This is my take on the future of photography - not 1 year from now - but rather what I think will take off 5-8 years from now.
As I have stated before, art is essentially a result of an artist’s need to communicate his/her internal thoughts or feelings to an audience. It does not matter which medium is used, as long as the medium is able to communicate efficiently and effectively.
The barrier to entry for such a form of communications depends on mastery of the medium. Mastery of a particular medium takes time and practice. Mastering a medium or a skill results in a craftsman - a person who is technically proficient in his/her craft. When the craftsman imbues his/her work with his own feelings, thoughts - that is when an artist is born.
Every human has a need for communications, which means everyone of us, in some way or another (to varying degrees) want to be an artist. And the role of technology/science has in such a process is to lower the barrier that we have to create a work of art - which expresses our inner state.
What’s this got to do with photography? Photography had a problem with acceptance as an art form, because there has always been an emphasis on the mastery of a skill prior to the creation of art. People were uncomfortable with calling photographs art because the whole process seemed to take so much less time than, say, a sculpture or painting. But yet, photography is now being accepted as an art form, because people realise that certain photographers could convey their messages effectively with such a medium, instantaneous though it may seem.
And that’s the underlying nature of art - the conveyance of the artist’s message. If technology allows the mastery of a medium to become easier over time - to allow edits to mistakes to be made, to allow shorter time intervals between creation of art work - it does not necessarily mean that the quality of art will decrease over time. But rather, it simply means that there will be
1. More artists than ever - because people now find that self expression is easier than ever before
2. More art will be produced - perhaps more lousy art will appear, but also more good art will appear as well!
The democratization of photography also means that as equipment become easier to use, and as post processing becomes easier, more people will be able to express themselves using this medium. I believe that tablets may play a role in the democratization of drawing and painting as well.
The future of photography (equipment wise), I believe, lies in miniaturization, and likely the emergence of a different form of image capture - especially light field capture (see Lytro). The Lytro concept captures light fields instead of light rays falling on a single plane. Basically, in a relatively small package, the user can focus after they make the image, and can even control the depth of focus after the fact. This is essentially eliminating a crucial technical step in the mastery of photography - which takes much time to master (even with auto focus!).
If the Lytro technology can achieve DSLR full frame quality, and do so without the need for changing lenses and in a smaller package, then the current crop of “professional” cameras will probably go the way of dinosaurs.
This is because the human need for communications has been present ever since the first human drew a cave painting. And to people, the faster/easier the medium lets us express ourselves, all the better it is.
*Of course, the lowering of the barrier to enter art does not mean that being an artist has become easier - it just means that the process is more efficient and the artist has more time to focus on his message, theme and authenticity.