Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fame Doesn't Equal Fortune

Today's headlines in Yahoo News has yet another Celebrity in deep financial shit. This reminds me of 2 celebrities last year, one of them a worldwide famous photographer, both in similar kind of shit. I am talking about Michael Jackson and Annie Leibotivz.

Michael was a great guy, a great legend, never should be forgotten, for all his contributions, his charities and his works! Annie too has been a great photographer, though her latest works in recent years began to suck, probably due to her financial woes.

You can read about Annie here:
1. Gone City Blog
2. Yahoo News
3. NY Times

I have read somewhere regarding Fame doesn't necessarily equals Fortune, that a high percentage of Famous People are not necessarily rich. This brings to my mind when I see the current trend of wedding photographers in Malaysia or worldwide, seeking fame more than anything else, hoping fame will bring them fortune.

Malaysia is a pretty much Fortune-Centered and Fortune-Motivated environment generally and it's not unnatural to have this same attitude in the wedding photography industry. But recent years have shown the "craze" to get famous, among some "senior" photographers and many new photographers, by winning awards and dumping loads of cash into publicity is rampant.

I was once a newbie, a wannabe, a new "wedding photographer", a greenhorn in the wedding industry slightly over 10 years ago when I started DCP. I felt lost in my own country Singapore, as the local photography scene was far from helpful, encouraging or informational about things. Internet was pretty new. Photographers were secretive. Many still are today. I had to depend on my own "school of hard knocks" to work out my workflow, which camera to use, what lens to buy, which film to use, which lab to go to, how to set up my own studio, how to use studio strobes, how to pose couples for pre-wedding shots, how to shoot a wedding well with just 8 rolls of film, hahaha... ;-)  etc. and etc...

I had to rely on myself entirely on how to present my albums, how to price my packages, what to include in my packages and how to get clients. No shortcuts through Internet at all! And the transition from film to digital during the early stage of digital photography and digital printing, was one of the most killing time!

In contrast, we have everything so easily accessible today via the Internet. We have more "sharing" photographers than ever in this century! However, we also get loads of shitty information from the Internet. The bottom line is "Watch who and where you learn from!"

It's 100% possible to disguise yourself as a pretty good photographer now with digital photography and very capable Photoshop plug-in filters and Adobe Lightroom.

Just shoot randomly thousands and select the few out, with RAW, we can make 3-stops underexposed image still look good, and with 23 megapixels from a 5Dmk2 for example, we can crop to 1/10th of the image and it's still useable. Then apply the Photoshop filter over it under preview, choose the one you like most, click "Apply" and "Ta Da!", you got it.

Never mind if it looks a little out-of-focus when you click "actual pixels" on your Photoshop screen, never mind if it looks a little noisy... anyway, after resizing it to 800 pixels at 72dpi, it looks GREAT on the Internet! Just make sure you do the "right" selection. If you are not sure of what images "sells", just check up on other wedding photographers on Facebook and you will know, because you got this great group of "sharing" wedding photographers all grouped together in Facebook today. Life is so nice to have so many "selflessly-sharing souls" on the Internet.

I know I sound sarcastic. 

Just a reminder to myself,
Everyone "cari makan" (earn-a-living in Bahasa Melayu).
But am I doing it so selfishly that I am hurting others around me?
Am I selling what I am not?
Or am I hurting my own conscience?

Fame? Is it really worth it?