As an amateur photographer do you know how well you are doing? We post photographs on the social media website of choice, friends say they like them and of course, so does your mum. You try Instagram and gain a couple of followers, but nothing like the numbers your ego was hoping for. Is this the sign to get grumpy and give it up, or is it developing the foundations for your photography ambitions?
For a while I thought that comparing my work to the professionals was a good thing, for ideas, for technique, for ability. It was not. Simply for the reason that I was trying to compare my work to people with seemingly endless kit bags, and more importantly with the time to spend hours getting shots and practising. And while the pro’s still shoot at a level that I aspire to, I have learnt to become slightly more realistic with comparing my work to the pro’s portfolio. Though as the recent New York Times front page showed, you don’t need the kit to be awesome, but you do need the time.
Around two years ago, I discovered some websites which allow anyone to upload their photographs, and (if approved by the moderators) members of the public could purchase prints, canvas wraps etc of your photographs. Photography peers can review, approve, decline and comment on your images.
Unfortunately, as seemingly with everything that involves the internet there are internal squabbles, trolls and general foot stamping. But the biggest hit to my ego has to be that not one person has brought as much as a postcard of one of my photographs. And it’s not like I’m getting grumpy after a month or so. My photos have been up for around two years now, and still no sign of a commission!
Now I shouldn’t really be surprised by this. Art, especially the art we choose to put on our walls is an incredibly subjective thing. What I might want to blow up and take pride of place over my fireplace would be something that my friends might wish to put in the fire itself! And who would prefer to spend their hard – earned money on a photo they have no emotional attachment to? But the fact is that people do. The website I use seeming sells products every day, and people choose what art to put on their walls alongside bedside tables in all sorts of shops, from fine art galleries to Ikea and Supermarkets, and everything in between.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and find that 3 people have all brought something. Maybe the issue is more a marketing fault, as photography is not my day job and I don’t have the time to market it fully. Maybe the images just ain’t up to scratch yet. But that is ok. Because every time I post an image that doesn’t get a reaction, every image that doesn’t sell, every image that only gets “liked” by 1-2 people is an incentive. Its the “try harder, try again, try different” image.
‘Cos one day I will sell one. And I can’t wait to see how that will feel, but I know it will only happen if I keep trying and keep improving.