Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28, 2013

"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between this profusion of matter and the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness." Andr'e Malraux's Les Noyers de l'Altenburg
We all seem to know and understand what photography is.  Robert Frank wrote, " Mass production of uninspired photojournalism and photography without thought becomes anonymous merchandise.  The air becomes infected with the "smell" of photography".
Photography is now a commodity to be bought and sold from the lowest common denominator, free.  When someone contacts me now from the many sites I have my images on, they will invariably ask me if I would "let" them use my image for a project they are working on.  They will then give me the hard luck story that they are a non-profit organization and have meager funds and will not be able to pay for the image usage.
 I could ask them how much are they being paid for their services at this non-profit organization, but really, why bother.  Everyone knows and understands that photography is cheap, it is plentiful and it can be given away for free.  I am always respectful and grateful that in their search on the web one of my images interested them.  I always send back a license fee for the usage they want and rarely do they accept the charges.
 How low will photographers go to make a sale?  Given the pervasive quantity of images in the photo market cage arena, we have hit bottom, they will give away I presume, their hard fought efforts to create a meaningful image, for nothing.   
Images are easy to create if you don't have a thought, a purpose behind the shutter release.  What will it take to enlighten image creators that a lack of finance undermines inspiration, and to maintain a creative economy we need to stop the incessant saturation of laissez faire image making. In other words, the combining of consumer generated content will continue the degradation of intentful image creation pricing.
Why go to all the trouble to fight for an image, making sure we have delved into the subject and have exhausted all possible emotions, to find that your return on your effort is nothing.  What is the incentive to work at your craft if everyone else is undermining the very foundation of economic value, a worth measured in an acceptable price for your efforts?  What happens when the lemmings follow the gurus of the industry and accept the pattern of spiraling down pricing?  We are left as small actors looking for bit parts along Hollywood Boulevard.  There is a value to Art. Art is precious, it is a necessity that inspires us and makes this over commercialized physical world we live in bearable.
I believe if you love creating images then nothing will stop you from your goals.  Persistence under extreme pressure should make you more determined, not less.  You might have to find other avenues of revenue and balance your obsessive need to create images with love of family, friends and your local community.  Alot of my friends in the photography business began looking for other outlets for their creativity as the photo industry collapsed.  In some cases these outlets were their first loves.  My friends are now back to writing comedy, playing and performing music, writing essays, writing books and poetry, teaching and painting.  We as creative humans must express ourselves and this expression is not limited to just photography. Keep making meaningful images but also don't get obsessive about just one means of expression. Fulfill your lives in as many ways you can. In other words, it is a good idea nowadays not to put all your skills in one basket.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 2013

Can you still create images and work full time?  I think you can.  I have been doing it now for over three years and yes, it is exhausting but I still feel rewarded by making an effort to get out and create imagery.  I have been in the photo business for 35 years and have been taking photos since my younger brother got a Polaroid camera for Christmas and I got a reel to reel tape recorder.  When I saw that camera and the images he created, I knew that is what I wanted to do. So I would take his camera when he wasn't looking and shoot images I felt were interesting.

Working two jobs takes alot out of you and when you add in the hardest job you will ever have, raising a family, well, time management becomes so important in order to get everything accomplished. Success will come in little steps and small victories by being focused, disciplined and taking action.

Here are some things that help me:

  1. Shoot every week.
  2. Edit the images down to the very best
  3. Do post production on the images ie: cropping, color correcting and spotting. 
  4. Caption and keyword your imagery. This is a must.
  5. Get them out to as many outlets as possible to make sales.
  6. Get a website of your own, I use PhotoShelter
  7. Have patience
  8. Have fun and don't get caught up in the newest and greatest.  Don't take yourself too seriously. Just be yourself and enjoy family, friends and creating imagery you can be proud to share with others.

These are just a summary of what it takes.  We all have our priorities. In the early 90s soon after the birth of our second child, my wife and I decided to sell our house and travel in an RV (our first child was grown and out of the house). I was lucky enough to have my wife's support and we traveled in that RV for ten years.  We raised our second child in the motor home and she saw some of the great places this country has to offer.  When we finally decided to settle back down in a house (she was turning thirteen and the RV was getting alittle crowded) our daughter mentioned one day that she wished we were back traveling! That made me grateful we had done what we did and took a chance and it paid off.