I’m getting older. I’m 61 – and fortunately in reasonably good health. I think I’m a reasonable photographer, maybe a tad better than average, but I’ve certainly not been discovered.
I have spent my photographic life producing work in complete obscurity – well near complete anyway. The people who have seen my work are mostly clients, then camera club folks, then the people that I can bore on a semi-regular basis.
Though this might not be ideal, I am at least, on a par with probably 99% of the photographers that I know, and that is a comfort. There must be billions of people who own cameras, and even more billions of photographs are uploaded to the internet every day. Goodness knows how many get uploaded just to Facebook, without thinking of Flickr, or 500px, or any of the other social media channels. So I suppose I’m in good company.
I don’t suppose for one minute that I’m ever going to be famous. I suspect that the photographers that I know now, who are well known, in my circles are not going to be internationally famous either. So why do we continue? – well, I think it’s because we like to have an audience of sorts, even if it’s of our own compatriots.
Photography is expensive, it can be demanding, we push ourselves to make the best images we can, and sometimes we are rewarded with applause from our friends, or maybe a competition win or two, and this is where there is potential for it all to go wrong. We win something – we achieve a qualification, therefore we are good, and so we should, maybe, be fighting off the adulation from our doors…. NOPE – that didn’t happen either.
Success in competition or accreditation is satisfying. Success in the outside world is rare, and is for the few, but I’m not suicidal yet…..
Fame in the real world is not just about skill, craftsmanship and the ability to produce brilliant images (I see that every time I look at images on 500px), it’s also about chance, luck, and being in the right place at the right time.
Why for example is Ansel Adams (my hero by the way) so famous..? Well I looked it up on Google – and here’s the theory.. He was born in 1902 in San Francisco, California. He rose to prominence as a photographer of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, using his work to promote conservation of wilderness areas – and there we might have it – Conservation of Wilderness areas. He was there, producing images of the wilderness at the time conservation became a big issue in the 1970’s which is when he rose to prominence. His work fitted the situation exactly, and his hard work over previous decades was given credence because he lived and worked there, and because he had a huge catalogue of work already complete.
I’ve been to Yosemite, wondered at the majesty of Half Dome – decided to stand on the bridge that Ansel Adams stood on and get ‘that’ picture of the sunset. Me with the 40 odd other people jostling for position, on what amounted to a small bridge. No – you need to live your own creative life, and not try to live it through the eyes of a hero…
We have no control over who likes our work and who doesn’t – we have more control over who sees our work, but we can’t make them buy it. (It’s great when someone does though) – we cannot have any idea what will happen to our work in the future, and we have no idea if anything we have produced will influence future generations.
All we can say for certain is that our work will still be visible after we have gone, the internet will see to that, and I personally have no idea if my work will influence anyone in years to come. Enjoy it whilst you can…… you do not know what tomorrow may bring.