Friday, January 03, 2014

Now what...?

A recent Dear Susan blog entry sparked my following (edited) response to the questions raised concerning the present state of photography.

There are raised a series of questions that many of us have been struggling to answer.

For me, here is the nub of it: We _must_ decide what is important _to each of us as individuals_.

Why do we pursue photography with the level of passion that we do?

Is it the feeling of joy that a "superior" piece of photographic equipment can give?

Is it the prospect of making money from photography?

Is it the art of a final work-product?  That is, is it an image or project of images that fully expresses what you feel, or what you must say?

I dare say that we must be honest with ourselves.

I put it this way because I see many people tend to confuse these three elements into believing in there somewhere some kind of magic will mystically appear.  It won't.  Not even the world's greatest artist ever had a style or approach drop into their laps, unbidden, without fully engaging their art.  Tools, in those cases, become utterly secondary to what's going on in the artist's head and heart.

If you love camera equipment, then love camera equipment.  Realize that you might not make a pleasing image, but let's be honest about your motives, shall we?

If you want to make money from photography, then pursue it in full knowledge of the styles and practices that are currently selling.  This, so you can increase your chances of financial success.

If you want to make art, then it's possible that money and equipment will only be a means to an end.  Your results may successfully reflect what you feel you must say.

Answers to these questions will be vitally important.  Why?  Because what is happening right now is a redefinition of photography.

It's had a great run for the past nearly (but not quite) 200 years.  The technologies that enable image making have evolved to the place where the act of photography has been made commonplace and easy.  Practically no thought, planning, or practice is required.

Someone wrote an article that triggered a cascade of realizations in me about the present state of photography.  In short, there has been a mass movement from the potential for photographic art and reportage to an instantaneous sharing of experience.

Think about that a moment.  Experience.  Not art. Not informative reportage.  Experience.

When we think about what we want to say to each other (in our blogs and social media outlets) we come constantly straight against the question:  Who cares and why?  Why does what I say matter? 

The worst part if it is that even with all the effort it takes, you run the ego-deflating risk that no one will look.  That no one will care.  Then what?  Why are we doing what we do?

It takes a strong person to look boldly into the face of reality, doesn't it?

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