Reply to “Trading Card Value Print Project Proposal”

  1. This is an interesting topic. If you do decide to follow through on this as your project I would encourage you to step away from charting the value of baseball cards over time and push you to think more about the history of collecting the cards more generally.

    Doing interviews is a great idea. In history this approach is often referred to as oral history. To that extent, you might think about interviewing baseball enthusiasts at different ages about how they engaged with the sport. I guess the question here could become is there something that has replaced baseball cards for young fans?

    To this end there is also a fair amount of work in sports history, the history of recreation, and the history of collecting more broadly.

    Now your interest in photo journalism might also touch on some ideas that Clay Shirky has been grappling with in his recent work, I am specifically thinking about his book Cognitive Surplus.

    If you plan to go forward with this as your project we should plan on making some time to talk through some of these ideas. You have a really neat topic I just want to make sure you have a clear plan forward. Keep up the good work.

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