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April 15, 2011


Growth and change are positive things, but I hope you don't change the wide range of topics you discuss on your blog, or your style. I always look forward to being surprised by what I might find in a new post.
On the other hand, your pictures do deserve to be on walls and mantlepieces, and I hope that whatever you plan for the blog will help that to happen!

Don't worry. My goal is to improve the user experience so that Shutterfinger is better integrated with social media and so my gallery of photographs is on the same site as the blog; that way fans of my writing and photography will only have to visit one site instead of two.

Photographing for a market versus photographing for yourself - how does one make the distinction? Your thoughts on this would be an interesting read, Gordon. Perhaps there is a blurry distinction between the two for some, but I can think of situations where a photograph that the market might "like" would not be something that the photographer might necessarily consider his "best" work, whatever "best" may mean to the individual. Then there is the age old discussion of creating art for the sake of art and art versus a successful commercial endeavor. I guess a lot also depends on what one defines as "fine art." Is a good postcard photograph of a landscape also considered "fine art"?

"Photographing for a market versus photographing for yourself - how does one make the distinction?"

It's not an either-or proposition. One can do both. Alain's point is that if you want to sell your work you have to either find or create a market for it. That said, the general market for fine art photography is people and companies that want to mount framed photographs on their walls. All philosophical questions of art and commerce aside, simply ask yourself what types of photographs people with a taste for art would want to mount on their walls.

For example, if your passion and specialty is photographing the horrors of war then your most likely market will be magazines and newspapers--not because your work doesn't have merit, but because hardly anyone would want to place such photos on the walls of their home or office. There is a secondary market of collectors who purchase prints they don't necessarily intend to frame and display, yet even collectors are particular about what they buy.

In short, assuming a sufficiently high-quality product that is well priced, either you produce what the market is looking for or you persuade the market to buy what you're producing. If you're not successful at either one, your product won't sell, whether it's fine art photography or beer.

Market vs. yourself is really a "box in a box" situation. We all operate within a given market. The challenge is knowing exactly what that market is. This requires research. Once this market is clearly defined, as artists we work for ourselves. That's the only way we can create unique artwork. There's no "need" to fullfill (like say adapting the gas tank size of a car to a market audience that drives long distances or short distance) because we are not selling a need (cars are needs because we need transportation, like we need food, shelter, clothing, etc.). We are selling a want. So the key is that the audience wants what we offer, and in art that is our personal style.

Thanks for the concise comments Gordon/Alain. Also good to see you here Alain. I bought a copy of "Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style" a few months ago and enjoyed it tremendously. I like the distinction between fulfilling a "need" versus a "want"; I think this is the gist of the entire discussion. I guess it essentially boils down to enjoying doing what you do and being rewarded for it at the same time! That is the holy grail of any vocation. Thanks.

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