The Emergence of the Narcissistic, Egomaniac Photographers

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by momus, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. momus

    momus Member

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    Just exactly when did photography go from attracting people that were interested in the craft of photography, pro and serious amateur alike, to a large group of narcissistic egomaniacs that are interested in advertising themselves? Was it the advent of the internet, and all those smiling faces peering from within the avatars (holding an ungodly expensive Leica usually)? The rise of social networks, and I wonder how social they really are, where everyone wants to be "liked", whatever that is? I look at some photo type websites, and nearly every posting has a string of links leading to the "photographer's" own work/website. Hey, it's just a thread on an online forum, not your personal advertisement. And why does your avatar show YOU and not your work? It reminds me of when I went out many years ago w/ my painting mentor to buy my first easel (tripod to us folks). He cautioned me not to eat the soft, chewy looking eraser I'd just paid a king's ransom for at some snobby art store, and he laughingly said that I could go get a beret and cigarette holder now, and grow a mustache.

    Am I suffering from old dufferism? I have double checked that, and it's not just me. A few other people I talked to wondered about this too? Anyone have any ideas why, and when, this happened? Maybe it's these new electronic wonder digital cameras that do everything for people except put the print on the wall? I mean, every soccer mom w/ a DSLR and a big lens is a pro wedding photographer now, right? Not having to focus, figure out exposure, film type, etc may have attracted a lot of people that might otherwise have just been snapshot shooters w/ no pretension of being the next Richard Avadon/Ansel Adams, w/ their self published photo books showing their oh so serious self portrait on the cover, on the back, and inside the book a few times just for grins? I'm clutching at straws here.
     
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  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The field of photography has never lacked for big egos... ever. I'm not at all convinced this is a new phenomena.
     
  3. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I also think so. Only now thanks to Internet you see more and see faster. Additional thing is also increase number of photographers - thanks to digital cameras and instagrams and similar popular stuff, and more photographers you have - more egomaniacs you will have.
     
  4. Tebbiebear

    Tebbiebear Member

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    Sometime in the mid to late 1800's.
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Some of this came about during the "supermodel" era of the 80s. Although the term is overused beyond recognition to now include someone who poses for Sears catalogs, but in reality it really was naming only about 5-6 models who could command $10,000 a day including Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Christi Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell. Obviously there have been others before and after but this was where the term gained recognition.

    Along with these Supermodels came super photographers like Herb Ritts, Steven Maisel, Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, Greg Gorman, Scavullo, Bruce Weber and others who became celebrities in their own right and started the celebrity shooter genre. Obviously there were great photographers before and after them but in my memory this was the time of the over hyped photographer being more of a celebrity than the celebrity themselves.

    But as Suzanne says, the egos have been around since people started believing their own marketing materials.
     
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  6. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Certainly by 1895 with Stieglitz, probably by 1839 with Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot.
     
  7. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I have never noticed this phenomenon. Perhaps I should pay more attention.
     
  8. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I agree with momus. It may have always been around but is way, way over the top like never before.
     
  9. erikg

    erikg Member

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    1839.
     
  10. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Why don't you have an avatar? >;-)
    (no it's not me in mine)

    I suppose something happened when photography became more of a competitive industry, in relation to fashion and celebrities, fashion houses and celebrity-agents.

    Also, the marked has been tough after everyone went digital and with the explosion of the Internet, the value of a photograph have plummeted, and shots from "unknowns" are dumped for pennies and pins on stock-photo sites.

    The shooters that have "made it", have star-status and are more or less treated like celebrities themselves (which is pretty stupid if you ask me).

    Self-promotion has taken a whole different level on the net, be it signatures (I have a link to my blog in mine, so that people can "enjoy" my crazy antics), or various means "to reach people" trough facebook-pages, or via microblog sites like thumbler and pinterest etc.

    But basically, I believe that most people are a bit narcissistic; IE. We enjoy the attention, the likes and praise.....and, when thinking about it, is that really so wrong..? :smile:

    Besides, photography as a business has always been about self-promotion hasn't it?
     
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  11. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    When it comes to forum responses, I find the ability to see the responders work as quite valuable. If I can see your work, I have a context for assessing your posts. On this site, there are a handful of people to whom I always pay attention. It's because I've seen their work, and respect it. I'm more prone to accept the words of those who I know have done something, rather than those who may have read or heard about something. I also hold those with the confidence to display their work in higher regard than those that don't.
     
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    There's more photography today than ever before, simply because it is so accessible.

    In an environment where people grow up around a certain quality of photographs, perhaps iPhone snapshots is the accepted 'standard' going forward? I say get used to it.

    The good thing is that those who really care can see right away whether somebody does good photography or not. And as far as the 'creme de la creme' photographs - the cream tends to always float to the top, regardless of how much noise there is underneath.

    It's best maybe to relax, do your best to improve your own photography, and show with your work what you can do. Arguing about what others do usually doesn't amount to anything productive.

    To round my reply off, I will also add that I have seen a surprising amount of good work from people who use camera phones.
     
  13. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    Yes.
     
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  15. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Self promotion is a key aspect of business in the Internet age. You get a website. You post links to it wherever possible and it helps you with getting better search engine results. Yellow pages and hanging up a shingle are the old duffer way. Promotion and business are mostly unrelated to quality or style of photography; once in a while those things collide and something great shows for it.
     
  16. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Thinking about this I'll bet chefs and serious professional cooks think the same thing these days.
     
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    They are worse in many respects.
     
  18. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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    Naomi Campbell
     
  19. One might argue that in an age where people are famous for simply being famous, a good photographer shooting them might be the more enduring icon.
     
  20. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    You're being sarcastic, right?

    Quantity but not quality.

    The vast majority of the populace do not have the imagination or vision needed to take a good photograph.
     
  21. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Right thanks. I changed it.
     
  22. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    geez. nothing narcissistic or egomaniacal about that statement.
     
  23. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Sometimes the truth hurts. There is nothing narcissistic or egomaniacal in stating it. The world is not filled with undiscovered Adams or Westons or Cartier-Bressons.
     
  24. Shawn Rahman

    Shawn Rahman Subscriber

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    I really want to agree with this but can't. Everywhere I look now, it seems to me that photography is now reaching its potential as the truly democratic artistic medium. I get it that it pisses "real" photographers off that almost anyone can make a good photograph these days. But let's embrace it. It has never been a better time to be a photographer, I think.
     
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  25. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    There are lots of interesting photographers beavering away out there though, but all too often, it's the people who make the most noise who get the rewards.
     
  26. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Actually it is, there are better ones even. They are just drowning in the flood of good and bad photographers spamming the Internet.
    Adams and Bresson would never have been discovered today, not a chance.

    Now that is a truth that really hurts, doesn't it?