Creative: Been a While

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There hasn’t been much adventure in my life lately. Not that I haven’t been busy and doing all kinds of kinds, in all kinds of places, but there hasn’t been any focus on a cohesive project, a travel adventure or even a focused attempt at photography. Like many people working today, I’m drawn in multiple directions at the same time, which doesn’t lend itself to concentrated efforts.

I’ve also been nagged by reoccurring thoughts about photography and the state of the photography business itself. When I reach out to photographers to ask how they are doing I’m met with a barrage of bad news. This really pains me. To see creative, talented, driven people dying on the vine is painful to watch, especially because I was once one of these people. At least the driven part.

As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I’m involved in this AG23 Zine project with Beyond, a project representing something new for me. What that is exactly is difficult to explain, but this is what I do know. The old model of photography is broken and has been for several decades. The new model of photography, the one mired in the world of social following, doesn’t work either. What I see is opportunity. Again, not for myself but for the community at large. What is the future of photography because it surely isn’t going to be what we have now.

Maybe these images representing the old and the new in regard to energy are a good composition for what I’m attempting to describe in regard to photography. We have a group desperately clinging to the old model. Some for pure greed, others because they don’t anything else and the remaining numbers clinging perhaps out of fear or frustration. The new industry offers something we MUST embrace, but it’s not perfect in its current state, and people are embracing it in a variety of different ways and speeds.

The power has shifted from tradition keepers of information to the public in general, but this has an upside and downside. Creators are no longer beholden to the gatekeepers, but they still need to make a living. Combine this with a massive influx of semi-trained, semi-professional creators who feel the need to be “pros” right away with almost no training. This waters down the quality of work. Throw in the relentless bombardment of imagery via social and you have a truly unsustainable situation.

So what’s next? Where do we go? How to we repair what has been destroyed, or do we kiss it goodbye and watch the pieces float away on the tide? Me, I’m going to start thinking. Pure, unrestricted thought. What does a positive future look like? Is it possible? I don’t want any part of what is happening now. Today’s model just isn’t good enough, or interesting enough, and is failing in the primary goal of existing as a sustainable platform created to deliver the best work available. Let’s get to work.

Comments 6

  1. Dan I could write so much but I share your concern even when I am not as long as you in the business. I see all the meaning less content and I include myself for sure. I try hard to improve and learn so that my lovely friend the photography doesn’t suffer anymore. For example my project about chefs, you know it already, I put so much heart and passion in it and money but at the end it is important to get the best images and build up a long term relationship. It gives so much even when I am exhausted by end of the day! Satisfied is the right word! Haha! Dan I am currently in the train to my part time job at Apple and would love to write more but we meet anyway someday! Have a great one! Wim

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      I think that part-time job is key. Keeps you from having to take the jobs you don’t want.

  2. I’m not in the business as such and don’t get paid to photograph, I just do it for the love of all things photography. From the outside looking in though, I too share your concern about the way things are already headed.

    I’ve no problem putting in any work so if I can help at all on any project/model to help shape that future, then count me in and you know how to reach me!

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  3. You know I just can’t mourn the past. I was in PJ for 12 years and it was a continuous uphill slog. Journalism degree, yeh got one….Internships…yup…but after 12 years I quit and went into infosec and didn’t look back. Dan the business of photography for most of us has always sucked in various ways. Now 20 years later I’m rediscovering it just for me, for now. I say just be happy and the rest will follow. I just bought this Lomo LC-A 120 camera and I’m like a little kid again. It vignettes like hell. You zone focus it. You have very little, almost no control. And I’m shooting film again. I’m PLAYING. Screw the photo business. You may have loved it but it doesn’t love any of us back. BTW I wanna hear more about this zine thing….sounds groovy.

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      I’m not mourning the past. Not by a long shot. That system, while better in some ways than the modern system, was far from perfect. I’m just lost as it where it’s going now. The current system isn’t working and isn’t sustainable, not even in the short term. It might all just go away, and if it does it does. Just curious more than anything else. I don’t have much desire to shoot film anymore. I do love film, but I don’t look at my photography in the same way, nor do I have the bandwidth for shipping film, scanning film, etc. There is no doubt the look is something I miss, but my life pulls in another direction now.

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