Saturday, June 26, 2010

Photography, should it be a competition?

I have not been too happy lately. Photography is getting easier. Cameras are getting cleverer. Professional fees are getting lower. Well, some are still charging their clients exorbitantly but at the same time, there are also clients and friends who spreads the word that, "It's not worth it!". So, I guess the consequence will show in the next few years.

Now, as a professional, I should get worried, BUT I'm not. That's probably I am not too money-motivated like the rest anyway. I can live with the minimum and I like to live with the minimum. I do have my shopping sprees at times, from miniature cameras to large format cameras, film to digital, BUT when I get sick of having too many, I start selling them one by one or even in batches! Some say I am crazy. LOL... Or simply put, "I don't care!"


Many treat it as a way to mask themselves. Show some arty-farty looking images to others and maybe you'll be given a chance to be looked upon as an Artist with a Big "A". "Oh, please don't show anything too ordinary, people look at your snapshots and they may just despise you!"... that rings in our mind constantly. "We've gotta be really stringent with ourselves. Show an image of your garden and people might just discredit you totally as an artist."... we thought.

And so, we only show that one out of a hundred. And we shoot all the MORE with our digital, in hope that we can achieve more shots that are "worthy" to be shown around. There goes our confidence and skills! Digital rots... not just our digital cameras' re-sale value rot BUT our skills rot too! We become so reliant on "Chance Shots" or "Experimental Shots" to prove ourselves. We shoot thousands, hopefully we can get that few shots worthy of an award.

Hey! Is photography really ART? Are we trying too hard?

Whenever you look through your viewfinder before each shot, are you 100% indulged in the scene and truly enjoying each click of the shutter without worrying if the shot will get approved by others OR are you always trying to achieve "that" shot which others have somehow implanted in your mind as "the way to do it to get approved"?     

No wonder almost all the wedding images I see in facebook nowadays where all the wedding photographers congregate looks similar! Each is trying to get approved by the other. Silly, isn't it?

There's a place for copying to learn. BUT that should NEVER be the constant activity in our life. If that's all we do most of our time, we have basically become photocopiers.

How can photography be like a race, a competition, when there's no finishing line? It's not like you can score 0.2sec faster and break a previous record?!

Shouldn't we all be a little bit more confident in our individuality and enjoy photography as individuals instead of trying to be someone else?

Some photographs may look mundane, ordinary and common, BUT they could bear significant meaning and value that could never be judged or measured. There's also no necessity for judgment.

A photographer can never be the same as a painter. We are largely technologically-dependent and influenced. The ONE precious thing which the camera can do is to "still fleeting moments"! And that skill depends on the individual's eye and fluency in using his instrument, in which we can't deny modern cameras today are already doing most of the job for us.

So, before we think too highly of ourselves as artists, maybe we should just calm down a little, and admit that there are many individuals out there becoming "great artists" in less than a year. I think we hardly encounter talented painters of this sort do we? We can't deny photography is actually not too difficult, can we?

Bottom line (before I sidetrack too far): 
1. It's definitely not difficult to copy others' works
2. Photography is definitely much easier than painting
3. Photography is not just arts but it's also Mainly for documentary purposes 
4. It's definitely HARD to develop our individual style especially when we are surrounded by "copycats" and "copying" has already sort of become "the subconscious culture".
5. It seems that few can really shoot FREELY without thinking of making money out of it (there are definitely more mercenary photographers than painters out there except China)
6. And when money becomes the motivational factor, we begin to shoot like the ones who have been making "the money", and we lost ourselves.
7. We should NOT be afraid of our works being copied even though it will surely happen if you are good at it. That's just too narrow-minded to think that our works are original and others' are not. It's the clearest sign of "Insecurity" due to the lack of confidence.

Here is an article I found some time ago which resonates what I feel. To read, CLICK HERE!