Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Loosely related things...

Late last year I had six photoshoots with models lined up and, or so I thought, ready to go.  On the day of the shoots four models backed out an hour or two before we were to work together.  These events sent me into something of a tail-spin and I started to revisit the topic of why I do what I do.

While living in the states I enjoyed working with models.  It felt very much like we were working together.  The people I worked with had "as much skin in the game" as I did.  Now that my wife and I live in Europe I've come to see that things are not the same here.

As I try to find a way out of the tail-spin that I find myself in I've come across a few things that help me understand what is taking place around me.

I feel that "photography" is dead.  It is dead in the sense we knew it as recently as just a few years ago. The death of "photography" seems to be related to what an images purpose is and how they are consumed.  I use the word consumed deliberately.  I would rather use the word appreciated, but can't bring myself to do that.

Who is going to make the great images that people used to enjoy looking at in Sports Illustrated?  Who is so talented in their image making that they can replace professional artists with decades of experience under their belt?

It seems to me that photography has moved from recording time to sharing experiences.  Where is the of-the-age defining Hindenberg on fire image from the Fukushima disaster?  Where is the iconic photo that helps us understand what happened in that disaster?  There isn't one.  It was all "live feeds" of images and videos that shared the experience of the place.  That's how much things have changed.

I despair the lack of appreciation for how lighting can be used to define, describe, and illustrate a scene.  Amongst photographers certain people are, yes, still appreciated.  I'm thinking of Bill Gekas as I write this. Certainly there remains a (shrinking?) place for workers who know how to gather people together and pose them for weddings. Beyond this what "need" is there for someone to record an event or to make a lasting picture of someone?

This sea of images to consider and review is so vast that finding works which contain the qualities I have come to appreciate is very difficult.  Hashtags and sorting engines bring torrents of mediocre work which have little or no value (to me).  Flickr's "Explore" engine shares hundreds of photos and I'm many times left wondering what the hell is this?  The human curated sites like and seem to share the same collection of images day in and day out.

The sharing of talents between photographer/model/stylist/couture is no longer "needed" as anyone with an image maker or cell-phone can perform the tasks required to get a picture out of a box and onto a website or into print.  It takes no technical knowledge nor talent to make a wonderful image.  Imaging systems have, by and large, sorted all that out for the button pusher.  Anyone can "look good" as an "artist."

Now more than ever before I need to find, to fully appreciate. and to completely embrace the reasons I make images.  My work will likely be from this day forward for my own and only my own pleasure, contentment, and intellectual-emotional pursuits.

I cannot expect to work as I used to.  Things have dramatically changed.  Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to change as well.  The question is which path, if any, may I best forge?

Retromobile ~ 2015

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