Commercialism - and the dirty people who practice it

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by blansky, May 6, 2004.

  1. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I was somewhat amused to read in a few of the posts lately about the total disdain for the so- called commercialism of photography.

    JDEF, as is his right, believes that virtually any image done for money is somehow crass and derivative, as well as generally boring. What seems to appeal to him is pictures taken in a family environment showing a loving interaction.

    Fine that works for me too.

    Michael A Smith stated that there are times while driving along, that he saw a vista, but would not stop his truck for it, because he deemed it too commercial for his sensibilities, and he would not sully himself or stoop so low as to take this picture and accept money for it.

    We should all be so moral.

    I, and a few others here take IMAGES ( I just said that to piss people off) sorry, photographs, that we fully intend to sell to people. We intend to sell as many and in as big a sizes as possible, to as many people as we can. We intend to blow these things up as big as they will go, in order to collect as much money as possible. We fully intend to wear the numbers off these poor unsuspecting soul’s credit cards, to squeeze every last ounce of blood from them. And we will smile the whole time.

    However we do, and have for years, spent most of our spare time studying and learning everything we can about this craft. We join groups, webgroups, associations, and fraternities to grow and understand this medium. We buy equipment, rent equipment, and build equipment to further enhance our chosen profession.

    We are the people who make memories for millions of families for get togethers, weddings, birthdays, or just because they need a reminder of their families at this time in their lives.

    We are the people who fill the pages of magazines, newspapers, and text books. We are the people who illustrate the ads for all the products that you hate but still flock to the stores to buy, every single day.

    We are the people who shame you onto buying the closet full of clothes that you bought because you didn’t think you were worthy, without them.

    We are the people who took the pictures that got you into wars and the people that took the pictures that got you out of them.

    We are the people who broadened our horizons and went into motion picture making to influence the world with our movies.

    We are the people who have recorded history for the world since we first started using this medium, and have collectively recorded most or the people on the planet. Early on we only accepted chickens and goats for our efforts but have since learned that money is better.

    We do this every day, prostituting ourselves for the filthy money that we take home to further our obsession. You have no idea at the shame we feel about this. However, we have managed to hold our heads up high, while we pass you on the street, as you go to your jobs, and collect your salaries to feed those same families, that we will one day perhaps prey upon.

    Even in our shame, we will happily supply you with our expertise on this medium, so that you can, on the weekends, take out your cameras, and produce photographs, not tainted by commerce, that perhaps will hang one day in the galleries for the morally upright.

    We do this so you will have the self- satisfaction in knowing that you practiced your art in a moral and wholesome manner, and never once did you sell out and accept money for your efforts.

    We of the commercially unwashed salute you.


    Michael McBlane
     
  2. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    LOL!!! I like you, Michael.

    From one photographic prostitute to another, well said.

    - CJ
     
  3. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Careful Michael, next you will be accused of being a conservative.
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    And "America the Beautiful" was hummed eloquently in the background. Upon the final statement A member of the choir draped the American flag over michael's shoulders. The blazing orange sun slipped beyond the hoizon as quietly as the crowd, wiping tears from their eyes, slowly walked from the gathering.

    On a serious note that was well said Michael. Those who make a living from their cameras have my respect.

    I am a bit confused by the statements of those who feel commercial photography is of lesser quality. Hell I see plenty of shots that I wish I had the vision necessary to take. Jody Dole is amazing (100% digital these days but I can forgive him). The person or persons who shot the Victorias Secret commercials and subsequent stills has me in Awe. (and I am not being a sexist pig who slobbered over the girls either!)

    What is it exactly that people do not like? This question has yet to be answered with anything but silence.
     
  5. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Being a photo whore aswell I can see your point, but don't really see the need to express it in this company.

    There are many different kinds of artists. Those that produce "art by the yard" for quick sale at reduced prices, those that price there stuff in the stratosphere because they just feel it's worth it, those that give it away and those that see it more as a business. Each is correct in their own sphere and develop their own criteria for justifying it. Hey we all have to feel good about ourselves at the end of the day.

    I think most of the participants on this board are serious amateurs and as such can take whatever high road they wish, as their livelyhood is not dependant on the sale of their art. There's nothing wrong with their opinions it's what is to be expected.

    My former wife is an academic. I use to have to go to endless parties where all these PhD's would sit around and pontificate on the moral backruptcy of todays business world. Now this coming from people who either have never worked in the "real" world, or were so maladjusted they couldn't survive. It's easy to rest on your laurels when you don't really have to produce anything anyone wants to pay for. I can only speak to the business faculty, as naturally they wouldn't associate with anyone from the arts.

    Michael I know you post a lot of stuff that is tongue in cheek, but the tone of this one is a bit bitter. Having a bad day are we?
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Eric,

    Sorry I was outside loading my money into the Brinks truck, or I wouldn't have taken so long to reply.

    No, just another great day in paradise.

    But I have to admit I'll be having a bad day of those damn retread Calgary Flames ending up beating the Sharks.

    Then you'll see a bad day.



    Michael
     
  7. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Why are we all so hung up on drawing every position in stark black and white with *NO* shades of intermediate gray?

    I revel in, and enjoy "fine art" photography... doing what *I* damn well WANT to do - my decision.
    If someone came over and offered "X" amount of filthy money for one of my works, I just might accept it. if I did, I would not feel even a tiny bit guilty as a result.

    I also do "commercial". I don't consider that an immoral act either. I'll take a photograph that someone else wants me to take, and accept money for it.

    I suppose I *could* go out and photograph for the express purpose of selling the photographs ... composing a calendar, for example, of post cards... and selling them. I haven't, and really have no desire to do that - but if someone elses does .... fine with me.

    What was the question again?
     
  8. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Go Flames Go!! Whadda mean retreads?! We'll see. Maybe we should get a friendly little bet going on?
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Michael,

    In the time that I have experienced your presence in whatever small way via this site, I have been left to wonder many times at the arrogant stance that you take in regard to knowing the "answer" as it should be practiced by everyone of the rest of us that don't quite measure up to your elevated view of how things should be.

    I acknowledge that you have a right to your viewpoint...whatever that happens to be on any consecutive day or hour or minute. Why won't you allow that same priviledge to everyone else?

    Your viewpoint, which I acknowledge, is from primarily a commercial viewpoint. Does that make the rest of us who live on the income from our trust funds and don't give a "rats ass" about ever making a dime from our photographs wrong? (I said "photographs", just to piss you off)

    You spout errant H.S about "Zen Mind - Beginners Mind". Spout is about all that I see. I see little of it that has infiltrated your life...at least by virtue of your arrogant, elevated stance.

    This psuedo "God Like Bullshit" sickens me.
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Eric:

    Flames win, I'll send you a great bottle of Cabernet.

    Sharks win you send me a NHL Flames home jersey (red XXL)

    No matter what happens you can keep Sutter.
    Shit we gave you Kipper for nothing.


    Michael
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Donald:

    I'm just bitter because I spend all my trust fund on camera equipment and didn't have the good sense to save any of it for my old age.




    Michael
     
  12. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    I respect fashion photographers, but I have no sense of fashion, and do not see the point of a $699.95 (or $50.00 for that matter) piece of clothing.

    I respect landscape photographers, but have yet to open an Ansel Adams book and reach the end without a yawn.

    I have NO respect for drive-through family portrait type places. I once attempted to work at one of those, but waiting 1+ hrs for the make up to be done, only to have 12 (yes, as in a dozen) shots to take made me sick. It's a character flaw, but I hold myself above that.

    I respect portrature, especially when some character shows through the photograph (be it the subjects or the photographers).

    I respect some photojornalism. see documentary.

    I have NO respect for paparazzi. Once again it's a character flaw. paparazzi-photography lacks style, content, and quality. Not to mention purpose. It exists merely for the sake of greed. I despise it.

    I hold documentary photography in very high respect. To me, it's putting the medium to good use. Tell a story, spread culture and understanding. Maybe most importantly, aquire (as a photographer) culture and understanding.

    I also respect fine art photography. It is done by the photographer for the photographer. It's no one else's business. Self-discovery and masturbation.

    The wonderful thing about photography is that rarely is it only one of the above. Shooting a documentary about people? Portrature as well!

    As for commercial photography, well... if it's done for the sake of money alone, it probably won't be any good. If there's more in it for the photographer, it has value.

    Moral of the story? Not only does my opinion not matter (it's your life, live it as you may), the lines are so fuzzy that my opinion is uselss.
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    That's O.K. Michael...There is a book that deals with all of those considerations. Should I mention the title?
     
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  15. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    man, I hope you guys are joking
     
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I can't speak for Michael. I assure you that I am not joking.
     
  17. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    I majored in commercial photography in college. I now work as a freelance assistant for commercial photographers in Chicago. Anyone who wants to tell me that commercial photography is inherently less difficult, less creative, or in some way inferior to "fine art" photography can lay lips on my posterior.

    There isn't anything wrong with commercial photography. In ways, I see it as a greater challenge to make good commercial photographs than most any other kind of photograph. How so? You're trying to make a beautiful, artful image, just like in fine art photography. However, you're also trying to make an intelligent, communicative image that accomplishes a specific goal. Yeah, there's a lot of cheap, soulless commercial photography out there. But for every crappy commercial photographer with only a minimal amount of care about quality, there are ten Ansel Adams zealots churning out boring, uncreative b&w prints in the name of fine art.

    To make a qualitative distinction between commercial photography and fine art photography is to make with copious eletist quasi-intellectual masturbation. Fine art photography and commercial photography are on equal ground. One is not better or worse, more or less ethical than the other due to any arrangement or lack of exchange of monetary funds. They have equal potential to be gorgeous and masterfully produced and equal potential to be undeniably worthless piles of crap.

    I pursue photography as photography. I make no distinction between my personal work and paid commercial work. I aim to produce fine images with insight in both endeavors. I refuse to accept any blanket statement of superiority or inferiority in the relationship between the commercial and non-commercial disciplines in photography.
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't do commercial photography - anymore. And when I did, I had another job so I could turn down the assignments I didn't want.

    But to pass up a photo opportunity merely because it might have commercial aspects? I consider that stupid!
     
  19. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Gee a trust fund, must be nice. I earned my retirement money the old fashioned way, lying, cheating and stealing.

    Your on Michael. Now if you hate the Flames so much why do you want a jersey? I suppose since it will be XXL you could tie up the arms and use it as a money bag for your days take.
     
  20. mark

    mark Member

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    I am not disagreeing with you or challengin your statement, eric, but I am even more confused. What is this high road you speak of. I am beginning to feel that lines are drawn in the sand for no reason.

    By the way Donald, in what way was Michael's statement arrogant? And that very childish snip about Michael and his Zen comment from a different thread, where the heck did that come from?

    By the way no one has said why commercial photography is bad yet.
     
  21. KenM

    KenM Member

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    You know, I used to kinda-sorta-maybe like you. Not any more however :x Them's fightin' words! Go Flames!

    Back on topic :smile: Regarding commercialism, people do photography for various reasons: personal expression, physical activity, your livelihood, etc. It's really a personal thing, and eveyone has an opinion about what makes good photography (I'm not even going to call it fine-art, since that opens another can o' worms entirely).

    It's almost like saying that making a photograph that someone else has already done is a waste of time. Is it? Commercially perhaps, but what about for you, personally?

    For example, I just spent a week in Yosemite as part of a B&W workshop. There are very few new 'big' photographs you can make in Yosemite, since it's truly been done to death. However, that did not stop me from making numerous images of Cathedral Rock, or making a bunch of images from the tunnel view. Will I every try to sell those photographs? Perhaps, but I made the images more for me than to sell. You know the second you try and show an image like that to someone in the 'know', and they'll immediately say you're trying to copy AA. Perhaps I was, or perhaps I just liked what was going on at the time. Regardless, the image was for me.

    You must do whatever you feel you must do. Make it, don't make it. Sell it, don't sell it, frame it on the wall, or toss it. It's always about choice, and it's always your choice, no one elses.

    There is no one right path in photography. To each their own.
     
  22. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I derive about a third of my annual income via commercial photography. I think its great as far as it goes, but I don't feel a need to create my own thread to single people out for admonishment and to make grand (one of) my profession(s) through association.
     
  23. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Andre wrote:

    Andre:

    Three quarters of what I write is bullshit, and the other three quarters doesn't make any sense.

    You judge.

    Michael
     
  24. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    From that other Michael "Michael A Smith stated that there are times while driving along, that he saw a vista, but would not stop his truck for it, because he deemed it too commercial for his sensibilities, and he would not sully himself or stoop so low as to take this picture and accept money for it."

    My, how you do distort things. What I said was that the only reason I would have made that particular photograph would have been to sell it. As an artist, I decided that was not a valid reason.

    Please note: I said, "As an artist . . ."

    I do not know one photographer working as an artist who ever makes a photograph just to make money. I'm not alone here.

    But I do make lots of photographs, and although the motive for making them is to fulfill something in myself, not to sell them, when they are finished I damn well hope to sell them. Doing so is my only source of income (no trust funds here).

    Commercial photography is quite another thing. I have neither the time nor the energy to look for commercial jobs of any sort. However, when commercial jobs come along, and three have in the past 25 years, I jump on them eagerly. Doing a commercial job, as pointed out by F. Dave, has lots of challenges and there is a lot to be learned from doing them. And since they pay well, I would not be the least bit unhappy if one of them came along every month. When I do a commercial job I am not making my art (although I hope the photographs will be artful). I see nothing wrong with this and have infinite respect for those who do commercial work. In so many ways they know a lot more about photography than I ever will. (Examples: My idea of lighting is to "turn the lights on." And I wouldn't know how to use a flash if i were handed one.)

    So please, do not take out of context what I said with your contemptuous talk of "me sullying myself."

    Making art is one thing. Doing commercial work artfully is quite another. Both are worthy things to do. making art fits the sensibility of some people. Doing commercial work fits the sensibillity of others. Of course, commercial photographers try to make beautiful photographs. The difference is that the motivation for the act of photographing comes from different places.

    I have comercial photographer friends. In many ways they are envious of what I do, "You can photograph whatever you want to," they say. And in many way I am envious of them, "You get to make money."

    Michael: I'm really not sure why you are so touchy and defensive about this. You must be terribly insecure and feel very threatened. When I stated, or someone else stated, a position that has to do with the way we work--as artists--it had nothing to do with commercial photography, what commercial photographers do, or the valuable things they bring to our society.

    I hope this is clear.
     
  25. rjs003

    rjs003 Subscriber

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    I enjoy two major hobbies 1.) Furniture making 2.) Photography. Last week I used my furniture making ability ( talent / art ) to do work for the company that I work for on a part time bases. I recieved a lot of compliments and a small amount of money for my efforts. I don't feel at all guilty; and if I can convince the boss that he should buy some of my photos to sell in the showroom, you can bet I will be there with as many photos as the boss wants to display.
     
  26. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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