So now we have lots and lots and lots of people tossing around lots of half baked ideas and meaningless, endlessly repeated prattle while snapping mostly vacuous and banal photographs and posting a huge melange of crap in every conceivable media. As long as it's free.
But far from being a distant and dispassionate observers I have to readily agree that I'm as culpable as the next guy. I've gone from being a regional corporate photographer who was generally thought to be a good portrait photographer to being quoted as an expert about lenses on DPreview. I've pontificated so often about lighting on Flickr that I'm considered by some to be an expert there. But it's all a big joke. And I'm bursting my own balloon before someone else does it for me.
Mea Culpa. I got swept up the in the supposed paradigm shift. But in the end the web and all this noise is just the "pet rock" on the TV of a new generation. Bell bottom trousers. Social networking is a desperate attempt at personal marketing in a time when jobs are shifting from employee to contractor and people are scared to death they'll be left behind.
I started posting on Facebook because one of my clients acted shocked that I wasn't on Facebook. What if I miss an invitation to an event? Fat chance. I'm sure the invitation will be in the massive amounts of e-mail we look thru every day. And if I did miss an invitation would the world end? I'm hosting a party for my swimmer buddies on December the 11th. To date I've gotten 32 invitations to other events being held on the same evening. The problem isn't missing an invitation but weighing which ones to accept.
I started this blog to help sell my four books (please buy all four for everyone on your list) but no one really likes talking about books so I started writing about other stuff. And now I write about other stuff all the time.
I started posting to Twitter to bring more readers to my blog. But Twitter is so weird and disjointed that in the months and months I've tried to decipher it I still can't see how anyone gets any value from it.
I know how to do two things well. I can take portraits. I can write words that flow (most times) and make sense. That's it. I don't know more than the rest of us about philosophy. I don't know much more about lenses than anyone else and what little I know either comes from actually shooting them or from taking the time to read more anecdotal stuff on the web and re-interpret (regurgitate) it. What I know about camera sensors is meaningless and irrelevant. If I had more understanding about economics than the rest of you out there I sure wouldn't be trying to make a living as a writer and photographer.
I taught workshops last year. But it's hard to take workshops seriously when I think that everyone should just take their money and go someplace exciting and shoot on their own. If you've got a couple weeks and $6000 burning a hole in your pocket just get on a damn plane and go to Istanbul or St. Petersburg and shoot from sun up till your last daily minutes of consciousness. Then you'll have something to show off. Something you might actually want to print. All you need to know about handling your camera is in the owner's manual. The rest, to reiterated my own tired quote, is just "time in the water."
So, what do I do now with the realization that I'm not smarter than most other people. Not a wildly stellar, superstar photographer, not a brilliant philosopher or economist. What do I do with the realization that blogs don't sell books. That Twitter doesn't sell blogs. That I don't want to spend precious hours every day doing "rah!-rah!" for myself about myself?
How about I turn off Flickr and Twitter and Facebook and do what's always worked well for me? That would be taking photographs of people in my own style. Writing stuff I know about. And swimming enough laps everyday so that I can eat pizza once a week and a glass of wine or two and not gain weight. That sounds pretty good to me. And marketing? Two postcards and $500 in postage brought in more money for me in a handful of jobs this year than all the web marketing I've done in five years.
Will I keep blogging? Yeah, but I'm only interested in talking about street photography and portraits. I'll leave it to someone else to sell cameras and books and lights and stuff. I just want to know how to use them to make art. And then I'll be happy to talk about art.
Two things I do well: Portraits. Words. One thing I'm okay at and enjoy: Swimming.
I'd love to be a real Renaissance Man but it makes me tired just thinking of all the stuff I would need to be able to do. No one has that kind of time. Might as well be doing what you really love.
the holidays are upon us. I humbly submit that a good book about photography will be most welcome by the photographers on your list. Here are a few suggestions: