[I]magine for a moment a world where talent was met with success. The most talented photographer in the world would be the most successful. It's only fair after all that the most skilled has the most success, right? Well, no. This world we are talking about is called Lala land and does not exist. Here's the shocking truth about Photographic Success.
The Shocking Truth
The best kept secret, the shocking truth about success in photography is that talent has very little to do with it. The beautiful lie, but a lie nonetheless is that If you are talented, you'll make it big. I wish it was true, but fact is, business and marketing trump talent at a rate that talent is a non issue in my opinion.
This surely is good news for some, but for most others, who actually work hard are their craft it's downright depressing. It should be the other way around, no? Those who polish themselves, actually doing the work should get the recognition, no? Well, no. It's not about what you do, it's how you sell yourself.
I know quite a few people that do photography at the beginner level and are pretty damn successful, even as teachers believe it or not! Photography at it's core is all about images, and when I see folks being successful for everything but their own photography, it troubles me, I hate it. I wish so much that success was proportional to the level of photography but that is so not the case. That even goes for the Masters, Bresson is much more known than Kertesz while it should be the other way around. I don't like the photography industry for this. Photography should be about pictures but success has very little to do with the skill of the photographer.
With marketing a newcomer to photography can charge $3000 for a service, while an internationally known published and museum photographer can ask for $1000 (Real example, I just won't name names). Goodness, what's wrong with this picture? It despairs me that photography is so much less about pictures and so much more about everything else. Those who think it's about the talent, always starve waiting for their patrons. Those who are brave enough to stick their heads and denounce the photographer as average and overrated get branded as haters. (Note: If you say I'm average, you are a hater 🙂 )
I'm all about looking at your own photography, focusing on it. But when I see someone post by all means the most average of pictures and get high praises for it, I loose faith. Goodness, the kind of stuff I did when I first picked up a camera gets high praises? It's “Amazing” photography? Look, I'm not shooting for the sake of praises, but when someone starts clapping for stuff that's similar to complete beginner photography, and does not do a standing ovation for a spanking, well thought of photograph, I just get absolutely baffled.
I always knew talent is not enough, but today, I lost all faith and will say that Talent has nothing to do with Photographic success. I'm just baffled at people paying $20.000 for an average of averagest wedding photographer while a 5 times more skilled photographer does it for $6000. I'm officially cynical about the Photography Industry, I spent years hoping, I'm done believing in Talent. The more I look at certain photographers, their work and their offerings at the rate of thousands of dollars for services, I just get angry. I won't anymore. Talent has nothing to do with it, a businessman will kill the craftsman photographer any day of the week. I'll start seeing too successful photographers for their skill level as marketers now.
Photography is a business, that's it. Has nothing to do with talent. How else can I rationalize a photographer putting out average photography, and get people to pay for it blindly? Of course, I knew it was a business, but I still had hopes for the value of the images, but looks like nobody cares. Don't believe me? Just look at the top blogs, most are not photographers. Shouldn't the real photographers with talent be on top? Nopes, all you need is a good dose of SEO, basic knowledge of content creation and piggy backing and you are on your way up. It's depressing.
You don't even need to take your own pictures to make a photography article. Gather up some random tips about composition, link good examples from Flickr and you are done. You think people care if you took the pictures? Nopes. I've seen a few of these articles and “What a great article” is written all over the comments. This is where integrity comes in, I choose to respect my readers: if I need to make a point, I will go out and shoot it. That's the “Do” part. But in the photography industry people seem to be less and less interested in the “Do” part and focus on the teaching, completely disregarding the source of information. Most folks bent on selling you a photography product don't work themselves…..they will teach you how to work and not work themselves. What gives?
I think it's disrespectful to th readers-followers to do so. How would you like to come to my website, where I claim to be a photographer, and in my articles only use other folk's pictures? But the again, Photography is a business, and success has nothing to do with talent. If it's easier to hunt Flick than to actually do the work, and people don't complain, can we criticize the author? Thank goodness, there's still some hard working photographers that are photographers first and businessman second. Sure they might not be in the top in the popular mind, but they do the work.
What does this mean for you the reader? Simple: The most popular, the most expensive photographer is probably not the best, only the sharpest businessman & marketer. That even goes for the masters, the best ones aver very much unpopular. Actually it's ironic that the most popular masters always point to the more unpopular ones as their source of inspiration. That's just how things are, I wish it was not true, but that wish dies today: Photographic success has nothing to do with talent, I'm pretty darn sure of it.
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