There’s this photographer out there who definitely does not care that I exist. Until recently I did not care about him. I did not come across him the usual way, which is via a suggested Facebook page or seeing some of his work somewhere — let’s be honest I’ll follow just about any photography page that is suggested to me on Facebook because it’s free, I lack self-control and why the heck not. I accumulated a large number of Icelandic photographers around the time of Euros and have no regrets.
This photographer has popped up due to adds. Those adds were not for photographs but for words. Words that I have had the misfortune to be click-baited into experiencing twice. Words that make me angry and shake my head and compelled me to block future adds from him. Words that belie a lack of soul and respect for the craft of photography. Words that are smug and tainted by bad intentions. Words that I could not disagree with more.
This photographer may or may not be a millionaire (perhaps I am giving away too much here wrt social media handles) by way of selling portraits to high end clients but I don’t get the sense that he cares about the art of photography. He sees photography as a business, a lucrative one if you play your cards right. He charged $44,000 for a portrait and wondered why other photographers (especially us wee aspiring ones who find getting any money for our efforts to be thrilling) don’t charge as much. I personally think that art needs to be accessible and that there’s a difference between charging $2,000 for a wedding and amounts that are marked up for the sake of seeming fancy. I’d rather sell a lot of prints than charge so much that I only sell one even if the profit is the same.
This particular gentleman also wrote a post about how photographers need to stop using the word prints because it belittles our art. Sorry dude. That’s what they’re called. People get it. Talk to my Society6 or any vendor at an arts market.
I’m not against the idea of art as business. In fact it is a business past a point. This is the aspect that many people struggle with and I personally wish I was a lot better at. There’s something to be said of art for arts sake whether it’s commercially viable or not. As the wonderful Mr. Neil Gaiman put it in his Make Good Art speech:
I decided that I’d do my best in the future not to write books just for the money. If you didn’t get the money then you didn’t have anything. And if I did work I was proud of and I didn’t get the money at least I’d have the work.
There’s also something to be said for shifting baselines and accepting that different people want different things out of their art.
My goal is to be as good as possible. To be able to take some kickass shots. To keep getting better and better. There is always more to learn. To push myself.
I also want to sustain myself. I want to be able to buy gear and have the resources and opportunities to do interesting things. I want to talk to neat people and snap some shots of them. I want to see beautiful places. I want people to look at my work and think that it looks awesome but also to experience a place or story. Maybe just maybe to challenge something or document it or cause someone to pause and reflect. I want to observe and make people look twice. There’s something really fun about taking a picture of something mundane that you find beautiful and having people stop and look at the thing you’re photographing like they’ve never seen it before even though they walk past it all the time.
I don’t want to be a millionaire. It would be fun potentially. I’d never have to worry about money again. I could buy all the gear I want and then some. That’s not the goal. I just want enough to exist and live a comfortable creative life. I want to have the chance to make cool stuff and see my ideas and passions become something. If I get to the point where I’m charging $44,000 for a print I’ll probably have lost sight of that.