Yes, digital photography is dead in the water IF 'photography' is taken out of digital photography. As Kodak's brownie box camera and their Instamatic brought photography to the masses in the 20th century, so the digital camera has done the same in the 21st. But, once the 'ability to take photos novelty' wears off, the lack of skills will relegate the digital camera to the hobby drawer.
There is a principle in management science that says in business a person is promoted to the level of their own incompetence and no further. It's called the 'Peter Principle' formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter in his book of the same name. After that they stagnate and can only move sideways. This is true for photography also. Once you reach your level of incompetence or maximum ability, there you sit. It's at this point the interest wanes and your camera outings become more and more infrequent. In other words, another death of digital photography.
There will always be the hardliners in any field who will continue to practise to the level of their incompetence, but, the average Joe who was once excited by digital photography is no more. The enthusiast has lost his enthusiasm.
So what's the answer to the problem? The focus, as in any hobby or pastime, is a continual learning process. In the business world we call it upskilling. Adding competency and qualifications to your existing tool bag will keep you moving up the ladder of promotion. It is the same with photography. Learning is imperative.
Most of us are at some stage dissatisfied with our photos. They don't quite look like those in the glossy magazines and daily newspapers. What is it that they have that rest don't? They've learnt the techniques and disciplines of photography and have applied them on a continual learning journey to great photos.
A hobby, as with any plant or animal, has to be nurtured if it is to show any signs of growth. Buying a digital camera with the sole purpose of just snapping away without the high costs of film, will on most occasions result in the death of digital photography. If your digital photography is going to flourish it will need three key ingredients:
As with anything of value in life time is a key ingredient to its success. Unless you take the time to invest in any venture you will probably reap an equivalent reward. Garbage in garbage out. No pain no gain as the old adage goes. There is no instant photography.
Unless you are enthusiastic about a hobby or pastime it is inevitable that it will gradually diminish with time and eventually fizzle out. I speak from experience. Developing your passion is essential to growth. Passion is the fuel that fires your hobby.
Some are born with natural ability but for most of us we have to work at it. Practise makes perfect. If you don't have ability then acquire it in whatever way you legally can. Acquiring ability is a process and for many of us a journey of discovery. Something we have to work at.
Take any of these three points out of digital photography and its demise is well on the way. But, the key point is photography. Learning photography and acquiring creative photography skills will nurture digital photography and keep it alive.
Photography is not governed by the medium it uses, digital, film, pinhole or Polaroid. Photography stands alone and independent of the tools or media. As with beauty it's in the eye of the beholder. It is not contained in a box, a camera or digital sensor. Its results can be seen on a computer, t-shirt or magazine.
Digital photography is the answer to photography because of its ease of use, methods of distribution and costs. But take photography out of digital and it will result in the death of digital photography.