Audiences & Institutions

For this weeks topic, we were first asked to think about what aspect or style of photography that we can’t stand and would therefore put in and banish away to the photography room 101. 

I decided that I would put the studio photography based companies.. like Venture.

I don’t know if it’s controversial or not, but I find portraits like these so cold and empty, and don’t understand the popularity. The plain backdrops gives me no sense of personality between each family/group captured, I personally am interested in space and environment which makes me very biased to this sort of set up - but it feels empty and clinical to me and lacking a sort of originality between subjects. 

Audiences and Institutions refers to the places and the way we share our work as photographers.
Over time photography has evolved so much with new technology, and so the audiences and institutions connected to the subject have changed rather a lot too. Photography and cameras now are so intwined in our modern culture that we no longer see cameras advertised in main stream media anymore - they don’t need to be advertised like they used to because the vast majority of us already own a camera of some sort. 
The digital age of photography has created questions about what constitutes a photographer as ‘professional’. What is it that separates the amateurs from the experts? Initially we think that it is about finances, if your main income is from taking photos does that make you a professional - or is it the skills you have in the area. Ultimately it is a mix of both of these that I consider make up a professional. However, there are loopholes. Just because someone doesn’t financially gain from their photographs, that doesn’t take away how skilfully shot, or ‘good’ they may be. Furthermore, Vivian Maier is a perfect example of this. She worked throughout her life as a nanny, she took photos as a personal hobby. These photos however, never saw the light of day until they were discovered after her passing. Maier did not work professionally in the modern sense, but we look at these clever shots and cannot doubt that they are superb images. The stamp of professionalism on them however has been placed there by us as viewers, we can presume this was not her intent as she was shooting. 

Logically this classes Maier’s practice as ‘amateur’, although we know this is not true it proves that the difference between amateur and professional is not black and white. 

I have always struggled with where I stand on this spectrum as a photographer. Throughout university and certainly after I graduated they told me I was a professional now, my degree a part of that title. Yet my failure to then secure a job AS a photographer or work freelance then made me doubt myself and my abilities. My skills are still there behind the images I take, and I know I am more than an amateur, but I sometimes struggle to class myself as a professional because I worry I cannot prove this - and how will people believe me? A lot of these feelings comes down to my own self doubt which I am trying to break down. 

Although I have worked traditionally with film photography before and want to continue to, my practice is majoritively digital. I am more confident using the latter, so in a way this has definitely shaped my practice. I have had my work displayed in different galleries and exhibitions, but they are not frequent. I mainly show my work online, on my website or on my social media. Any time my work has been shown physically it has fitted to a certain theme, except during the one solo exhibition I had at Craft village. A part from the exhibitions which would have attracted a whole range of audiences, my main audience is those who follow my photography social page - a mix but I would say mainly people I know. This limits to how far my work can reach. 

I want photography to be my work, I think my struggle lies with finding a commercial side to bring the money in.  I am interested in documentary and don’t have a passion for shooting weddings, or photojournalism or other standard commercial practices - but realistically this is how photographers make their money which then allows them to make work on their personal projects alongside. Ideally I would like to work for a magazine, shooting interesting stories, but it is not common for photographers to be a hired part of the team now - they tend to be freelance. I therefore need to build my confidence in working as a freelance photographer, where I could then sell my projects to magazines in order to generate an income. 

Although I find myself somewhere in between ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ I know what I am capable of. I need to have more faith in myself, push my boundaries, challenge myself and get over the fear of it all in order to overcome it. I want to be a professional photographer, and I think my biggest hurdle is making myself believe it so that others do too. 

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