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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cute Kittens and Bunnies

Did I get your attention?  Good.

We all face the same problem: How can we get our work seen and acknowledged?  I’ve been thinking a lot about what we do to get attention; what we do to make people see us.  We’re told all the time that we “need to create buzz,” and there are examples of those successes all around us.

So what are you doing to create that buzz for your work?  Do you find it difficult to publicize yourself and your work, not wanting people to think you’re boasting?  After all, we’re told it’s not polite to stand up in the world and say, “Hey, look at this great thing I’m doing (I’ve done).”  Maybe you think you don’t deserve the special attention.  Well it’s time to silence those voices in your head.  You can be the most fantastic photographer in the universe, but if no one knows you’re there, what difference does it make?

What’s wrong with being proud of your work and wanting to share it, to let people know you feel strongly about it?

There are so many ways for you to get noticed, to stand out from the crowd these days.  It’s wrong to think that in this world with billions of people just being talented is enough.

But are you trying to be all things to all people--a jack-of-all-trades photographer? Do you think that if you can do many things it makes you more attractive to a potential client? Yes, some people are able to build a career doing just that and if that’s what you really want to do, great. But think for a moment: If a potential client has someone who shoots everything for them, why would they hire you?

It takes looking deep inside yourself to really get at what you are good at and more importantly, what you really want to do.  You have to be brutally honest with yourself to find out whether you have what it takes to be a successful photographer.

Once you’ve made the commitment to yourself, what’s next?  I’m going to cut to the chase here.  Getting noticed is not just about throwing your work online and then Tweeting or putting it on FB.  It’s about engaging others to take a look.  It’s about presenting your work without fear.  There are ways to put your work in front of people in the industry, whether it’s at a portfolio review or through establishing a relationship with someone you want to work for.  Even more, it’s about getting out of your shell, getting out of your own way, and making opportunities for yourself, instead of waiting to be found and brought out of the wilderness.

You cannot make everyone want to work with you no matter how good your work is.  But you don’t need that.  You are not competing with everyone who has a camera.  You are competing with yourself, and those people who really move themselves forward: the go-getters, the innovators, and the people who have the creative drive to be successful.  And that’s a much smaller group than you think.

So, do you have the courage to be unique?  Are you willing to be true to yourself, and willing to stand behind that decision?  Are you ready to take possession of who you are and what you do?  Or are you waiting for someone to take you by the hand and give you what you think you want?

Challenge yourself. Give yourself permission. Stand up and let the world know you’re here.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Come On Girls, Let's Take PIX!

She's young!  She's blonde!  She's cute!  She's the embodiment of women photographers!

There’s been blowback against Nielsen and PDN on FB and Twitter for their proposed new magazine, PIX, aimed at women photographers.  And more here and here .

With stories like:

"Smudge-proof makeup tips for long days behind the camera"

"Seasonal Flats: these flats will keep your feet covered, comfortable and cute while you're on photo shoots,"
and stories on wedding photography and photographing newborns, you might think you had traveled back in time.  It’s easy to think that, but what really gets my blood boiling, is that once again, women are being marginalized.

Yes, we may be half of the population (and yes, we hold up half the sky), but why do we need to be singled out?  And why, once again are we being told that shopping is an integral part of a profession?  We've been bombarded by TV shows about weddings, wedding dresses, wedding as competition, by “Bad Girls Clubs,” and fame through Internet sex tapes; by the recent rape “jokes” of a so-called comedian, and by major magazine stories like TIME’s “Are You Mom Enough?” (to single out just a few).  It's as if there never was a feminist movement.

And for every strong woman in the public eye there is a story commenting on her hair, her looks, why she’s a bitch, or how nice her clothes are.  All of MSM is responsible, but they are not alone.  The “girlization” (I didn’t make that up) of females in our society has been going on for a while now.  And as much as I love the craft world, and the attention to décor and design, they focus so much on “cuteness.”  Since their primary audience is women, they also take part in making all women seem only focused on shopping and the home.  They make women seem non-threatening and they put women in their place.

"If you love to snap photos, chances are you're pretty creative and artsy about the rest of your world too," writes Pix's Editor-in-Chief. "It's important to you that your business is modern and cool, you've always got an eye out for hip clothing and accessories, and looking professional and shooting well are top priorities." 

In the past year photographers have been kidnapped, assaulted, and killed.  Women photographers have had to defend themselves against claims that they shouldn't shoot what they do.  Will smudge-proof makeup” or “luminous lenses” help in Syria?  Ask Lynsey Addario, or Stephanie Sinclair, or Kate Brooks, or any number of women what they think. Do you think Margaret Bourke-White was worried about her mascara when she photographed Buchenwald? When did selling clothing and accessories become a cash cow for a photography-focused media company?

When we look around, all we see are efforts to defame and marginalize women.  It’s not just the Taliban who keep women down.  Republicans around the country are proposing and passing laws to keep women pregnant; to keep them without access to healthcare or child care or jobs training, or anything that might help propel them forward. Rape is still used as a tool of war.

This is such a blatant attempt to jump on the selling bandwagon, to appeal to young women who are obsessed with what they wear and with buying the perfect things they use, women who "take pictures" of pretty things.  Not woman who are professional photographers, or who aspire to be.

Is this the best Neilsen can come up with to make more money?  Have they run out of contest categories?  It makes photography seems like just a flirtation, and not a means of giving voice, and certainly not a real career. In this struggling economy, just making a living as a photographer is hard enough, now you have to worry that your makeup is right?

Surprised?  No.  Disgusted?  Yes.  Think this is going to stop anytime soon?

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