I love reading blogs. I love commenting on blogs, but due to my being tied up with making magical photograph after magical photograph, I don’t get a lot of time to make comments. So when I do get time, I find it exciting. I wrote this comment earlier today, on another blog, but after I hit submit, the post got rejected for some reason. Well, it wasn’t rejected exactly, the internal machinery wasn’t working, so it never even got sent up the chain of command. But, because I’m so skilled at navigating the digital world, wink, wink, I always save my comments before hitting send. So I figured, at the very least, I could post it here. And, most importantly, I have the time. The blog asked questions about this year, next year and about the “death of film.”
My big news for the year is that it appears that this was the year of “survival is the new success.”
My phone frequently rings in with tales of sorrow from all parts of the world, but at the core of this, I feel, is still a positive spark burning, but burning as a warning for all of us. The question is will we see the warning? Will we take notice? Or will pace once again derail us from seeing the larger picture, no pun intended.
At the heart of all issues photographic is the photographer. We are the solution, and we are the problem.
For 2010 to pull us from the depths of where our industry finds itself, all we need to do is stop, look, listen and slow down.
Unique content is the key, and we’ve gotten away from it. We have filled the world with millions of generic content style images and then wondered why the impact of photography has fallen off the cliff. We wonder why magazines fail. We wonder why no one seems to be interested in great imagery. We wonder why the photographers being regaled are more about technology than they are about imagery. We wonder why adding sound and motion has become so important. We wonder why we think this is going to “save us.”
Speed kills, as they say, and in my mind, it’s been killing our business for at least twelve years. Something happened to all of us the minute we could immediately see our images and the minute we gave ourselves the allusion we were in control of everything. Something happened to us when we began to think we could make perfect things, pictures, people, moments, etc. Something happened when we decided the machines could “make” us photographers.
These things have led us here, and now we need to find the trail out. The road ahead is perilous, and it’s going to take some feeling around the dark to find the trail head. Nothing will be easy. The highway is there, brightly lit, beckoning for us to get in line, but we know where that road leads, it’s what got us to where we are today.
As for the year of the “death of film.” I’ve been hearing that for almost fifteen years, and it makes me laugh every time. The best work being made these days, in my mind, is mostly produced by photographers still using film. In fact, looking back at the books I bought from this past year, and the shows I attended, shows that were good, interesting, and filled with unique content…..all film users. I also acquired several prints, all but one of which were made on film and printed in the traditional darkroom.
So, here’s to a 2010 of kids continuing to buy vinyl, turntables and 1980’s headphones. Here’s to the bicycle. Here’s to face to face instead of the chat room. Here’s to handmade. Here’s to time. Here’s to pen and paper. Here’s to doing things right before you’re on deadline. Here’s to substance over style. Here’s to the unknown photographer. Here’s to not conforming. Here’s to photo editors who actually know something about photography. Here’s to those moments of clarity where we do our best, most creative work. Here’s to photographers learning to think on their own again, and here’s to film surviving yet another year in the death pool. Here’s to design making a comeback. Here’s to the photography book. Here’s to the photography show. Here’s to those that question the higher ups. Here’s to the photographic audience, sorry we forgot about you there for a decade. Here’s to wading through the noise that surrounds the “professional” photography world. Here’s to photographers learning about light instead of keyboard shortcuts. Here’s to personal work. Here’s to creative control. Here’s to saying “No.” Here’s to asking yourself the question, “What is it I truly want to do, and what is it I’m trying to say?” And here’s to finding the answer.
And most importantly, here’s to photography. It’s larger and more powerful than any of us and will survive long after the last pixel or grain of silver has faded to dust.
Costa Mesa, CA