This isn’t the picture. There has to be some element of surprise, a minimal level of suspense. If I show it to you, you won’t click on the link.
And I want you to click the link, because I’m deeply honored to have one of my images chosen an August Top 10 Pick by PDN (Photo District News) on their PhotoServe site. They have a lot of great photographers who do a lot of great work. PDN is pretty interesting too. They put out a beautiful publication (in print!), have a great website, and put together a world class expo in the fall.
This isn’t the picture either
I consider myself an art photographer, so signing up for a high-powered professional website was a stretch. But I’m reading a book on habits–the creation of new ones, the terrible harm of bad ones (like uncontrollable gambling)–and a very interesting subject came up: the power of weak ties. People assume that deep ties get you the most in this life, and certainly they provide you with the deepest emotional satisfaction (husbands, wives, etc.). But “weak ties,” the kind that occur in professional networks, are incredibly important as well and figure largely in hunting down jobs and professional opportunities. Art is actually an occupation. You can’t just hole up in a studio and cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Okay, maybe during the creation part. But at some point you have to go out and reconnect to the business of the world. You have to keep abreast of developments in your field, try to reach potential customers, even just identify who those customers might be. You have to put on your marketing hat.
This isn’t it either. Keep Going.
It’s tough because photography has changed radically in the past 35 years. Opportunities have increased exponentially for photographers. Opportunities have decreased exponentially for photographers. Yes, both. More galleries than ever show photographic work. It is an accepted part of the art world, and some of the most famous living artists are photographers (Cindy Sherman).
But if many artistic possibilities have opened up, many professional ones have disappeared. Many jobs that used to be farmed out to photographers–product shots, event coverage, report and presentation photos–are being done in-house, often by an intern, with a decent digital camera. More and more pros are competing for less and less work. Refined sensibility, knowledge and networks are ways to compete on a playing field that has been leveled by advancing technology.
Nope. Keep going.
Weak ties, the kind facilitated by professional and online networks, allow you to open channels to people (customers, clients, patrons) you might not otherwise reach. You may not know someone, but you may have friends and acquaintances who know someone and can facilitate an introduction. Which sometimes is all you need. Weak ties also bring you news you might not hear, and information on trends and technology you might not otherwise learn about.
The more pictures I see, the more names I become familiar with, the more my network and knowledge grows, the stronger my own position will be. We all have definitions of ourselves and what we do. I see myself as an art photographer (do I sound a little snooty?). But sometimes our world is small, and it’s good to open it up, let some fresh air and sunlight in, get a different perspective. PDN is a wider world to me, with new faces and wonderful images. I love seeing other people’s work and hearing about it. Though I have only been there a short while, I feel I am in the company of very talented people and have learned new things.
I love seeing other types of photography. One of my guilty pleasures is fashion photography. I love the clothes, the crazy settings, the wild but always fabulous lighting. Though I don’t do this type of photography (and go around in clothes from Macy’s), it inspires my still life work. I realize I don’t have to take a picture of fruit sitting in the kitchen. I can move it, light it, stage it. I can make it stand in for something else. It becomes a vehicle for ideas, and is often given very fancy treatment! (some of those fabrics are expensive!) I see it differently, in terms of form, color and potential. Handymen were in my apartment the other day and saw a bunch of very dead sunflowers on the counter. I know what they were thinking: “Who the hell keeps dead flowers around?” But to me, the twisting shapes and muted colors were very beautiful. And are because they’re still here and I’m still taking pictures of them.
We learn from people who are not like us, who have different views. Photographers who photograph different things. Like the other Top 10 Pics photographers. Kudos to everyone! I look forward to learning more about them and their work. See for yourself:
Link to all the August Top 10 Pics on the PDN PhotoServe website
Link to the PDN August Newsletter
Link to PDN Tumblr blog
– Catherine Kirkpatrick (www.catherinekirkpatrick.org)
All photos @Catherine Kirkpatrick