"These fallen leaves envy those still on trees. But eventually all
will fall to the ground and disappear into time's passage."
When I was younger, hungrier for success, filled with anxiety, I was often jealous of other photographers' successes. It's a bad thought process. As time went by I realized that our work isn't bound by a limited collection of opportunities. There was no balance or real order to failure and success. One person's success doesn't doom another person to irrelevance. The universe is not, I think, keeping score --- even though we might be...
Now, with hindsight, I can see more clearly that individual successes in the business, or just in the personal advancement of one's art, can lift and enhance the playing fields for many who follow them in making good work. A person who is brave enough to push for higher fees or sales prices, who then is successful in getting them, sets a new, higher ceiling for everyone else. If they are wise enough to pay attention and take advantage of the altered landscape. A new gallery needs many artists not just the one on display for the next six weeks.
Often I hear from the old guard that a new person has quickly or unfairly gained popularity on Instagram or TikTok because they are female, or young, or beautiful. But when I look at the work that the "instant" Instagram success has put out into the world and compare it with the work proffered by the critic I can sometimes clearly see why the former has excelled and the latter is mired in frustration. Or fear. One is currently in step with current culture while the other wishes culture would protect tenure. It's a mean road to go down.
It's part of a syndrome I've covered here before. Established artists sometimes find a "comfortable" style that brings them success in the moment. They get praise in the moment. And they find themselves repeating the same basic work for decades and decades either fearful or uncomfortable of stepping outside what was once a safe path for them. They seem unaware that they are stumbling down a dead end street. The work has been done and absorbed. Their real impetus going forward should be re-invention and an embrace of their vision of now. Today. No one of any generation listens well when a conversation starts with, "Back in the golden age of......" or "That's not the way we did....x"
Some practitioners keep making the same images but dress them up with new stylist touches. A new format. A new color palette. An unusual angle. But the core of the original vision stays the same. And they want to be commended for dressing up old ideas or constructs in a new wardrobe. But art doesn't really work that way for the vast majority of artists.
Sure, If you are already famous you can make $$$ by churning out endless iterations of the work you became famous for. As long as collectors are anxious to buy proximity to fame you'll be in good shape. But the rest of us either need to work without the expectation that some audience will give us the stamp of approval or; even better, we need to work with ongoing curiosity and passion to produce art that resonates with the time in which we live. We need to interpret our vision in the context of our culture. Especially if we're leveraging the new tools of culture to reach an audience.
To compare one's self to "the competition" or the newbie who has an "unfair advantage" is to miss the mark entirely. It may be that you don't really like the "new arrivals" work. That's fair. But some audience out there does and it's obviously not your audience. Since it's not your audience you have nothing to lose by the other person's success.
Finally, if you truly believe that your work is the superior currency you might want to rethink your overall competitive strategy. Better to work on finding your own audience; people who appreciate your vision, than to tear down another artist who has no culpability in keeping you from your own success.
Jealousy is a waste of time. A waste of energy and in the long run it chips away at whatever sector you work in. It's a better strategy to lift all boats than to try and drag everyone down to a lower level of existence.
I entitled this, "Quiet Photography" because I believe that your first and most important audience is yourself. If you keep making work in which you aren't really invested in order to achieve "likes" you are really just following someone else's dreams. And that's a dead end street.
Should be scripture on the first day of class in Photography 101. How much energy gets wasted in envy?ReplyDelete
Being jealous is a waste of time and energy. It gets you nowhere, it's a violent emotion. For myself I enjoy new work, I thrive on seeing new work by different artist, I find it refreshing. I tell my son you have to be different to be better, so you have to keep refreshing, reinventing yourself. Surround yourself with positive people, and let the naysayers go their own way. People are entitled to their own opinion, that's all they may have, and you can't take that away from them.ReplyDelete
As for "older people" becoming isolated, yes, they do, myself included as I've chosen not to participate in the negative energy that's in my area right now. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the anti everything people have moved into my area and are pushing others out. The camera club had to disband as they were viewed as anti social or their work didn't meet the christian rights standards there were only 6-8 of us. It isn't a good idea to go out photographing around this small town any longer, as it was told to me by a couple of trumpet mouthpieces when I was out walking with my camera, "you old long hair people should be careful, at your age things can happen." I held up my hand and told her, and him to read between the lines, if they could read. They showed me their guns, and said "it our duty to help keep the peace." I keep on shooting and told them to go keep the peace somewhere else. They looked at each other and left. Long story short, people are.......disappointing right now in my area, even in Portland 35 miles away it's a mess.
On a positive note I'm having fun with the Nikon Zfc, and there are a lot of very interesting positive people out there. I need to go find them. Do I hear road trip time? Why YES I do. I'm looking for a house or cafe in Eugene Oregon where my son goes to college. I love college towns, when I go down there the kids like to hear stories about shooting film and the sunny 16 rule. hahahahahahah
It's my type of day today, SUNNY and COLD!! 22 degrees. Time for a run? Yes I think so.
How about your thoughts on, what happens if you own to much camera stuff and it gets hard to choose what to take out on a shoot, walk about, or trip?
Roger. I love your spirit. And your discipline. Screw the far right and all their pseudo religious crap. They might have read the book but they sure didn't get the plot. Head to Eugene. Or someplace even less toxic. But keep shooting and keep commenting.ReplyDelete
@crsantin, I live in Toronto too. When you have cleaned out the clutter in your garage, please feel free to come and clean out mine. :)ReplyDelete
Jon, do you store your Leica in the garage? Can I come help clean out too?ReplyDelete
Just read Roger Jones' comments about passers-by who don't like photographers. Forgive me, I'm from Canada, but they showed you their guns!?! Are they putting something in your water supply?ReplyDelete