Mr Adams and me
It is not only his pictures that captured my attention; his musings also make for some thought-provoking study. He was at some point a teacher of English, and I think this as well as his artistic consciousness, contribute greatly to his eloquence.
Part of the difficulty in trying to be both an artist and a businessperson is this: You make a picture because you have seen something beyond price; then you are to turn and assign to your record of it a cash value. If the selling is not necessarily a contradiction of the truth in the picture, it is so close to being a contradiction—and the truth is always in shades of gray--that you are worn down by the threat.
The quote above from Robert Adams struck me as fairly relevant to all the never-ending brouhaha between agencies and contributors regarding pricings and commissions.
Yuri Arcurs has announced the creation of his own site to sell his stock photography. He is a rare bird in the domain of microstock that has achieved an enviable level of success. He has managed to find a commodity for which there is a demand and has successfully exploited it. Obviously, he feels that the price others put on his pictures is not appropriate and hence has decided to take the step to cut out the middle-man. There is always some discussion on whether he can be considered an artist or not, but he probably doesn’t care about what people may think. If his primary motivation at the moment is to skip merrily to the bank laughing his head off, then indeed why should he? As long as he feels his work is getting a fair price.
One thing is absolutely clear, I have neither the patience nor the brain power to be an effective philosopher., so I should refrain from commenting on whether an effective artist can indeed be an effective business person or vice versa. At the moment, I am neither and so am inclined to be fairly fatalistic about the going-on in the stock world.
Maybe the solution to deal with the question posed by Mr Adams is to simply decide what is more important on a personal level, the cash value or the “something beyond price”?
Me, I’m too lazy to think about it so I have rarely let it become a threat that would wear me down.
Your own photography is never enough. Every photographer who has lasted has depended on other peoples pictures too - photographs that may be public or private, serious or funny but that carry with them a reminder of community.
To me this one thought carries within it two notions. One, that everyone has been influenced to some degree or another by what people have done before. And two, no matter what, nothing or no one exists in isolation, but rather is part of something larger than itself.
It is obvious, that especially as photographers we cannot live in isolation. We are dependent on what exists around us to produce our work. Whether it is nature, product, portrait, street or news photography we are obliged to interact with the world at large and be part of a community. For better or for worse, we have absolutely no choice if we wish to pursue our “passion”.
At our best and most fortunate we make pictures because of what stands before our camera, to honor what is greater and more interesting than we are. We never accomplish this perfectly, though in return we are given something perfect--a sense of inclusion. Our subject thus redefines us, and is part of the biography by which we want to be known.
No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.
Or rather a few memory cards with some available storage space. Enough said.
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This article has been read 1379 times. Photo credits: Abdul Sami Haqqani.