Friday, February 2, 2007

the art, the commerce

happy like an autumn tree

«happy like an autumn tree»

Alec Soth, in his blog, has a quiz. It is actually kind of fun to guess who are the celebrities behind each of the posted photos. I am not surprised that some, e.g. David Lynch, do take good photos, and it is a pleasant surprise to see who else does it (e.g., Brendan Fraser and Leonard Nimoy). I am not sure why it should be surprising that anyone with a camera can have the talent, even if the known-talent is away from photography. (Mathematics anyone?) After all, the basic idea of photography is to show what we see, and hopefully, what we feel is around us. We all have that faculty and how it is expressed best varies, and it seems that we put it aside the gear stigma making a good photographer, then it should not be surprising at all. I am not above it either, though I like to think of it as a pleasant surprise.

The quiz reminds me of a topic mentioned by friends: why don't I do this full-time? There can be courtesy behind those words, and it definitely is a fanciful suggestion. I view such comments are praise and not as suggestion on what to do, but it does make me assess how photography lives and becomes part of me. Those type of search questions through photography is a reason for this blog to exist. Most of the questions that arise deal with the process, and not with my direction in life. There are many aspect to this "search," and it is best to deal with one aspect at the time: commercialization.

I am not treading any new ground, just a little more understanding of what is involved. For example, I can begin to understand the so-called artistic struggle read over and over again, but in the past it was so distant. Now, it is an actual conflict. I certainly cannot rely on celebrity to make a push to get my work more widely exposed. Gifted or merely talented/competent, there is the advantage of having wide exposure through one art form to get some vindication for another. Actors try it with music, musicians try it with painting, and seemingly, everyone can try it with photography.

Of course, there is the element of appeal. The photograph above is probably my most accessible image. (There could be others in my computer/film-strips, so I should say "published" photo.) However, the photo was a total fluke. Well, most of my photos are fluke because I report what I see in my walks, and I do not go out and figure something grand: the photos taken are very extemporaneous.

Another important element is style. I can see from flickr that those that are very successful, in appeal and a flickr-sense, have a well-defined style. It seems that people migrate to the "safety" of consistency in style. Along with other photographers that I admire, I think my style -- as friends tell it to me -- has to do more with the feel, than the subject or "printing" style. Such a situation also arises in music, where often, the large fan base dislikes that a band in pop changes styles. This consistency seems to be required for a commercialization of one's art, regardless of field.

So, this entry is just to present three aspects that merits further thought with regards to some level of commercialization: exposure, appeal and style. It would not be interesting to discuss this, or it has been discussed extensively already, if it is not to involve one specific case: I will volunteer.