“How has your art been received in your community? Do you have any detractors?”
“Oh, yeah. That comes up all the time. If you really, really commit to something, someone will hate you for it. And that’s ok. But the further you pursue your art, and the more you come to understand that it’s coming from who you are, the less that stuff gets to you. When you reach that point and put your work out there, and somebody hates it, what are your options? Are you gonna move forward or completely realign your work? Somebody will always be there to tell you they don’t like what you’re doing. To do work that pleases people is a constant investment in gauging trends and evaluating opinions and measuring yourself against them. If you align to what’s popular, and then in two years everyone hates it, you have to completely change who you are. But if you just figure out who you are and how you want to work, all you have to do is commit to that the rest of your life. People’s reactions might change, but you won’t have to. You’ll be doing something you care about, whether people like it or not.”
On the previous post I mentioned, almost in passing, how negative articles and stories are more highly engaged than are positive ones.
A few minutes later, this catches my attention:
“So, one answer to my student’s rhetorical question is “Just say NO.” As in, no, I will not make your donut commercial for free; no, I will not play at your restaurant “for the exposure;” no, you cannot have my painting to hang in your home because your “important” friends will see it; no, I will not paint your set “for the experience.” What I will do is accept a slightly below market wage because I’m still in school and you’ll get what you pay for; yes, I will play at your restaurant for one night if you provide dinner for my family of six beforehand; yes, I will loan my painting to you for a fixed period of time if I am invited to the cocktail party to meet your important friends; yes, I will paint your set with you so that you can train me on a specialized technique with which I am unfamiliar. Or, yes! I will gift my talents to you with generosity and an open heart because I love you, your cause, or your work. But no, I will not make your donut commercial for free. [In a follow-up post, I discuss saying "YES!"]“
It received over 114 responses before the comments were closed.
The following week, the author wrote “Saying YES”.
“Just – or even more – important than knowing when to say “no,” is knowing when and how to say “yes.” Giving builds community; giving builds friendships; giving builds social capital (although one need not think of it in those terms); giving lifts the spirit of both the giver and receiver. We may give of our time, we may give of our money, we may give of our things, we may give of our talent. Related to giving is sharing – we may share knowledge, share food, share an experience (good or bad), without any exchange of material goods.”
It received three comments.
Negativity is the common thread of all failed anythings. The author has it right on both of these articles. Absolutely right… and yet the negative by far has more engagement.
WTF? You think I am some sort of sociologist or somethin’? I have no data, only my life long experience of finding that negative people are more persuasive and impassioned than they should be.
It is almost as if people go LOOKING for negative things to use as some sort of blame shifting mechanism.
After all, if you aren’t successful it is probably because of ‘those people’… you know who I mean… the others that steal dreams and force us to constantly make bad decisions and sit on our fat asses whining.
From Seth this morning:
“Culturally, we create boundaries for what something is worth. A pomegranate juice on the streets of Istanbul costs a dollar, and it’s delicious. The same juice in New York would be seen as a bargain for five times as much money. Clearly, we’re not discussing the ability to pay nor are we considering the absolute value of a glass of juice. No, it’s about our expectation of what people like us pay for something like that.”
And that is the problem – and the solution.
If people are complaining that your photography prices are “too expensive” they may be telling you loud and clear that what you are offering is not ‘worth it’ to them.
That your work is “too expensive” gives absolutely no actionable response. We don’t know what that means. Whether they are low on money or are comparing your pricing to their brother-in-law’s new portrait hobby.
But if they say “your work is not worth – to us – what you are asking for it” then we have something to go on. We can ask why they do not value it more. We can look into creating a value that surrounds the imagery by creating a better story about it. The story is the thing that makes it different.
Things that are ‘worth it’ are usually accompanied by stories that create the value. Without a good, compelling story, it is just a photograph… and that may not be worth it to anyone.
What’s your story?
Photographer Andras Deme.
Assignment shot for Project 52 PROS: “Time Travel”.
Andras used collage techniques to show the same woman in antique garments and a future wardrobe. The image was shot in London.
You know them. The ones everyone has seen.
The bridge over the Virgin River in Zion is one of those iconic photographs as well.
A shot most everyone takes after finding a place to park. Some folks hike more than a mile to get on the bridge for this shot of sunset in the summer. A Google Image Search turns up dozens of this scene (and quite a few of the footbridge at another location). All are similarly taken from the same bridge, but all of them have nuances both large and small that change the image in seemingly magical ways.
When we are confronted by these iconic images, right there in front of us, there is a tendency to compare and contrast with all those we have seen before. The ones on bright spring afternoons, or with dark and foreboding winter skies. And all of the weather/time spectrum between.
I always wonder if I should take the shot or simply pass with the knowledge that someone else “got it”?
I nearly always take the shot. I don’t know why, really, other than it is my record of being there. My version of what it looked like that late afternoon with the wispy clouds, and warm light. Mine.
Perhaps it is because I make photographs for myself. I am not looking to ‘please’ others, nor am I young enough to think that everything I do is unique and ‘cool’. It isn’t. Probably never was.
But those images are ones I like, and they add visuals to the memory of some wonderful new friends, an excellent experience, and for the brief moment that the image was all mine.
While I may never set the world on fire, I can kindle up a few sparks of my own… and that is one of the things that I love so much about photography.