I have an uncomfortable relationship with photography. On one hand I love the medium and the process of photographing gives my life a sense of purpose. On the other hand I despise it. As photographic communities grow wider and wider to a point where we eventually all know of each other either through social media platforms or just a face in an exhibition opening, it becomes a social club for likened minds. This is a really positive element, but like a lot of clubs the exclusivity begins to delude the reasoning for making work in the first place. The audience stays the same, every time.
It is a vicious circle.
The audience of photography within these circles is other photographers which is fundamentally flawed.
Once you make the work the process of sending that information out there is a turbulent path. I usually want to distance myself from all of that. Once the work is made it exists and reaches a few people, but that isn't the intention of it being made. If it doesn't reach anyone it still exists and eventually makes me happy as a result.
There is the photographic world that people spend their lives networking in, talking to people they don't even like because their twitter footprint is invaluable. The term networking has become a dirty word and people tend to now adopt a distanced approach, creating false friendships as a way of keeping the photographic circle together. The use of social media in all of this leaves us desperately hash tagging for attention, to get it out to the right people. The search appears desperate and uncomfortable.
I remember helping set up a talk and someone was looking for the venue. I was passed someones phone and was asked to send a message to them to let them know where it was. The phone was open on twitter. The whole concept that a message that could have been sent via text is then published on the internet for all followers to see.
It's not like we need any more shit on the internet, now our plans makes it onto imaginary pages too.
As the saying goes, its all about who you know but that is where we have gone wrong. Its about the work.
It is not a handful of favors, nor should it be about circumstances or being in the right place at the right time. It should be about the work.
This is the part of photography I want nothing to do with.
It is sad that the formula for success or broadcasted success is down to these factors and the back scratching nature makes it a false environment.
I will talk to you because you will get me this.
But the action of excluding yourself entirely from the environment leaves you in a strange position. You grow frustrated and concerned that you are making these things but with no real audience. Your close friends can appreciate the work but that is as far as it goes. I am safe in the knowledge that I am happy because I made it, but the photography world needs to see it.
It is such a conflicting feeling because you would like to potentially make your way in life using photography to fund it all but there is almost an element of selling your soul for success. This really gets me.
There is something really wrong with that because if you consider that fact that it should be about the work, the work cannot do the talking for you using the model that is set up. You, the person behind it, are the product. That is the thing that people buy. They buy your name, but only once thousands of people have uttered it. It usually doesn't matter if its positive or negative, as long as people are talking about you. Once you are in the minds of many you are involved and considered for a range of things.
The notion that people would see my writing before they see my work is bizarre. Its even more bizarre knowing that people would rather talk about my writing over the work that I make. It is all about what you put out. There was an interesting situation where I submitted my own work for a magazine but they selected my writing instead and I was asked to write about someone's work.
Interestingly I did not even mention I was a writer in my submission.
The writing comes from the work and the aim to write comes from wanting to understand the environment around me. The two environments. The second environment being my curiosities of how people live their lives in the environment that they are in. The first environment being the photography world.
The only people I seem to know are photographers. The people accumulated over time build up your friend lists. Photographers know other photographers and it becomes an incestuous community.
It makes me not want to be a photographer.
One of the best photographers I know obsessively photographed everything. Her eye is incredible. But there came a point where it was too much. She was too good to slap her name everywhere because she was working on ideas and using photography as a catalyst for that. It was so organic, it was real. There came a point where photography became too much.
She wanted to live instead.
She has gone onto something else and her life seems complete when it was uncertain a few years back.
That's the act of photography. It is everything about you but they are just pictures. Photography is a way of life no matter how you want to look at it. That's the way it is.
Seeing how useful it was for my friend to move onto another passion and combine the two, it makes me think it would be a more stable option. It would make more sense. This thing I like to do has taken over my life.
It is in everything I do, most likely every thought I have. It seems to give me a drive and purpose but it stops me leading a normal life.
I don't want a normal life.
It is conflicting.
The uncomfortable balance leaves me considering sacking off the photography world. I don't want to scratch anyone's back, I don't want to spend time talking to someone I am only talking to because there is something they can offer down the line.
All I want to do is be a human being. A nice person who does nice things for people. I want to feel good, right to the core because of the way I'm living.
Despite the detraction from the point, photography does change your personality depending on what you want to achieve from it. You can use a range of conversational tools to create different connections and different opportunities.
I'm just not sure I want to spend my time doing that. When there is living to do.
I make work because I don't understand things. When I make something about a subject I understand it. I have developed and learned from the situation.
It is an evolutionary tool.
I couldn't care less if I was being mentioned left, right and centre if I went about it by playing the game. If the work is strong enough then its strong enough and none of the other bullshit shouldn't matter.