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The more things change...
A good read, and excellent advice. Lays waste the notion of gear whoring IMHO.
There is a tactile sensation one gets from looking at ink on paper that the electronic image (ie, iPad or equivalent) will never supplant. That the panel of industry experts still prefer ink on paper or some other form of "printed" portfolio should come as no surprise.
Thanks for the link.
I just spent a week NM and Sante Fe area in particular, and not only was film based non digital inkjet prints flourishing in the art market one could almost sense a snobbishness surrounding analog output. (i.e. digital not spoken here) Not once did we see any electronic imagery displayed, rather it was all art in the round and tangible, be it photographs, paintings, sculpture, pottery or handmade books.
Regardless, the notion of displaying electronic vs tangible portfolios has my curiosity up. Intuitively my suspicions are tangible will win hands down.
I doubt a serious art buyer is in their 20s is at a portfolio review. Like most professions, it takes time to climb the ladder.
Well, there are always going to be places like Santa Fe, but it is hardly the center of the world, even the art world. All the nostalgia toward the printed book did not stop that industry from imploding. The new generation does everything on a screen. Wishing something else will not stop the change.
This has nothing to do whether art galleries survive or not, they will. Just like film has. But to think the taste of todays portfolio reviewers are set in stone would be a serious mis-judgement. This has nothing to do with what is "better" or whether things will disappear, this is about how the world is moving.
This is not very surprising. A high quality print on high quality paper always looks better than a presentation on any computer monitor I've seen. Then there's size. Large mostly looks better than small and the A3 sized iPad is still a few (hundred) weeks into the future.
I'm surprised that the gear question was even mentioned. I've never been asked what kind of gear was used when selling a print. For a person wanting to hang a photo on the wall, it's as relevant as the colour of my underwear.
I don't care what gear I have.
Things I sell: http://www.shutterstock.com/sets/413...html?rid=61105
I find red underwear improves my photography. But maybe that is more than you want to know...
The industry both editorial and advertising is getting younger and younger. Only the photographers get older
Most of the editors I meet in NYC now are younger than I am (47) and most are women, so part of it is that they age out with a birth and some come back but many others don't. The experience level is less certainly and they are expected to do more and have less staff and resources to do it. No one has jobs now that last more than a few years, its hard to spin a career on the buying/editing side and the turnover is high. But these were the people that he was meeting, the people that make the decisions about whom to hire.
The senior-ist people now are my age or slightly younger. Most everyone older has moved on. Yes the very top people who are really managers now are 50+, but those people are at the VP level or if they are not there then they have moved on.
If you are unemployed after 50 it is curtains I'm afraid....
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I think the difference between a print and iPad is one is viewed with transmissive light the other with reflective light. The transmissive version taints the product if the end user is buying a print to hang on the wall.
I work a lot with college students. That generation is not really in tune with the printed image. They don't share or communicate in a physical world. Ignoring them and their view of the world will not stop a change that is already happening. Imagine communicating remotely from your home with folks all around the world and instantly sharing art work--that is happening.
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This isn't directed at Robert in particular, but just a general response. Advertising has always been a frustrating business for artists because of the connection between craft and amusement/propaganda. All art requires some kind of craft which is basically a means to an end. Craftsman know what they want to make ahead of time and then use their craft to create it. But art proper can never be a craft because then it becomes a formula. So while all art requires some kind of craft, it can never rely on it or else it becomes repetitive.
The way artists tend to fight formulas is to work on projects that they don't exactly know how are going to be finished. For example, many painters will start a picture and then re-paint the same picture several times over during the course of several years until it's completed. Unfortunately, advertising photography has no such luxury. The client always comes with some kind of idea, even if it's just something as simple as selling a certain product or service. No matter how much freedom is given to the photographer, the final product is still a matter of a means to an end. Craft always dominates.
While art is not dominated by craft, amusement and propaganda most definitely are. Advertising has always rewarded amusement over art because of the relationship to craft. Amusement is always a means to an end which is an emotional and social experience. The people that are best at producing it for a mass audience are those share the same emotional responses to stimulus as the mass audience. Teenagers and young people (especially under 30) are always the best at having a feel for what a mass audience will probably respond to. On the contrary, as people age they tend to have more control over their emotions and also more specific interests which means they can't usually relate as well to a mass audience.
Basically, the point I'm getting at is that advertising and it's connection to craft and amusement was inevitably going to be dominated by the under 30s. The industry has slowly been getting "dumbed down" for decades. Now, it may finally be at a point of no return. Also, I think that the abundance of portfolio review events open to amateurs is a further indication that the industry is really in it's final death throes. Whenever a business idea becomes mainstream and easily available to the man-on-the-street, then that means it's no longer relevant. In my opinion, the very fact that so many amateurs are now being sold on avenues to get into an industry is evidence that the advertising photography industry itself is almost finished.
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??? There was never anything as a commissioned artist? The churches just hired artists and let them do as they please? "Commercial" art has been around for centuries. And whether you like it or not, there is a wealth of talent crafts people working in commercial art. And you are confusing a target audience of 20 somethings with the people who control the advertising world.
When craft dominates then art is replaced by amusement/propaganda, This is the fate of every "style" that emerged in the past. In the beginning, there is no style and just a handful of artists expressing themselves as individuals. Their work might have propaganda or amusement value, but it is not dominated by it. Then, the artists are copied until the formulas become styles. Once a style emerges, then it devolves into a pure craft devoid of individual expression and dominated by amusement/propaganda. The art of the period degenerates until it becomes irrelevant and replaced by something else.
That is exactly the cycle that is happening today in modern advertising. The "old" guys in the early days of the industry (like Man Ray, Steichen, Penn etc) were individual artists breaking new ground. Slowly, over time, they were copied until their their techniques became established styles. Then, the individual art became replaced by pure craft until everything devolved into amusement. When amusement reigns, then the young people, ignorant people, and other degenerates take charge and it's the last dying stage of the process.
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That's interesting because it's a question of medium specificity. Digital and film technology both have unique properties that can sometimes be combined together in complimentary ways. There might be some uses for transparency film in the digital era that wouldn't be good for print film and vice versa.
For example, transparency film was designed to be viewed as a projection or backlit and that could make computer monitors/screens a perfect match for displaying scans made from slides. Also, digital technology is moving towards projection/3D which is also home territory for transparencies.
Thanks for posting this ... although I'm surprised that anyone even mildly involved with "photography in the service of commerce" would be surprised by any of it.
Here is a perspective from someone who actually has bought multi-millions of dollars worth of "photography and cinematography in the service of commerce", and still buys a fair amount of visual services ... from the time as a Junior Art director, to Executive Art Director, to Group Creative Director, to an almighty Executive Creative Director in control of $350,000,000. annual billings encompassing global, national and regional advertising for top global and national brands from luxury cars, to food and drink, to clothes, to financial, to retail, to Forbes 100 corporate
To start with, "Art Buyers" is a pretty wide category, and what that means can vary greatly depending on who they are buying for. The "top buyers" mentioned in the article are not defined very well, so it is hard to discuss. What categories did they represent? Advertising, Fashion, Food, Architectural, Magazine, Retail, or what? Were they Executive Art Directors, Art Directors, agency Art Buyers, Production Managers, internet agency Buyers, collateral agency Buyers, magazine Art Directors, magazine Buyers, or what? The process of selection, level of status/age, and level of power is very different for each of these and has changed as communication technology has changed.
Face-to-face Portfolio reviews, or "speculative" shipped bags, are pretty elite activities these days, at least in the USA. This article seems to cover the face-to-face aspect where the buyers are speculatively looking for fresh approaches, and the seller is looking for constructive critique and/or a foot in the door ... a process where a photographer trots their bag around town, or pre-arranges a delivery for review. However, that doesn't always mean the so called "Art Buyer" does the actual buying. In many cases they are just the gate keeper for those who do make the choices. They simply make the "real" buyer aware of a fresh photographic choice based on various categories of imagery their communication company, or companies they represent, may be involved in.
In this economy the real world buying process for most commercial photography is more immediate need driven ... not speculative and longer term. The big campaign thrusts may be effected by Art Buyer influences, but most day-to-day is now oriented ... involving initial internet category searches, flipping through tear sheets an AD may have set aside, networking with others like the buyer, etc. etc. ... then contacting select photographers for their "books" often to present to a client during a presentation ... and often customized to the client category or selected to help clarify a communication idea.
The notion that all this is in the service of "amusement or propaganda" may be partially true, but is a tad cynical and misses the primary purpose of any visual medium in the service of commerce ... to communicate visually. There is a whole other discipline involved in what makes an effective visual communication ranging from Brand stewardship, to how cluttered any given category may be thus requiring startling new visual approaches, and so on. It just isn't that simple, and I found that a number of otherwise talented photographers just didn't get this, where others did get it yet were still highly creative in expressing a fresh approach for any given brand or brand personality ... a brand stance that a company may have spent years and millions of dollars building. Not understanding this collaborative process is what can lead to frustration on the part of some professional photographers ... and that emotional aspect can become palatable during the process of a shoot ... been there, done that, won't do it again ... life is too short, and there are plenty of photographers that do get it.
BTW, craft is NOT the driver ... craft is a given, the professional price of entry. Craft has changed with technology as the communication vehicles changed, and in many cases multiplex applications dictate functional approaches. However, the underlying communication decision process has never changed ... it is about ideas and their expression. I "got" this early in my career, and it made it easy to not only survive enormous changes in the communications field, it helped me thrive amongst what appeared to be chaos.
In short, those photographers that can study a category, understand it, and express a fresh perspective is what buyers are looking for.
I have helped some professional photographers get over this hump, and also found some stubbornly, even arrogantly immune to informed suggestions. I have often thought to teach how this all works since it can be a long road of hard knocks and frustration if you do not get it.
Oh, and three cheers for those incredibly talent photographers that aided me in my career ... not only did we collaboratively aid in the success of the companies we made communications for, we shared many prestigious awards for originality and creativity from our peers and colleagues along the way.
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Mike, then lets look at your hypothesis. First, advertising was around for longer than Man Ray, Steichen, and Penn. Second, show in the context of the industry that these individuals were significant and shapers of that industry. At best, there are outliers.
Proof? Nice sentiment, but not very meaningful. You art/craft bias is also problematic as it really just semantics.When craft dominates then art is replaced by amusement/propaganda...
What beginning? Advertising? Expression without style would be difficult. How do you know there were a handful in advertising?In the beginning, there is no style and just a handful of artists expressing themselves as individuals.
Proof?When amusement reigns, then the young people, ignorant people, and other degenerates take charge and it's the last dying stage of the process.
Last edited by Shashin; 15th February 2013 at 20:15.
Sorry Mike, but any of these looming "the Death of" pronouncements are rubbish.
Advertising/Promotion/PR runs in cycles just like most anything else involving creativity. Highly innovative and influential one minute, stagnate and uninspired the next. It is a huge, multi-billion dollar industry that is fueled by brilliant ideas, and inspired minds, while hampered by fear and cowardice of little minds.
As David Ogilvy once quipped: "Businessmen suffer from the tyranny of reason." A notion brought home to me when presenting a $200,000,000 ad campaign to the Chairman of Young & Rubicam that had gone through 11 levels of client approvals 10 of which could say no, but not yes. His reply was simple and direct: "Marc, you would not hire any of these clients as a junior Art Director, find a way to do better work than this" (which we did by getting the original ideas re-presented to a much smaller client group that could say yes).
We can tag the word Art onto anything, but it is an exercise in futility. Advertising has exploited Art as a means to an end, and will do so endlessly in one way or another. As ad great George Lois once wrote ... "Art was my in to Advertising" ... clearly, he didn't confuse the two.
Advertising creativity is as much a product of deductive reasoning as it is pure "something from nothing" creativity we associate with "Art". Facts are provided and sorted, then the creative "leap" happens when the facts combine to form a new idea that expresses the message in a new way. If there is any ART in Advertising, it is the ART of persuasion.
This can happen verbally, or visually, and most often both (thanks to ad great Bill Bernbach). If this were not true, then businessmen would not need ad agencies, and ad agencies would not need Art Directors and Writers.
Art is like life ... it'll find a way. Art will always influence advertising, and Art Directors will always take the "Art" part of their title seriously ... some much more than others, but that's true in any from of creativity ... there are levels, bottom to top.
I don't have any problem at all with photography as a craft, or advertising as a business etc. What I have a problem with are people that mix up craft with art, or advertising with art, because they devalue the meaning of art. Those kinds of people are either ignorant or degenerate. Which one are you?
Mike, you have proved once again how this type of "philosophy" is so bankrupt. So, you can form a sentence, but if has nothing to do with how the world actually works, what is the point? Naturally, I think you also agree which is why all you have left is to attack the messenger.Sorry Shashin, I can't make my posts fool-proof and anybody that can only succeeds at having fools for an audience.
You want to come here and be condescending towards others and other professions, that is fine. But be armed with some facts.
BTW, your trollish anti-social personally trait simply weakens your discussion points, some of which are not without merit. This subject is not as simplistic as you would like it reduced to. It is as complex as changes in societal behavior and beliefs made it.
"Art in the service of Commerce" is nothing new, as the sometimes called "father" of it all, Toulouse-Lautrec, demonstrates.
To grasp how those we consider Artists came to make contributions to the Art of Persuasion, one needs to understand the co-development of advertising and commerce itself.
RE: Photography: It is pretty much accepted that it all began with the first great publicity photographers like Kollar and Sougez, and/or more straightforward product presentations by now unknown photographers . When commerce reached a point that products could be mass produced, and mass print mediums arose, it all eventually lead to Brand Advertising. After WW-I, persuasion took on more of an influential patina as opposed to just informing, especially for more prestigious products. Artists of all sorts were engaged for some of the more sophisticated brands ... including some photographers we deem Art Photographers today. These Artists were chosen because their vision and visualizations matched the Brand's underlying phycological appeal to a very specific audience ... all made possible because of the ability to segment the audience via targeted publications, or other specific media.
So, photography rose with the rise of the modernists sensibility both in product design and Art, from Steichen's elegant lighters or modernists patterned notions of Moholy-Nagy etc. of the 1920s - 30s ... to later work by Stern, Wolf, and Penn who made such powerful visual statements that the photo itself was the whole message (with a logo or tag line) ... onward to Bourdin, Jean-Loup Sieff and Jean-Paul Goude (whom I collaborated with earlier in my career) ... to provocative works by Jean-Marie Vives and Dmitri Daniloff, amongst others.
Many of these pivotal works in the service of commerce are now lost because they were not deemed ART, and therefore not preserved or curated.
If the art of commercial still photography as wained in influence today, it is because the very mediums they fed are waining. This erosion started when motion became so powerful and ubiquitous a force in society, and influential cinematographers began to hold sway.
Is it ART? Who cares about semantics and endless debates?
IMO, ART has always influenced visual thinking of all types whether directly on occasion, or indirectly like Cubism did to so many other visual disciplines. Art is visual philosophy, all the other stuff that comes after is the practical application of that philosophy, call it what you may ... those who use it couldn't care less ... so protests and laminations are screaming into the howling winds of change.