Becoming a new film photo professional

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by arigram, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I guess, it is my time to step on the soapbox. I’ll try to make it short.
    Even though this is highly personal, it is not whining and so I posted it
    Here in hopes people won’t ignore it. I really didn’t know where it fit.

    It is just that this is very important to me and needed to share it with someone in hope I get a wise advice or two, even though I don’t know who I am addressing, so please be gentle! I am just a young, naïve boy lost in this big cruel world.

    After studying fine arts in the US for seven years (started with computer animation and multimedia and through sculpture and drawing I ended up in Japanese painting) I came back to Greece, did my one year military service and now I live in my birthplace, at the ugly city of Iraklio, in the pretty island of Crete.

    For a year now I have been working at my father’s newspaper.
    It’s a small, daily paper but with a history from the 50s.
    A few months ago, I came upon what looked like my lucky break.
    With EU money, the Greek government is funding many different programs and one in particular focused on young people who want to start their own business. One of the proposed categories said “photographic business” and I dove into it.
    I researched, asked and thought a lot, paid a good sum of money to a company to do the papers for me and I waited. And waited. And waited.
    It’s been some months now…

    Ok, so, here’s the juicy part, the “photographic business” of mine: “artistic photojournalist” I call it and I think you get the idea as I need to explain it to everybody. Not daily snapshots of the mayor or the traffic accident but focused projects that take time to investigate and will lead to a body of work for papers, magazines, exhibitions and books. With a focus on people and their social circumstances. On film. In black and white. With a Hasselblad. Combining it with my journalistic work for the newspaper (which involves international news, travels, culture and interviews).

    The money I asked is very little comparatively but too much money to raise on my own with the breadcrumbs I get here in Greece (wages are extremely low and life is extremely expensive). Yet, there are exactly what one needs to start up.

    So its money for Hasselblad lenses and accessories, camera companions (filters, tripod, lightmeter, etc), darkroom equipment and renovation for professional use (real sink, rotary processor, etc), small studio set up (strobes, backgrounds, etc), supportive digital equipment (computer, scanner, etc) and film, paper and chemistry for the beginning.

    When I started working on this thing I was extremely excited and optimistic. It was not just something to make money of (which honestly I don’t think I will) but I thought it would give me the opportunities to do the things I like the most: travel and meet interesting new people with my artwork. And help people if I can.

    I am a very self-centered solitary person that loves to close in himself and disappear with his art making but photography has helped me open up a bit.
    All the other artwork of mine (drawings, paintings, sculpture) comes from within and it has been wonderfully new to me to investigate the outside world. I have traveled for the newspaper and for myself in many parts of the world but there is so much more to see with my eyes and the lens.

    I have put all my eggs in this basket and I hope they won’t all break.

    So, what do you think? I am an naïve idiot to think that photography can help my life?
    I am cursed to be an artist by birth. I can’t do anything else, even if I tried. I never wanted to be an artist by profession though , but there it is, I can’t do otherwise. I don’t like commercial, applied arts (advertising, weddings, etc). I don’t want to make my living off computers (because I have been dealing with them in depth for more than fifteen years and I don’t like it).

    Am I being stupidly unrealistic?

    As a side note, I have not been enjoying my life here at all. I barely have any friends or anything fun to do. I don’t like the Greeks and their miserable attitude nor the backwards and depressing Greek society. future here doesn’t promise much. I always felt and was treated like an alien here even before I left for the US. The newspaper has been all what is keeping me here and has not been doing very well for many years now. Yet, I will stick with it until the bitter end. I could leave for another country though. In the EU and possibly Mediterranean…
     
  2. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    Sounds like you know what it is you need to be doing, and are following that, being true to yourself. Sounds cliché, but it applies.

    I started doing the same thing five years ago...quit my company job and hung out my shingle. However, I realised I had to do the commercial stuff to make a living, and that has afforded me the opportunity to do my own thing. I think there's always a bit of give and take involved.

    Now I am close to realizing a more idealistic place, and would not have attained this had it not for "prostituting" myself some. (shooting events..fundraisers, weddings, parties, etc.). The nice artistic commercial job comes along every so often to "feed my soul".

    I am, like you, tired of where I am living and am making plans to change that. My advice is to research other geographic locales that will offer you the type of work you wish to pursue, and quality of life you hope to have and make a plan.

    As far as photography "helping" your life, do you have a choice there? Seems you mentioned it as an innate part of who you are. If it enriches your life, (i.e. soul), then keep at it. I believe pursuing one's passion and being happy doing so will eventually reap rewards, even monetary.

    Embrace the environment as best you can, try to see the locals in a different light. Perhaps a journalistic inquiry into the core of "being Greek" would be a worthwhile project. Some in depth portraits combined with some history. I know the world in general was captivated by the Greek culture during the olympics...a story about life after, might be a thought.

    Search out others who share your artistic nature...befriend them.

    It's easy to not do anything to make a change in one's life, as change is scary to some or most. But making a plan and realizing it, is rewarding in itself.

    For some reason you ended up where you are now. Make the best of it, make the plan, and keep truckin'.
    Best of luck.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you've got the vision and the drive, don't worry about the technology issue. Look at the work of people like Salgado and Sylvia Plachy who do something that might be called "artistic photojournalism," and film is very much part of their aesthetic. Just go out, shoot, and get the shots into print.
     
  4. Carol

    Carol Member

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    I hope you get the funding you have applied for Arigram. Could be the first step in a whole new life for you. Very best of luck.
     
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Of course not!! But, you have to realize that the first step in becoming successful at anything is to develop a willingness to pay the necessary price. It may be making very little money, it may mean doing assignments you don't want to do. If you love it enough, you will eventually find a way to be able to do what you want with it.

    However, I do think that you need to reflect on a few things. Your message showed a deep disappointment with where your life has left you to this point - we all feel that way at sometime point in our life. As someone already suggested, how about doing an assignment on "being Greek"? You would be surprised how many people are interested in Greece as a country - many people would do anything to be able to visit the various Greek islands. Start there. This assignment may help you become more comfortable with who you are and where you live.
     
  6. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Matt,

    I wish you the best. Keep me informed, I'd love to hear how you are doing.
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    You have found yourself in a catch 22. You are tired of Greece and wish to leave. Yet if funded you will have to stay. You are drawn to your family paper but hate your existence there.

    What I would do.

    If I no longer wish to live somewhere I would leave. I have lived a few places and never once regretted the move.

    Get yourself spartan photography equipment, that is easily transportable and venture to where you think you would like to live. Contact local photographers there and try to get work assisting, to learn technique, both people and equipment wise. If not, just get a job, and in your spare time work on your projects and make yourself happy.

    In my opinion, living somewhere you don't like, will stifle your creativity all the way to your soul. Follow your dreams and the world will part and let you through.

    Michael
     
  8. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I think it's a great idea. Good Luck!
     
  9. Leonidas

    Leonidas Member

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    Follow your dream!!!

    "Pote tha kani ksasteria........."
     
  10. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Many sincere thanks for all that replied.
    It does look like an adventure and that's what I am looking for.
    The last thing I want from my life is a predetermed, dull and lazy existance.
    Last few years have been full of 180 degree turns and great surprises and I
    kinda like that.

    I have to be honest though. The only thing that scares me is wedding and social event photography. If I am forced to do that I will look for something else to do.
    I tend to say:
    "There are two things one can do in life: the things he likes to do and the things he doesn't. Both are hard to do. The choice is yours."

    We'll see how it goes...

    Thank you all again.
     
  11. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Arigram:

    I feel for you; I wish you all the best. I applaud your courage in wanting to make a change. I know how hard it is.

    I am a physician, an occupation that is often thought of as lucrative and prestigious. It can also be a soul-killing burden if you do not feel a "calling" to the profession. Only later in life did I realize that I really wanted to be a writer/photographer. I have responsibilities that currently prevent my just chucking everything to pursue this dream. But I am working on the dream in parallel to my daily grind, looking to make a break for myself.

    No advice to offer you--best of luck my friend.
     
  12. haris

    haris Guest


    Well, Arigram, as George Bernard Shaw said in his novel "Man and Superman": "Reasonable man try to adjust himself to the world. Unreasonable man try to adjust the world to himself. That is why all progres on the world is upon unreasonable man".

    Good luck

    Well, come to Bosnia and Hercegovina, and when you return you will think Greece is paradise. For example, we in Bosnia even don't have chance for those EU programs. Because we here don't have those programs. Lucky you for live in EU... :smile:

    Good luck
     
  13. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Success

    This Monday, I received a small but thick envelope from the program's authority. My application has been accepted and I was granted 90% of the requested money for equipment. The only thing is they didn't accept my request for consumables (film, paper, chemicals).
    Of course, there was no check attached to the papers.
    The reply took about five months.
    To get the money I have to acrobatically jump through a lot of burocrautical flaming hoops and it could take a while.
    Considering I have already gotten a couple of well paying projects, my anxiety about this whole affair has topped.
    Tomorrow morning I am starting the whole paperwork marathon so I am still not throwing a party.

    Wish me good luck in surviving the buraucrats.
     
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  15. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Since this is an update of your original post, I take it you are still in the city you hate and have now received the approval for the money you need to start a studio.

    You proclaim this as success and seem happy yet uncertain.

    Please let us know if you still hate where you live and if you still wish that you could relocate to a different place.

    I would love to celebrate your achievement, if in fact that is what you really want or is this just what happened while you were making up your mind what you wanted.

    Let us know.

    MIchael
     
  16. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Allright.
    It has not been an easy thing on my mind.
    At first I was extremely enthusiastic and optimistic, but the months passed while I sitted on burning coal and waited and waited...
    I had a lot of time to think.

    Yes, I don't like this city, but then again, there is not a city in Greece I like. It has to do with them been quite ugly and suffocating and the society been quite behind the times. I don't believe in the "let's all move to the capital" mantra that destroyed many third world countries where the capital sucks all the development and people from the rest of the country.
    So, I thought of leaving Greece. I would probably move either to Italy or Spain, as I love the Mediterranean too much.
    Its development of the cities I dislike not the place anyway.
    I love Crete and Iraklion being a small city isn't that bad. Its easy for one to get out of it.

    Now that I have the reply from the funding authority and the ok from the bank to get the money quicker and easier, I decided to give it another chance.
    I have already made some contacts for work projects and might even start working professionally while I am still remodelling the darkroom. I have to see how I will pull this off.

    If my social and business life becomes better, I will give Greece a few more years. I am starting to get old and soon the society will expect stupid things like getting married and having children, something I am trying to put off as much as I can!

    If the work will start forcing me to move to Athens, I will leave Greece before that happens.

    Thank you Blansky for your concern and interest.
     
  17. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    What are the options when this money and equipment come. What are the stipulations. Can you live anywhere in Greece, or do you have to stay in the city you don't like. Can you leave the country after a certain period and take the equipment with you.

    This is like deciding to marry a beautiful woman with 3 kids because she gave you a "taste". It seems like a good idea but you may be in for lifelong commitment with someone you don't love and will make you miserable. Or not.

    I hope you make the decision that will fulfill you.


    Michael
     
  18. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I will have to keep this business for five years.
    I am not sure of all the legal details regarding the moving of the business to another city or even country but I guess its fairly restricting. We will see how it goes.
    The good thing about photography is that I am not restricted to a "shop", outside of my darkroom that is, so I can be pretty mobile.

    I have thought about this a lot. Quite a lot.
    But the future doesn't exist, it is what you make of it. And I am working for a good future, that's all I can do.

    So do I Michael, so do I...
     
  19. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Arigram:

    In the grand scheme of things, five years is not a long time. I dare say that it will take you at least a year or two to get it off the ground. The only thing that I would suggest is that you set yourself a target date by which you must decide if the venture is going to make it, or if its just sapping the life out of you and you need to pull the plug. Is it five years? Ten? Only you can decide...

    Perhaps you can supplement your income by continuing to do something for the newspaper...think food, clothing and shelter...

    ...and don't be so down on Crete. Sometimes the things that we take for granted are the very things that others may find attractive. Try looking at your town from a different perspective and see what happens...

    Very best of luck to you. I hope the venture takes off.

    Joe
     
  20. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    So true. I think you're going in the right direction. Good luck.
     
  21. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    Just want to wish you the best of everything in the future, regardless which path you choose I hope the bumps are few and an easy grade along the way.
    I believe most all of us have at least once in life felt the pain, confusion, and near dispair of what you are going through. Simply understand, while you are on this journey you have many friends supporting you and your dreams. Never feel alone, people all over the world care about you! And are behind your every move! Good luck!

    Charlie
     
  22. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Wow guys you are going to make me cry seriously!
    *sniff*

    Thank you for your support and understanding!
     
  23. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Popped my cherry!

    I just had my first professional portrait!
    Yeay!

    Elections for city officials are coming so my father managed to get me a couple of politicians to sit for portraits.
    The first one was easy. He didn't mind shooting either BW or color so I did both in similar poses. I also only used the studio where the second one wants mostly color and at his house, with his family and all so it will be a tiny bit more involved.
    Of course the photographs themselves are not artistically importand in any way, but they must come out well.
    I managed to find a bunch of Fuji Reala 100 in 120 which is a feat in this day and age.

    The only problem I faced really was the heat which has been unbearable for the last couple of days and my studio lacks A/C at present.

    I was thinking of squeezing out of them three hundred euros each.
    Here in Greece that seems like a good amount of money, but I figured out, they are politians, they need the photos...

    Here's a couple of polaroids of my first guy.
    (ignore the technical matters such as the visible strobe...)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2008
  24. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    Ari,

    I find the first one full of distractions, right behind his left shoulder, top and lower right corners also, the second is much better.

    Cheers

    André
     
  25. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Thank you Andre, but the polaroids I posted are just tokens of the session. We tried different poses.
     
  26. catem

    catem Member

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    I wish you luck in whatever you choose to do!

    Cate