I started this blog back in May with no real idea what I wanted it to be, and have been very consistent about updating it at least once every six months. I honestly wanted to be better about blogging, but without any idea of what I should be writing about I only updated when I was sitting in front of my computer thinking, “Damn, I should write for my blog”. The thought came to me the other day that what this blog should really be about is my efforts to succeed as a photographer. Not that I am egotistical enough to think anyone really gives a damn about MY efforts, but I will go through good times and I will struggle. These struggles will be the same, or at least similar to, the struggles that all other photographers and most creative professionals go through. I figure if I commit to posting at least 3 times a week maybe someone will read this and we can exchange ideas on how to navigate this whole idea of turning a passion into a vocation, and maybe a good idea or two can come of it.
Entering any creative profession is one of the most terrifying events anyone can conceive of. By it’s very nature creativity has no standard, no measuring sticks, and no real path to a successful career. Therefore many of us go through varying stages of confusion as to what we should be doing, how we should be doing it, and even where we should be doing it. Self-doubt is one of the most glaring side effects of this process. Nearly every creative I have met at one time or another doubts whether or not they are good enough, whether their work is up to snuff, or if maybe they should just go back to working retail. To be honest, this has been one of my biggest struggles ever since I first decided I wanted to make my living with a camera. Am I good enough? Despite winning some awards and having some top industry people tell me I am, I still to this day struggle with that question. I suppose I always will. Shit, even as I started to type this post I began questioning whether or not it would matter as I didn’t know if my work would end up a success.
The truth is, there is no answer to that question. Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t, but the conclusion I finally came to is it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get out there, work your ass off, show your work to as many people as possible, fail a bunch, get back up, try again, and love what you’re doing. I’m not the best photographer on the planet, and I may never be. But I will spend every day trying to be! I think if you’re good enough to make some of your friends and family go “Oh cool! How’d you do that?”, then you’re probably good enough to get out there and start trying! So who’s with me? Who’s down to go out and fail over and over until we finally achieve our dreams of living our lives as the creatives we believe we can be? And now that the Jerry MacGuiremoment is over, I will just say that you, dear blog reader, complete me.
So where to start? I think we all need a purpose, and as I spelled out in a prior post (should I delete the old posts? Not sure they add anything here..), my purpose is to photograph the best and worst of humanity with the belief that man will strive to achieve the best and take action to correct the worst. Great purpose, but what does it mean as a career? The way I see it, the best way to accomplish this is through documentary photography as well as working with NGO’s. NGO’s is the cool term people use for non-profits in case you don’t it. In any case, these avenues provide me with the best opportunities to actually help people, which is what I really want to do. As a career though, it isn’t the most profitable. In fact I think documentary photographers get paid somewhere between nothing and less than nothing. NGO’s, due to the whole non-profit thing, are also not exactly going to finance a Lamborghini for me.
As I have this odd desire to eat and not be homeless I needed to find a way to monetize this and at least make something for my efforts. Given the current disintegration of traditional photography markets, I needed to look elsewhere for funds. So here’s the idea. I intend to apply for tons of grants and hopefully get enough to support my work. After the work is completed I will focus on museums, galleries, exhibitions, and books as my primary sources of income from those projects. The added bonus, in my opinion, of these outlets is that they also allow the viewer to sit with the images longer than they would with a paper, magazine, or website, and thus give them more opportunity to be affected by the work and hopefully actually take some action. Should this actually work, I can then donate, or charge very little, to organizations dealing with the issues I am photographing. This enables them to use my images at a cost that doesn’t kill them, and again reach an audience that cares about what I am photographing.
Of course this is unlikely to fulfill all of my financial needs, so I intend to also begin taking assignments, particularly those related to portraiture. Interacting with other people is perhaps the greatest benefit to being a photographer, and I love doing it. So my second passion in photography is portraits, and I hope to pick up enough work in this arena to fill in the gaps. Keep in mind I have no desire to do family portraits or any of that yin/yang. Rather, think Avedon (http://www.richardavedon.com/) or Platon (http://www.platonphoto.com/) and you will see what I hope to do.
As some of you know, my educational background is in advertising. However if you were to look at my website right now, you might think I flunked out. Let me explain. I have only used my website thus far as a proofing site, meaning to temporarily put up images for people to review. So it looks very half-assed. The reason was I have not been actively seeking work up until now. My plan has been to launch myself in March of 2010. Why then you ask? The reason is that I will be going to Fotofest Meeting Place 2010, and it happens to be in March. The Fotofest Meeting Place is essentially a portfolio review with some of the world’s top names in photography. I will spend 4 days in Houston showing my work to gallery owners, museum curators, book publishers, etc. in hopes that they love me and buy my work. Essentially I am stealing a bit of a page from Jacob Aue Sobol (http://bit.ly/7zI8gq) who took off after breaking out at Fotofest Meeting Place a few years ago, and is now working with Magnum Photos.
Part of this being a success means keeping my work somewhat quiet until then. Thus I have not really put anything on my website, and have not entered any competitions over the past year. Rather, I have worked on my images and tried to coordinate all of my marketing efforts around making my name “buzz” in March. I have also put my primary story into book form, and have a few publishers already interested in it. Hopefully I can pull this off, and in March my plan will take off! Now WILL it actually work? I don’t know. It will somewhat depend on my efforts, partially depend on whether my work is the “kind” of work people are looking for, and timing. Any one of those is off and this could be a failure or just mediocre. We’ve covered my issues with self-doubt, so you should all know I have my concerns about this!
I am currently working on a redesign of my site, and will launch it in late January/early February. Um, and yeah if anyone has mad web design skills out there and wants to lend a hand…drop me a line!
So there you go, an idea of what I want this blog to be as well as my initial plan for becoming a non-homeless photographer. Anyone has any thoughts or ideas please drop me a comment!
Before I go, how about a random picture from the other night?