Creativity. The Immediate Long Term.
In the past few years at least once per month there’s a brand new emerging photographer who found how to levitate, how to make a different reflection of himself in the bathroom mirror, how to survive in a rain of books, how to do self portraits in the middle of levitating apples. You can even see them multitasking several times in the same room. Apart from this they have one more thing in common: they all post their age as portfolio, they are all cute, young and shirtless fit. They all introduce to you as: I am a 19yo art photographer. And they even give you tips and do tutorials on Youtube on how to levitate. Especially if you have flickr. I know, everything is better than the old cut outs in colour. Besides that, these 19yo photographs are fresh, moody and usually comes with a thoughtful quote from Sylvia Plath or Charles Bukowski, something deep and depressive. They live and make you feel living in a world half dreaming half thoughtful.
As Calimero would say: “They are big and I is small and that is not fair!…”
When they turn 21 yo, somehow like any other Cinderella, they disappear at midnight, they found boyfriend or girlfriend, they got more university homework, they started working. Or they simply became emerging fashion photographers as hobby, but they have no longer age in the photographer profile or having time to more youtube tutorials. But for few months they created a flickr, a FB page and a deviantart with all those apples flying around the 19yo shirtless being sat down at their messy beds. And they all end up doing a self portrait flying away through the open window like any other Peter Pan. They self called creative art photographers and they only add one new thing to their photos: them. And people love them. And they have lots of “grand mothers” telling how cute and creative they are. And they believe them.
Photography is now at anyone’s hands. You go out and you see everybody carrying a good digital camera (usually with the cheap lenses that come when you buy a promotional pack), but it doesn’t matter because in automatic mode and a few basic mix of levels in photoshop the photos look great to be seen online.
Another factors are the amount of social network available to share pictures. (Sometimes photographs) and the stock photos companies who make them feel professional “buying” the copyrights to be sold. “Wow, Getty wants a picture I took of my toenails painted red with black dots like a watermelon!”. Hey!, Getty wants everything as long as they can have profit of it!
Day after day there are more zines who publish photography, more people with cameras shooting around, more space in social networks to show your photos. Day after day there are more photographers trying to get a moment of fame. More competition, more quality, more everything… but fewer clients. Or worst clients.
Once there are so many photographers out there who wants to be published and seen, there are lots of them doing works for free or in exchange for a donut. And this just made most of the photographers not professional. Publishers and clients know they can easily find a young photographer with a good camera to do most of the jobs.
Why am I telling all this? We have now great cameras and every day there’s an even better one.
But we are all different! A typewriter doesn’t make a novel as a camera doesn’t make a photograph. Please: use your feelings, your senses, and your mind and be creative!
Creativity should be your best friend. Your gear gives you quality and photoshop skills can make it even better. But creativity is in your mind and that’s what you should use to compete in the photography market. Unless you want immediate fame, so you can do commercial levitating teenagers that everybody loves and finds unique even if there are thousands of teenagers levitating. In fact levitating is what teenagers do the best.
If you want to be in art market, and be a fine art photographer: be creative! Use your mind; build your mind to pay attention to what others didn’t. You are unique. You have different feelings, sensations and reactions to everything than I have or anyone else. And that’s what you should use: differentness: your own uniqueness.
It is important to know what you’re doing, obviously. It is important you to experiment and test. You know how to work and get the best from your gear. It is important you to learn with professional artists/photographers about composition, empty spaces, etc. But what you do, your photo-dialogue is yours and it has to be unique as you are.
Mind: Self-honesty: Differentness: Uniqueness.
These are the best tools you have to be creative.
I am sure that if you and me go take a walk at the same narrow street, we will see different details and we will pay attention to different colours, objects, people, clouds or pavement.
Even when we see the same object we will have a different perception of it. So use your unique point of view, your unique feeling.
Remember the most important tip that can be given to an artist: Be yourself! Being an artist is to express yourself through an artistic mean. Painting, sculpture, drawing, photograph, novel. If you follow what other’s tells you to do, you’re a commercial photographer, not an artist.
Ok, I heard again that “yes, but we have to sell our souls to have money to eat”.
No: starve and shoot yourself starving if needed. No one told that being an artist is easy. You do have to sweat a lot to be outstanding (unless you’re engaged with a well-known art promoter). Clients will notice you by your quality, but especially by your creativity+honesty+differentness.
References. It’s so much easier to understand something that we already have references of. Yes, it’s called mental laziness. That’s why people have lazy minds and that’s why mental laziness brings stupidity and lack of references.
That’s why when someone does something unique people can get lost, because of the lack of references. It’s new and people don’t know how to react. Maybe you have to keep showing new things so people get the mood of it, to understand your own line of creation. Or to go deep in your visual reading.
If you do a photograph inspired in a Man Ray’s one, people will have that as reference and will love your photograph because they were raised to love Man Ray’s work. Make yourself the new reference, don’t use others. You can find inspiration in music, cinema, litterature and even in painting of photography from old masters. But this doesn’t mean to copy them or do something so similar that people will keep seeing the master’s work and not yours. Besides, there’s a reason for the one who inspired you being called master, maybe he made himself a new reference.
Like you should make yourself too.
What are you doing to get out of the herd yourself?
– text by ©Gonzalo Bénard