So You ant To Be A Professional ?

As relevant as when first posted, and possibly becoming more important with each passing day!

The definitearticle Photography

splash screen jpeg10 Ways to Stay in Business

Stephen Bennett has survived the rigours of being a freelance writer/photographer, both full and part time, for almost 40 years.

In that time I haves seen literally hundreds of wannabes, cowboys, faux-pros, scammers,

and Uncle Harry’s make a flurry, and then disappear into the murky depths.

I have found that rather than compete with them, it is far better to ignore them:-

while they may have an immediate effect on the industry, usually on prices, and a general lowering of accepted standards, they will soon disappear after discovering that their “business model”, if indeed they have one, is unsustainable, and what they thought would be a great way to fuel their “passion”, is actually damn hard work.

However they will undoubtedly be replaced by eager souls intent on providing the industry with their particular brand of untutored and cheap, tortured crap…however survival as a…

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Negotiating Exposure for the freelance

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This is Audrie Currie demonstrating a method of estimating the ideal kayak paddle length (you didn’t know there was such a thing as an ideal paddle length did you?) from a picture story of mine which appeared in an actual ink and paper Outdoors Magazine Special on boating and camping.

Although it is not the done thing for freelance writers and photographers to reveal how much they are paid for magazine work, I can reveal that I negotiated a fee close to $1000 for a spread of five photographs and 2000 words, which included a substantial amount for Audrie as model. We received two free copies of the magazine each as well.

This was at a time when such special interest magazines had a monthly, or total contributor budget of between $15,000 and $25,000, and sold around 8 to 10 thousand copies.

A far cry from what masquerades as magazine “publishing” today, where the dreaded words ‘payment for contributors’  is never mentioned in not so polite company, for fear of never working again.

Instead “creatives” (I think that refers to writers and photographers) submit work for the wondrous benefits of mythical “exposure” and the never to eventuate “promise of future work”, (to stroke their own vanity!) while models (they are lumped into either “creatives” or worse still “artists”), are beguiled by weasel words foremost amongst which are “it’ll be great for your folio”.

As a freelance writer, photographer and sometimes illustrator I do a yearly impromptu survey of as many magazines as possible, both newstand and online, and my research shows that of magazines of similar subject matter…outdoor recreation, boating camping, etc…(although in reality very few remain, and those which do are a mere shadow of their former glory)…none promote the need for freelance work, and those few who actually use freelance work pay in either magazine subscriptions, individual copies, or not at all.

This result seems to be typical stretching back at least ten years, and in some cases much longer.

No the era of the online magazine, especially of the vanity type, has arrived with a vengeance, and unfortunately for the majority of freelance writers and photographers, is set to stay.

And of course before this artless, directionless, poorly targeted and basically tacky shit is published at seemingly random intervals, every ‘creative’ involved has to supply a list to the publisher, of everyone who was remotely involved in the shoot, or the writing, including the pizza delivery guy, all their relatives and friends, and supposedly every person and their dog they have come into contact with, so that the “respectable publisher” can spam, bully and badger them into coughing up double the price of a newstand magazine for an ill conceived, poorly planned and hurriedly designed digital downloadwhich actually costs virtually nothing to produce.

Despite this their total sales range from less than ten for some, ( apparently no more than the writer, photographer and model and their mothers in many cases) and up to 500 or so for the better written, produced, marketed and advertised attempts.

Nevertheless, the freelance writer, photographer and model are expected to pay for their own copy.

You know the copy of the ‘magazine’ which is “great exposure for their work”!

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.auand www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

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A Video life

It seems that now every camera, and even mobile phones are capable of recording video, and video clips are everywhere.
However it certainly was not always thus, and due to sheer expense and the required technique, producing either video, and earlier moving pictures on film was an art for the privileged few.

I dabbled with movies from the early days, the same time as I began with still photography. My early efforts relied on second hand Super 8 movie cameras, picked up at junk sales for a few dollars, and lovingly self repaired with mostly rubber bands and sticky tape. Needless to say the results were not Spielberg like efforts, but kept me out of mischief.

When I met Mike Leyland in 1968 or thereabouts – he was later to become half of the world famous Leyland Brothers Films – and had the chance to watch him news gathering for NBN television with a ‘top of the line’ 16mm movie camera, on a tripod even, I was hooked, and decided that news gathering was what I wanted to do in life.

However 10 years went by, before I could even dream of buying such an expensive piece of kit, but one magical day in Wagga Wagga NSW, where I was enduring my first year as a fully fledged and ‘highly paid’ teacher, I was spirited into the back workroom of a TV/Radio repair shop on Baylis Street, where on the workbench, in a very well kept luxury leather case, was a mint condition, and only slightly used Bolex H, clockwork 16mm movie camera, for the extremely reasonable sum of $600.

Purely by serendipity, the next weekend, while testing out my new acquisition at the famous Gumi Boat races on the Murrumbidgee River, I was approached by the general manager of the almost brand new  television station in the town (RVN-2) , who was looking for local news stringers.

Of course I jumped at the chance, although it was a case of after school, and every weekend, roaming to various places, leather cased film camera over my shoulder on a bicycle.

My first effort which appeared on the news, I would regard as pure garbage if I saw it again these days, but then it was a small piece of filmic genius: coverage of a local Polo Tournament Gala Day.

Well, when I rocked up, what I knew about Polo was that it involved horses, and luckily for me, one team was in red strip, the other in blue.

It must have been OK, because a couple of crisp bills and a fresh can of film were pressed into my hand when I delivered it, and every opportunity afterwards was spent at the station under  the guiding hands of the news editor, watching and learning.

In those days, you as a stringer were given a canister of film, which would last four minutes of filming time. You were encouraged to cover two news events, allowing two minutes for each, so you quickly learned to arrive at an event just before the peak of the action, quickly evaluate the best shots, and who or what would make the best vision, and how you could tell an effective visual story in as few a shots as possible.

If you got the film back to the TV station by 4.00pm, your two minute story would be edited down even tighter to 20 to 30 seconds, each piece of footage held together not by slow and carefully glued edits, but by rough pieces of masking tape, and go to air, still dripping wet from the processing chemicals, during the news at 6.00.

However miss the deadline even by a few seconds and your work was wasted never to see the light of day, because you had missed the chemical developing cycle.

However that can of film I had so stretched my budget for to test out my new camera at the Gumi festival was the last I ever bought for myself.

Thousands of feet of film went through that camera, all supplied by television stations: first in Wagga, then later in Sydney, before the camera was reluctantly pensioned off to the storage cupboard.

I finally sold that mighty workhorse in the year 2000, for $600, the same amount I had paid for it, and it still showed very few signs of wear, or the hard use it had received.

I didn’t store my hard won news gathering  expertise away in a cupboard though, because then came the video revolution.

The first video camera I had access to, consisted of a recorder which weighed 35 lb, and was slung over the shoulder, and connected by a tangle of cables to an almost as heavy, and certainly more fragile camera which you heaved onto your other shoulder. The whole shemozzle recorded onto 1″ VHS tape, about the size of a half thickness brick, and had a resolution equal to shooting through the bottom of a coke bottle while rolling around drunk in a black and white fog.

Several generations of video gear later I did my last ENG work heaving an equally heavy Betacam around, the majority of it walking backwards focussing on some politician or celebrity while a sassy little reporter guided me with her hand firmly gripping the back of my pants.

My interest then turned to other things, but all the while the idea of producing video stock clips gnawed at the back of mind, but other things must have been gnawing at my wallet, because there was never a dollar or two left in there to put towards some decent camera gear.

I was almost enticed back to television news when I was commissioned to write a feasibility study, and then teach journalists to gather news as a one man operation rather than a two or three man team, but this was too far ahead of its time and got steep opposition, although it is standard practice these days.

And then Pond 5 video stock agency started up online, though running on nothing but chaos and adrenalin, began to succeed despite themselves.

About this time I discovered the superb and inspiring work of several stock video shooters, notably Andreas Hohl, who was doing great things with consumer level gear, and through his book “Shut Up and Shoot” was giving valuable information to anyone to get on the bandwagon.

So I took the risk and invested in a then top of the consumer HD camera which recorded on 5mm wide tape. This despite several other cameras purchased along the way, including a Standard Definition camera which produces such great video under good lighting and careful exposure that I defy anyone to pick it beside HD, this camera is still my main workhorse.

Yes 4k does beckon, especially now that good gear is as cheap as chips, or in some cases cheaper.

However when you take into account that, despite what the internet gurus say, most of the world’s TV is still broadcast in SD, some stations who proudly and loudly proclaim they broadcast in HD ( only HD 720 not full HD1080) are doing so from SD source material, and that the upgrade for the industry has been such an expensive upheaval from SD to HD that now that they have made the move…Australia’s premier independent broadcaster, the ABC only upgraded to HD earlier this year, and only at one of its stations…I can’t see a real change in the near future to anything else.

And just in case you were wondering, or about to do an ‘internet expert’ dummy spit, yes 4K televisions are all the rage, but they are only upsizing a signal broadcast in HD 720 ( that’s not even full HD which is HD 1080)

So armed with an HD 1080 tape driven video camera I venture forth to discover the world anew. Yes the gear may be old, and some would say out-dated, but so, my friend, am I.

OF SWIMSUITS, FRIED EGGS, AND GOOSEBUMPS…

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Monika braves the dead of winter for her art: one or two goose bumps evident, but not a fried egg in sight.

 

Photographers have it easy these days, especially here in Australia, don’t they?

Just rock on down to the nearest beach, model in tow, and bob’s your uncle: sun and surf, pristine beaches, sparkling seas, glistening sands, and sensationally, sexy sirens  all for the taking.

Bang off a few snaps and magazine covers, exceptional portfolios, and international awards are at your fingertips.

As one marketing monkey put it: beautiful one day, perfect the next!

Or maybe not.

While amateurs, wannabes, and fauxpros fight with searing temperatures, teeming crowds of backpackers, and shadows which would put a panda bear to shame, more seasoned shooters avoid the Australian summer and schedule the majority of swimwear and beach shoots for the more gentle light, milder weather conditions and almost deserted locations at the very beginning of spring, and during the crisp, haze free days of the autumn months.

Which brings me to today.

Shoot with a beautiful bikini babe scheduled well ahead: babe ready, bikinis ready, batteries ready.

Weather forecast checked several times over the past week or so: sunny, pleasant temperatures, chance of rain 10% falling to 2% as the afternoon went on.

It’s a go!

Woke up this morning: raining, cold enough to freeze the tail off a tadpole, windy enough to blow the prawns out of their shells, and beaches closed to due enormous seas and dangerous swells.

Frustration strikes again!

Well what to do, but stand around all day and scratch my bum.

Well at least we are more civilized now than in the past…the ‘pre- digital’ age, when due to film processing times, and long magazine lead times, all swimsuit shoots…well if you wanted nice , sparkling seas and blue skies, and fantastically great pics for summer magazine covers,… took place in mid winter when the model slipped off her parka, her ugg boots, and balaclava, just long enough to smile in her string bikini before she froze her tits off, and the photographer’s finger froze onto the shutter button.

Those were the days when men were men, and photographers and models deserved awards.

Ah well, I’ve scratched my bum, nothing else to do but roll over and go back to sleep.

IS THAT ALL THERE IS ?

Or so sang Peggy Lee, in a bittersweet song about the ironies of despair.

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Behind the scenes pic of model Loula bae  and Yours Truly,                    by Shantel Smith

 

As many of you may have gathered, I have often regretted coming back to photography in recent years, and have constantly wondered what kind of mental impediment is stopping me from giving it all away, and taking up something much easier and far less stressful, such as do it yourself brain surgery…no doubt you can learn it on YouTube!

I have survived through the devaluing of a photograph’s worth from an era when tens, and in many cases hundreds of dollars were happily paid for a competent, serviceable picture; to a time when even high quality photos can be had for a small fraction of a dollar, and the rest for a mere coin or two.

I have heard the self serving bleating of the increasingly vocal agitators who would have us believe that all photographs, and the , ethics, behaviour, normsoutput of all the creative arts in fact, should be free for the taking, for ‘the benefit of mankind’. Unfortunately an increasing number of what I can only assume are brain dead ‘artists’ are actually now supporting this view as well.

Of late there are also a large number of ‘photographers’ who have readily adopted the ‘pay to be published’ lunacy, and the former demon of vanity publishing is slowly being accepted as mainstream and to actually be aspired to: no doubt for that marvellous and mythical creature – ‘exposure’, but as expected the results are of such a abysmal standard, that even the photographer’s mum would balk at forking out the extortionate prices.

For the majority of my photographic career, I have told would be models that all they really had to worry about was the odd sleazebag, who,  with a few skills and a keen bullshit radar, were relatively easy to deal with.

Over the past five years or so the number of sleazebags have exploded exponentially, but when you see what else has developed in that time,  sleazoids are the least of anyone’s worries.

During that time I have witnessed the aggressive monopolizing of any and all girls in the area with even an inkling of becoming a model, by a highly organised gang of pretenders, who promise the world, use them as camera fodder for two or three weeks, before spitting them out disillusioned and demoralised, their dreams shattered, having learned nothing, with little chance of ever getting anywhere in modelling, and with a couple of useless photos in their hot little hands, which if they risk the humiliation after their escapade in futility, agents will tell them, (as many already have,)  are “garbage”.

I have also been told of wannabe models being  reduced to tears, and vilified on social media, because they question the ‘necessity’ of baring all if they actually want to be a ‘real’ model, (and the assumption that they should automatically strip for the neighbourhood hack so he can ‘make them a star’) and others who were roundly criticized for not ” doing their model stuff” properly when given absolutely no direction, or even having the concept of the shoot explained to them.

Another who was a personal friend, was slandered relentlessly on social media simply because she would not continue negotiating by facebook messenger with “photographers” who would not commit to a shoot date and time, required her to come up with not only the theme for the shoot, but also arrange for stylist, and the makeup artist, and even provide the location, or book the studio at her own expense. Most of the criticism came however from her refusal to continue communications with ” photographers” whose only obvious intentions were to ‘chat her up’ or to see selfies of her ‘nekid’.

From the photographers point of view, all that had to worried about in the past, was the occasional jealous boyfriend, or the odd bruise from the biffo of the media scrum. But things have certainly changed now.

I have also seen the good names of photographers of long and proud reputation dragged through the mud by the innuendo and false accusations of secret hate groups on facebook, with no regard to people’s hard won and well established careers. The same despicable hate groups, consisting of what can only be described as gangs of photographic thugs, have also been responsible for issuing physical threats towards totally innocent people, they have never met, or have absolutely no knowledge of, based on no more than that particular photographer’s superior ethical behaviour, their obvious photographic knowledge and abilities which put them on a higher level than the gang members could ever dream of aspiring to, or they were simply seen as unwelcome “competition

I have heard many horror stories as well as personally witnessed photographers verbally, and in one case physically assaulted simply because he was covering an event where children were present…no not as an amateur, certainly not as a GWC, (the lowly regarded, perpetually slimy ‘guy with a camera’), but as staff professionals, and credentialed stringers doing the job they were being paid to do.

I have also been on the receiving end too many times to recall, when ‘mum and pop’ snap-shooters with their dinky point and shoot cameras, have forced their way to the front of a group of working photographers, got their snaps, and then with an organised barrage of friends planted themselves, intentionally and very intrusively forming a mobile wall to prevent anyone else getting a shot.

I have also been privy to paying customers (who incidentally paid dearly) returning to ‘photography studios’ to complain about the atrociously lit, ineptly exposed, hopelessly composed, and cheaply printed individual and family portrait wall prints…what I myself described as blurry mud maps of barely recognisable subjects… to be sent unceremoniously away with assertions that what they had received was ‘state of the art’, ‘creative’ and they wouldn’t get any better ‘art’ anywhere else.

In that time, we have all seen the proliferation of so much misinformation, confusion, lies and deception, trolling and abuse, and downright nonsense via  the internet, that lunacy has become the accepted norm, and mediocrity and ineptitude qualities to aspire to.

I haven’t bothered to mention the personal slander and vilification simply for refusing to be part of the photography gang of heavies, the online trolling and bullying tactics, the surreptitious and ‘poison pen’  emailing of potential models, ( which suddenly resulted in them cancelling shoot dates), the time wasted traveling to see and interviewing girls who never had any intention of standing in front of a camera, those who only wanted ‘pretty pictures’ at no cost, the increasing number of cheap tarts who were labouring under the illusion that merely offering to ‘git naked’ would buy anything and all they wanted.

Not to mention the hours of processing and editing for unappreciative models who had ‘changed their mind’ or decided that their selfies were much better after all. And all the lazy new generation of girls who believed that they would become instant models, (or public figures) and everything necessary would be done for them, their career and untold riches laid at their feet, without them even having to wash their hair, tidy their nails or clean their teeth, or apply a little deodorant.

But then I walk into our little studio, to be met by the enthusiasm, happiness, excitement, generosity, and sheer exhilaration on the faces of my creative director and her overwhelmingly eager assistant, and the beautiful, well thought out and very creative set they have designed and constructed, working voluntarily through the early hours of the morning,

…and I am reminded what it is all about.

And then to see the beaming smile on my favourite model, walk confidently, resplendent in her glamorous alter ego, onto that same set: the enthusiasm, the expectation, the creativity, the dedication, the happiness, the trust, the respect and yes, the love and genuine affection

…and all the shit disappears in an instant, into insignificance.

I know exactly why I started doing this, why I have stuck at it so long, and why I continue to do it now when there are far better and more lucrative things to be doing.

Right from the beginning with the beautiful Bronwen Creevey, who was the first girl I ever photographed, and who went on to modelling success at the top level,  who has been a loyal and wonderful friend for over forty years…

to the exceptional  Lucy Scott,  who has become a very special and cherished friend in just over four weeks…

and all the individual models in between, some who made it big, others who simply enjoyed their fifteen minutes in the spotlight,

but each and every one has made it worthwhile.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.auand www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

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Part Two: The Artist – Diamond amid the sewage

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Abbey Lee braves appearing in a mock up photograph which contains every possible rookie mistake, poor photography technique, awkward and cliché posing, and just downright bad taste, we could come up with, to show up the constant flow of photographs uploaded to the internet on a daily basis, which are almost identical to this in so many aspects, masquerading as ‘art’, created by legions of self proclaimed, and (almost always) ‘international award winning’ photographers, and invariably rewarded by comments of ‘awesome capture’, ‘inspired’, and even ‘you should become a professional’

After careful reading and attention to accepted definitions given in Part One of this blog: “Are You Really Creative?” it seems evident that self proclaimed ‘artists’ are coming from the wrong end of the creativity spectrum.

In this Anti-Intellectual era we are now so blessed to be living in, the time honoured tradition of ‘artists’ only being drawn from the most accomplished, technically expert, and imaginative, with something profound or at least meaningful to express, has been well and truly abandoned in favour of the naive tyro, who not only has little to no experience, but actively shuns the development of required expertise, technical ability, and problem solving skills, in order that ‘creativity’ and the ‘artist’s integrity’ and ‘passion’ should not be corrupted.

The oft heard mantra: “I will succeed because photography is my Passion!” is indeed the cry of the times, no matter how fanciful or delusional it may be.

Armed then, with apparently nothing but their passion, and faith in their own mostly delusional raw talent, most have not, and many will probably never have the talent, ability, motivation, or originality of thought to get anywhere other than demoralising oblivion…and those few who do have the imagination and something original and inspiring to offer, or say to the world, have not the tools, the training, the experience or the knowledge of how to communicate their ideas and vision effectively.

In other words, their own naive attitudes towards creativity and their undeveloped concept of art, actually conspire against them ever acquiring the requisite skills.

Including:

  • Societally induced expectations of reward without work, inability to accept responsibility for one’s own actions or lack thereof, an over-arching belief that the world ‘owes me’, and the nanny state will protect and look after me, a general lack of inquisitiveness, and the desire for instant reward and gratification

  • Lack of effective and properly structured learning opportunities, in which education is increasingly becoming a world of underfunding and poorly trained and lower quality educators, including a preponderance of mickey mouse courses, the blind leading the blind, (or as some would say in more recent vernacular, the blonde leading the blind) style of internet instruction, and the piece-meal approach to learning advanced techniques, without first mastering the required basics

  • Coupled with this are two further aspects: a) so called ‘professional’ courses are increasingly becoming more a way to get people off welfare, rather than preparing them in any useful way for a career, and b) the vast majority of photography courses, excluding a very few high end ones, are not preparing potential professionals for the rigours of a very demanding and shrinking industry, but actually through choice of method and subject matter, and lack of teaching the very important skills of running and effectively promoting a viable business, are simply affirming amateurism.

  • The reliance on long outmoded preconceived fantasy ideas of the role of the artist, which are now actually being heavily promoted by the increasing ultra conservatism

  • The narcissistic delusion of greatness beyond ability, due to the indiscriminate sycophantic adulation of anything and everything posted on social media pages.

  • The rapid demise of former ‘arbitrators of worthiness’ such as print publications, competitive exhibitions and salons, rights managed stock libraries, and their replacement with pay to play vanity publishing; rights grab competitions; accept anything, especially the lowest common denominator micro-stock agencies; and encouragement to self market and self promote, or talk up how great, creative, wonderful, and otherwise talented you are, rather than letting your work show your real abilities.

  • The preponderance of the miracle work of ‘fix it in Photoshop’, where the best of a bad lot, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of attempts, can be readily salvaged and made great by simply, and usually ineptly, applying Photoshop manipulation, or even the complete reliance on ubiquitous, tacky, over saturated and generally over-processed ‘filters’ and ‘presets’, which supposedly turn even the most unbelievably ‘average’ snap into an instant work of art.

It seems that many would be artists have a very naive, immature and uninformed view of creativity, which hasn’t developed beyond the kindergarten level when Miss Prissy set out the poster paints, and suggested that: “we will all be creative today”.

Unfortunately many don’t recognise that there is and always will be a vast difference between having the wonder of a child, and a strong belief in the fantastic: and living, or trying to make a living completely deluded in a fantasy world.

One would think that all that time cloistered in their respective garrets suffering for their art, they would have plenty of time to check out a book or two, thumb through their camera manual, brush up on a little technique, but apparently not.

Imagine what your house would look like if the carpenter or bricklayer relied on nothing but his childhood skill with Lego bricks to do his job; the accountant who relied on his Year One ‘sums’; the architect who designed buildings with two roof-line windows, a door, a tree and a dog in the yard to match his primary school artwork. And the fate of the preschool minded brain surgeon doesn’t bear thinking about!

So why is the artist obsessed with practising his creativity, but abandoning all he has learned between now and then, convinced that he is not merely an artist, but worthy of being a paid professional salary, by relying on some mystical innate ‘inspiration’, divine providence and the results of simply by buying a paintbrush and canvas, a camera, a hammer and chisel, or any of the tools required by the various arts, and believes his first play sessions with them will produce nothing but masterpieces?

The age old Hollywood quip claims it takes twenty years to become an overnight success, but does it really?

Experience and serious study of successful artists from the past would seem to suggest it takes something more akin to a lifetime, filled not with simply practising the art-form, but acquiring knowledge, inquisitiveness and appreciation of all aspects of the world, vast life and love experience, serious study as well as careful observation, as maybe even a healthy does of the perhaps more flippant ‘life is just a bowl of cherries’ aspects as well.

The starving artist slaving away in his garret, for little or no recompense, and nothing but recognition by facebook friends, has always been a total myth, part of the false romance of the artist more or less promoted by those without any artistic talent whatsoever, or who have wished to portray the arts and artists as ‘ne’r do wells’, as a waste of space, or contemporaneously, a ‘lifestyle choice’ for the unemployables, and a ‘drain on the economy’.

So why the hell are contemporary artists not only falling for this guff, but actually promoting it, especially by accepting piteous pennies for work they do, working for free, pretending sanctimony by offering their work under ‘creative commons’ type exploitation, actively undercutting prices of real artists, churning out ‘masterpieces’ and ‘awesome images’ which in reality are little more than learning exercises, or worse still, should have been binned as a total failure, or an omen of talentless incompetence?

A Picasso, a Pollack, or any number of artists from the last 100 years, may look childlike, even childish on the surface, and inspire insipid phrases such as surely little Jimmy could that, even I could do better…it seems however that every little Jimmy nowadays is giving it a go, to an avalanche of cries of ‘awesome’, ‘inspired work’, and a ‘Like’ thumbs up.

With total disregard of the fact that it takes many years of hard work to achieve such childlike simplicity, and awe of wonder.

As model photography is the go to genre of wannabe photographic artists, it is no wonder that the cliché phrase ‘anybody can take great picture of beautiful woman’ springs to mind.

But can they? A quick scan of facebook ‘internationally award winning, published, professional photographers’ will soon show the opposite to be more likely…that it is incredibly easy to make a good looking girl look downright ugly.

Who hasn’t heard the bleating of amateur photographers whenever they gather in whining herds of more than two: Don’t use her as a model; she’s no good; her tits aren’t big enough; she’s got a belly on her; she might be good looking but a she’s a real bitch. And so they refuse to photograph anybody at all, holding out for the perfect model who will never come their way due to their attitude, and their uncanny ability to make the perfect look less than attractive.

Then there is the group who go other way, and accept all and sundry as camera fodder, with promises of “stick with me honey and I’ll make you a star”: hence the parade of gross snapshots of less than average girls with broken teeth, lifeless eyes, dull, unwashed hair, hideously coloured and shaped false nails, orange suntans, wall to wall tattoos, and all the wonderful, and exclusively amateur fantasies built around total misunderstanding of terms such as ‘plus size’ and ‘alternative modelling’.

But it takes an artist with an accumulation of knowledge, technique, problem solving ability, understanding of human psychology, a real affinity with people, and experience to make an average, less than confident, or a girl of low self esteem into a stunning photograph…that is what creativity is all about.

No its not making a silk purse out of a sows ear…that is just as impossible as making an artist out of a person who has owned his camera for no more than a day or two…it is merely using all the required skills of a true photographer (artist if you wish to stick with that pretentious, overused term) to draw the best from their subject.

As far from a first attempt snapshot as you can get, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, if at all. Even more-so, for those who rely on nothing but unsubstantiated faith in themselves, and blind ‘passion’.

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:

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Part one: Are you really Creative?

 

You call yourself a Creative, but are you really?

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The internet, especially the social media sites such as facebook, and ‘photography’ pages like flickr, and 500pix are today awash with photographs, which while claiming to be ‘professional’ and ‘creative’ are really nothing more than snapshots: banal, cliché ridden, dated, bereft of any compositional aspects, aesthetically bankrupt, technically incompetent, corny, dull, hackneyed, derivative, antiquated, repetitious to the point of mere clones inspired no doubt from ‘inspo’ or ‘mood boards’, insipid, mawkish, trite, and particularly unoriginal and platitudinous.

Many otherwise adult photographers don’t seem to have developed their concept of creativity beyond Kindergarten level, when Miss Prissy set out finger-paints and gasped: “Today we are all going to be creative, kiddies!” And this naive immaturity, without any of the innate charm implicit in the ‘creations’ of the infant, shows:- oh so painfully! Obvious to everyone, except of course their legions of Facebook followers, who never hesitate to ‘Like’!

And it would seem that, in true Orwellian irony, that those who try the hardest to convince all and sundry, especially themselves, how creative they are – a social media pastime which has reached the participation level of an international sport – the more devoid of any kind of creativity is their output.

There is even what seems to be a highly vocal movement (certainly locally, but apparently internationally) who only refer to themselves, and their recognised fellow elite, as “Creatives” – their ‘work’ however, suggests quite the opposite!

So what is this “Creativity” actually all about, what does it mean to be ‘creative’, and what kind of practices does it entail.

In other words: Are you, and indeed I creative, doing any kind of creative work, or are we just kidding ourselves?

A consensus of respected dictionaries, both real world and online, would have it that:

Creativity is perhaps best described as a combination of inventiveness, imagination, inspiration, and perception.

Therefore let us have a look at the generally accepted meanings of each of those parts, as well as the word ‘Creative’ itself:

Definitions:

CREATIVE

  • relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something.

  • having the quality of something created rather than imitated

  • resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.

  • to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

  • to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

And the accepted definitions of each part of the whole:

INVENTIVE

  • having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally.

  • showing creativity or original thought.

  • apt at inventing, devising, or contriving.

  • apt at creating with the imagination.

  • pertaining to, involving, or showing invention.

  • a new, useful process, machine, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognised as the product of some unique intuition or genius, as distinguished from ordinary mechanical skill or craftsmanship.

  • devising, or originating.

  • an act or instance of creating or producing by exercise of the imagination, especially in art, music, etc.

IMAGINATION

  • the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

  • the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality

  • ability to confront and deal with a problem

  • the thinking or active mind

  • a creation of the mind;

  • the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

  • the action or process of forming such images or concepts.

  • the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery.

  • the product of imagining; a conception or mental creation, often a baseless or fanciful one.

  • ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness:

  • a job that requires imagination.

  • the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images (reproductive imagination) or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images directed at a specific goal or aiding in the solution of problems (creative imagination)

INSPIRATION

  • the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

  • the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

  • the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

  • an inspiring or animating action or influence:

  • something inspired, as an idea.

  • a result of inspired activity.

  • a thing or person that inspires.

  • divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

  • the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.

PERCEPTION:

  • the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

  • awareness of something through the senses

  • the neuro-physiological processes, including memory, by which an organism becomes aware of and interprets external stimuli

  • the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.

  • awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation

  • physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience

  • quick, acute, and intuitive cognition

  • a capacity for comprehension

  • the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

  • immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment:

  • an artist of rare perception.

  • the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving

So if you accept the definitions above, and there is really no reason to dismiss them, several criteria would need to be taken into consideration, before a work can be legitimately called ‘creative’:

  1. Imagination

  2. Originality, evolving from one’s own thought

  3. Created not imitated

  4. Newness, the result of unique intuition or genius, based on knowledge, experience, resourcefulness, skills, and craftsmanship

Apply these definitions to your own work, and decide how it measures up in the ‘creativity’ stakes.

Part Two of this BlogState of the Art, coming next, will show by example the myriad of simple, rookie mistakes and common problems witnessed in so many photographs posted on the internet on a daily basis, and claiming to be ‘awesome captures’, ‘superb shots’, and even ‘art’, which have so many seasoned and experienced photographers tearing their hair in frustration, and lamenting the current level of corruption and possible demise of ‘creativity’.

Part Three of this BlogThe Artist: Diamond amid the Sewage, coming soon”, will explore the photographer as ‘Artist’, and whether ‘Creativity’ is enough to proclaim a specific photograph, or body of photographic images as ‘Art’

 

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