Becoming a new film photo professional
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…
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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.
Matt's Photo Site
"I invent nothing, I rediscover". Auguste Rodin
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by arigram
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.
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Originally Posted by blaze-on
I wish you the best. Keep me informed, I'd love to hear how you are doing.
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.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I think it's a great idea. Good Luck!
Follow your dream!!!
"Pote tha kani ksasteria........."
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.
Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
no digital additives and shit