On Making It as an Artist

I’m coming across some ranty stuff off Joe Reifer’s blog lately. The latest being a link to yet another rant against a career in fine art photography. The last one I read was Chip Simon’s online self destruction on APE.

I’m sympathetic, to a point. But being an artist was never easy, unless, as the blogger writes, you have a patron. And artists throughout history have needed patrons to pay the bills. And they painted portraits and did other kinds of mundane side jobs (read “day jobs”) to keep them going. It’s kind of a oddity, really, that we lived through an era in the late 20th century where people could make a lot of money from music or art. I think a lot of that had to do with movies, tv, and magazines. Not everyone could be on tv. Not everyone could be in the movies. Not everyone could write, or post their photos in a magazine. Not everyone could make their own records. It cost real money to do that. And with everyone focusing on these scarce media, it created kind of a fantasy in every aspiring artist’s mind about how they would make it some day.

The Internet, and the dropping price of technology in general, has changed all that. It’s empowered people. And drawn eyes and interest away from the old media. And they are feeling the heat. And by extension, the hard working (and lucky) ones who fed them their art. Yes, there is a ton of pedestrian art (and non-art) out there on the internet (you can say mine is too–I won’t be offended–I’ve rarely called it art, let alone “fine art”. Who invented that term, anyway?). But there is a lot of great stuff (call it what you will) getting exposure that never would have gotten exposure otherwise.

And then there is the equipment. Such good equipment! So cheap (when you consider what it can do)! The cameras, the printers, the papers, the software, the instruction, etc. etc. etc.

All I can say is, there has never been a better time to be a professional photographer, and probably never a worse time either.

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