Photography and Art

Thursday, November 26, 2009

If a tree falls...

Today I've been musing about whether an artist needs an audience to be happy. As a photographer, I've been rather unsuccessful at marketing my work. I've had my images displayed in galleries and I've been part of a gallery catalog (see page 39) and I've sold some works at silent auctions for good causes, but that's about the extent of it. No one is beating down my doors to buy my work.

Fortunately, I don't make my living as a fine art photographer and that suits me fine. It means that I can suit myself as to what I photograph. I don't have a demanding public who want more shots of specific subjects. I don't have to grind out hundreds of prints for gallery shows and customers.

It means I can do all the stuff I enjoy - taking images, developing images digitally and making lovely prints. All without worrying about whether people like my work or not. The truth of the matter is that I like my work and that is quite enough for me. I like looking at my images on the computer screen and I like looking at my prints as they hang on the wall.

I used to put my images up on flickr and pbase to gain an online audience and was moderately successful. But, I got a bit tired of the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" culture where you had to spend lots of time commenting on other people's work so they would come to your gallery and comment on yours. I wanted to spend time taking pictures and making prints, not cruising around online photo sites.

I hope this doesn't sound like sour grapes. I'm really quite genuinely happy that my work is not more popular and hasn't attracted an audience yet. Occasionally I feel guilty for spending money on paper and ink where the prints I make are only for my own enjoyment, but then I think of my musician friends who do home recordings. They are in exactly the same boat as me. They like the process of creating music and laying down track after track and don't really seem to care much if no one else listens to them. I'm sure they feel guilty at times for spending money on guitars, recording equipment and software, but they shouldn't. These are wonderful pastimes that are rewarding in and of themselves.

No audience necessary...