Just when you think you have nothing more to really say about the state of the photography/wedding industry because you just don’t care enough about it anymore, something tips you over the edge again.
I was recently asked to submit some photographs to a (in my eyes) ridiculous institution that promotes nothing but a stylised, trendy and popular wedding imagery. I completely understand that I wasn’t singled out to apply, but that hundreds of emails would have gone out some very excited, humbled and blessed wedding photographers. I…..am none of these things. I have one person to thank for what I’ve achieved, and that’s me.
So, as an exercise I clicked on 30 (I might have given you clue here) of my portfolio images, answered a couple of questions then left my fate to the gods of mediocrity. I did, at the time, have a joke with a friend about what they would think of my photographs.
Anyway, the inevitable rejection email arrived, an email so riddled with trendy embellishment it was a little awkward to read.
The main section, after saying that I clearly wasn’t good enough, read like this –
The good news is, our editor-in-chief ………………… has offered to give a personal critique of your work, should you desire a little more insight into our decision. While we noticed this is your final year to submit, getting her feedback can be really valuable in submitting to other competitions going forward. Sometimes the thing that held the judges back is actually fairly straightforward and fixable as you continue onward, so finding that out can bring a little peace of mind. Like I said, competition was super tough this year. (Super tough, no wonder I didn’t make the cut)
Again, I want to thank you again so much for taking the time to gather your work, answer our questions and send us your submissions during a very busy time of year for you as a wedding photographer, and we hope that the process of putting your 30 photos together was an enlightening or at the very least interesting task, as we’ve heard from other photographers.
“getting her feedback can be really valuable in submitting to other competitions going forward”
Really? ……So if I take someone else’s idea of what, and how I photograph I can hope to be successful in other competitions. But what if other Judges are looking for something different, or if trends change, or just like yourselves they are’t prepared to look outside of their small comfort boxes? I’d spend my whole life running around in circles, never understanding who I am as an artist and will never truly develop an understanding of what I do and why I’m doing it. I will forever be trying to copy the photographers who have been awarded god like status and will be in a perpetual state of unworthiness.
I think I’ll pass on that, I’m happy with where I’m going thanks.
I added a quip to Facebook with regards to this experience with added tounge in cheek cheekiness like, yeah they can eat a dick, and, they wouldn’t know a good photograph it kicked them in the nuts…. Which received some interesting response. Mostly people will get that I’m just poking fun at the ridiculousness of the industry, but others, well……
“if you don’t accept the judge thoughts it’s easy, don’t take part to the race”
“I think you’d use different words in case you’ve been selected to be one of those 30”
“And I’d really love to see you in front of ………. editorial staff using the same word”
Yeah, man. I’m sure I’d be quaking in boots. Like I give a shit what their editorial staff think of my work.
It’s nothing more that prodding an industry that’s hell bent on homogenisation. I care not for them, or any other awarding body for that matter. I take an iconoclastic stance on all that threatens freedom of imagination. My words would be different if they had accepted my photographs. I would congratulate them on looking for more than popular trend, for promoting individuality. But that would have come with it’s drawbacks too……I can’t imaging how many more emails I’d get from other wedding photographers asking what gear I use, and what my settings were for that shot. Attention I can do without, thank you very much.
I had an idea that this post would be about the award thing, but, in a cruel twist of fate, it became about other photographers. Who, might I add, are the only people that care about how many awards other photographers have.
This sparked conversation in other places – Man, people really don’t like it when you laugh at their most coveted institutions.
A mate of mine directed me to a thread where the discussion had turned to responsibility, of popular artists, the responsibility to not be a dick.
Right, here’s the thing. I have a huge responsibility, to me, to photography, (It’s one of the very few things I give a shit about) to the people that commission me to be my best, to be me, to do what I do, to not fucking do it like everyone else, to be an individual, to not pretend be something I’m not, to be honest in all situations, and to not bow down to an industry that cripples the creative nature of all who are in involved, for their own gain.
I have, somehow, become well known within the photography community and have amassed a few followers. Honesty, I didn’t fucking ask for you to follow me, and I certainly don’t have any responsibility to you, or the photography industry…I especially don’t have any responsibility to the wedding industry and it’s tedious hyperbole. If you follow me with an expectation I will appease your every mood, or I will only post things you will agree with, or that I am somehow some sort of guiding light for you, you will, undoubtedly be disappointed. Me not living up to your expectations isn’t my fault.
Follow some other sucker, get over yourselves, stop taking everything so seriously, and don’t forget to eat a bowl of dicks.
Lots of love,