Friday, January 27, 2012

The Year Of The Commercial Photograph

So this is the Year of the Commercial Photograph.

Brooke Embry of Tidepool and I have been discussing the year past, and have been pondering the idea that all the attention that ECHOLILIA has gotten, and that we have fueled for sure, may have derailed the commercial career a bit.

Is this true? Hard to say...especially in these current times when every consultant and every creative is asking to see "personal work". But it's a balance...once these images are identified with you, they become your brand...they become you, for better or worse. Alec Soth, in his first blog, wrote about this insightful sentence in 2007 in a post about a visit I paid to his class. He was referring to the book Sex Machines : Photographs and Interviews:

 "After publishing this provocative book, Archibald’s “sentence” was pretty much carved in stone. This seems to be one of the side effects of photographing something especially juicy."

His words actually rang true for years. But I kinda think ECHO eclipsed it, and my sentence may have gone from being the Sex Machine Photographer to being the guy who photographs his kid. The Dad Photographer. And of course there is now a new project that is odd and about family and really there is nothing commercial about it at all, but my energy is flowing there.

But oh...let's forget all of that work. That doesn't put food on the table. Let's now close our eyes, focus on craft, and steer our efforts toward the pleasure and joys of Commercial Photography. Will it rewrite my sentence? No. But balance is the goal that keeps all of these things afloat. 


Fred Levy said...

Hi Timothy,

I'm not so sure about this. More photographers, like me, are finding you because of these personal projects you do and, like me, love the work. I'd guess that art buyers and publishers would be following you as well so when you do send out promotions, either email or postcards, you would have a greater name recognition. My experience in business of photography is very new and I'm looking into all kinds of avenues but I think there must be value in the personal work you do for your professional work.
It could be the oposite problem too of people seeing your work everywhere and assuming you must be too busy to do their projects.
Or I could just be over thinking the whole thing. Regardless, I'm a big fan.

Tony Fouhse said...

Hi Tim, and let me say: I hear ya.

I have a vague feeling the same thing has happened to me. I'm now the guy who hangs around with drug addicts. And I believe that, as much as the commercial/creative powers that be might like to define themselves as "open", when push comes to shove, they aren't.

And the word verification for this comment is, really: "suprized".

Timothy Archibald said...

Thanks Fred and Tony for chiming in here.

Oh, the personal work is not going to stop, for any of us doing it, but life would be easier if the "personal work" was something the harmonized with commercial work a bit more.

With my work, and Tony's for sure, it just isn't meant to be. And if we are doing the right thing, these projects define us...but it would be nice to "cash in", as gross as that sounds...on the best work you create.

But you do need to make your photographs, and the best work will get noticed. It would be nice to be noticed for being a highly compensated commercial photographer, but ya gotta accept what opens the doors for you. And then steer it from there.