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Author Topic: Has anyone ever heard of Focus magazine ?  (Read 10820 times)
PhillyPhotographer
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« on: February 11, 2009, 08:59:18 PM »
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Anyone ?

Focus Magazine
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jecxz
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 09:26:39 PM »
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Quote from: PhillyPhotographer
Four year old magazine... looks like four issues per year.

Photographer pays for the display of her or her images (http://www.focusmag.info/submissions/)

With payment a photographer can reach 30,000 people, or they estimate 4.5 readers per issue; so your paid advertisements can potentially reach 136,971 people.

No, I have never heard of this magazine before.

Kind regards,
Derek
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russell a
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 10:43:26 PM »
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It is most highly unlikely that "exposure" in a venue such as the publication in question would benefit anyone but the publication itself.  Imagine yourself a gallery owner.  As such, you are constantly the target of the hundreds to thousands of wannabes walking the streets who "know" they are the next flavor of the month.  Do you think that you would have to or want to consult a vanity publication?  Do yourself a favor and read The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson to get a sense of how the art world really works.  There are an ever-growing number of schemes designed to separate artists from their money and take advantage of their irrepressible egos.
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PhillyPhotographer
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 10:52:01 PM »
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Thanks Russell




Quote from: russell a
It is most highly unlikely that "exposure" in a venue such as the publication in question would benefit anyone but the publication itself.  Imagine yourself a gallery owner.  As such, you are constantly the target of the hundreds to thousands of wannabes walking the streets who "know" they are the next flavor of the month.  Do you think that you would have to or want to consult a vanity publication?  Do yourself a favor and read The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson to get a sense of how the art world really works.  There are an ever-growing number of schemes designed to separate artists from their money and take advantage of their irrepressible egos.
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DavidSpivak-Focus Magazine
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2009, 07:26:42 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
It is most highly unlikely that "exposure" in a venue such as the publication in question would benefit anyone but the publication itself.  Imagine yourself a gallery owner.  As such, you are constantly the target of the hundreds to thousands of wannabes walking the streets who "know" they are the next flavor of the month.  Do you think that you would have to or want to consult a vanity publication?  Do yourself a favor and read The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson to get a sense of how the art world really works.  There are an ever-growing number of schemes designed to separate artists from their money and take advantage of their irrepressible egos.

Russell, let me ask you a serious question:

Why do photographers showcase their work in art galleries?

No, this isn't the beginning to a cheesy joke - it's a serious question.

Maybe it would have something to do with wanting to reach art collectors. The gallery owner spends thousands of dollars every year to attract people to their gallery by showcasing the work that's being exhibited. They take out ads in local and national papers and magazines that they know art collectors read.

But what if the photographer doesn't have any gallery representation or wants to gain the attention of collectors in New York, San Francisco, LA, Houston, Santa Fe, etc. -- any city that the photographer isn't exhibited in? How does the photographer get the attention of collectors by being in one local gallery?

Focus Magazine launched in April 2005 centered around solving this problem for photographers: We offer multi-page spreads that can exhibit the work of photographers such as Mr. Penn and then offer full page ads in additional issues that create a marketing campaign of repitition that allow collectors that read mutliple issues to remember the name, the brand of Michael Penn through his photography.

Sure, we've gotten questions as to why we charge a photographer to be exhibited in Focus. The main reason is: Because if Michael's gallery has to pay to advertise his work in Focus Magazine and his book publisher has to pay to advertise their first book with Michael that exhibits his photography, why shouldn't Michael have to pay? The entire purpose of exhibiting Michael is for him to sell his work through the pages of Focus Magazine. If Michael has the potential make money off of his exhibition in the pages of Focus, why should we give that service, that opportunity away for free? It costs us tens of thousands of dollars to print tens of thousands of copies Focus Magazine. Our printer doesn't allow us to print the magazine for free because we're exhibiting art. All of the equipment used to produce the magazine, the software, the computer, etc. cost money. Michael had to pay for the supplies to create his photography, his website, etc. Why should he all of a sudden be granted the opportunity to exhibit and sell his work in Focus Magazine for free?

Yes, there are other magazines that will do that such as LensWork - a highly respected magazine that is one of my favorites to read. LensWork is not a magazine that markets itself to collectors of art photography. They're distributed in no galleries, no art fairs, no place that would attract a large number of collectors to a copy of LW with Michael's work in it. In fact, the only publication that is distributed at photo auctions, photo art fairs and photo galleries is Focus Magazine. I have personally gone through great legnths to ensure our distribution to events that we know a high number of collectors will attend.

So going back to my original question, why do photographers showcase their work in art galleries? Because the people who attend art exhibitions are also the same people who buy art to add to their existing collection. Now what if your photography was exhibited in a publication that was distributed at over 100 exhibitions, 4 art fairs, 3 auctions plus over 5,000 subscribers and over 10,000 newsstand readers? The opportunity for exposure through the pages of Focus is incredible.
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russell a
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2009, 08:41:56 PM »
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Well, with all due respect, good luck with your avowed business model.  I don't doubt for a moment that your publication is expensive to produce and that you need to charge someone in order to recoup your investment.  But that's not the point here, is it?  Read the book that I cited by Don Thompson.  Collectors are most prone to rely on some "expert" they feel they can trust - a gallery, an auction house, etc.  If your publication is able to establish that degree of authority, I wish you the best.  Meanwhile, I would think that the photographic community would welcome some objective evidence.  What returns can you demonstrate have occurred as a result of exposure in your publication?  Provide, not just one or two singular success stories, but the percentage of participants in your business model who are winners.  One would like an objective sense of the odds.
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mitchdob
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2009, 10:33:04 PM »
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What ever happened to the days in which a publication gives artists the opportunity to have their work published based on the quality of the work, and not the quality of their pocketbook? I believe this gives credence (and respect) to both the photography and the publication, as they will have then both earned their way based on innovation, imagination and the simple belief that people will enjoy seeing (and buying) quality works.

- Mitch D

www.mitchdobrowner.com
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2009, 09:05:18 AM »
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Quote from: mitchdob
What ever happened to the days in which a publication gives artists the opportunity to have their work published based on the quality of the work, and not the quality of their pocketbook? I believe this gives credence (and respect) to both the photography and the publication, as they will have then both earned their way based on innovation, imagination and the simple belief that people will enjoy seeing (and buying) quality works.

- Mitch D

www.mitchdobrowner.com


Quite right too, but this is today, shrinking economies and rising greed.

The very high cost of print, paper and almost anything you can think about has caused havoc in advertising land, never mind in the vanity market of wannabe photography. That somebody comes up with alternative business models is no surprise; that such models may or may not prove useful to anyone who chooses to invest their money by buying space therein is no stranger a concept than a client spending money to air his soap-powders in TV land. Ever unquantifiable, these are simply adventures in wishful thinking that have less and less appeal as profits and the opportunities for consequential tax deductions are also lowered.

For myself, I would try for exposure in a local gallery and hope that it, within a network of others, might prove conducive to wider publicity and opportunity to purchase/sell, depending on who´s doing it!

I feel no urge to solve the world´s current financial problems on my own; my hands remain firmly in my pockets!

Rob C
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mitchdob
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2009, 10:27:58 AM »
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I agree and understand. I also really do respect David and his business model. Its just for me.

My hope is that talent photographers, like Michael Penn, will be asked by publications (like LensWork did) to show their work based its quality.
Great work will sell magazines because it inspires people. Especially in tough economic times people will buy inspiration.  

- Mitch

http://www.mitchdobrowner.com
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DavidSpivak-Focus Magazine
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2009, 08:05:57 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
Well, with all due respect, good luck with your avowed business model.  I don't doubt for a moment that your publication is expensive to produce and that you need to charge someone in order to recoup your investment.  But that's not the point here, is it?  Read the book that I cited by Don Thompson.  Collectors are most prone to rely on some "expert" they feel they can trust - a gallery, an auction house, etc.  If your publication is able to establish that degree of authority, I wish you the best.  Meanwhile, I would think that the photographic community would welcome some objective evidence.  What returns can you demonstrate have occurred as a result of exposure in your publication?  Provide, not just one or two singular success stories, but the percentage of participants in your business model who are winners.  One would like an objective sense of the odds.

My magazine and several hundred photographers are actually evidence AGAINST Don Thompson's theory that collectors ONLY go to expert galleries. For instance, I'm sure several photographers here have sold work off of their website without being represented by a gallery. Maybe they got a mention in a local newspaper or won a local photography contest. The first rule of collecting art is "BUY WHAT YOU LOVE!" As far as authority, I have some pretty heavy hitters on my editorial staff. The publisher and editor of the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, Stephen Perloff, is my Editor in Chief, John Bennette who many collectors and galleries know and love is my Editor at Large, the Director of the George Eastman House Museum of Photography is a contributing editor as well as a former assistant director of the original Witkin Gallery in New York City. I also have several AIPAD member blue-chip galleries advertising with me. I also was invited to exhibit at Photo San Francisco and Photo NY in 2005 and 2006 (if any of you visit Photo Miami or Photo LA, it's run by the same person) and sold art on behalf of photographers who advertised with me. I sold quite a bit of excellent work to collectors at these art fairs. So, I think I established authority with collectors a long time ago. And if you'll look through several back issues of Focus, you'd see that we exhibit a lot of just great photographers who are very talented.

As far as results are concerned, I would define a winner as a photographer either sold his or her work to one or more collectors, or obtained representation to a gallery, museum or book publisher. Over the past 4 years, we have over 60% success rate. One photographer, I believe has sold over half a dozen pieces of his work as a result of his ad campaign in Focus. Other photographers have sold 2 or 3 pieces. Almost all photographers see their website traffic increase dramatically. Still others have picked up representation with galleries and book publishers - one photographer even picked up representation with a small New Jersey museum. Are there photographers who advertise with us and sell absolutely nothing, see almost no increase in their website traffic and obtain no representation? I'm sure there are... I can recall a few off of the top of my mind. But not everyone's work will connect with my readers. It's the risk you take in starting out in your own business as a photographer: Will the public like my work enough to pay for it? The answer isn't always yes, unfortunately.

I contacted Michael, because, well... look at his work! I think Michael could do well in Focus especially with all of the collectors we're reaching this issue. We don't accept just anyone into Focus.
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DavidSpivak-Focus Magazine
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2009, 08:11:24 PM »
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Quote from: mitchdob
What ever happened to the days in which a publication gives artists the opportunity to have their work published based on the quality of the work, and not the quality of their pocketbook? I believe this gives credence (and respect) to both the photography and the publication, as they will have then both earned their way based on innovation, imagination and the simple belief that people will enjoy seeing (and buying) quality works.

- Mitch D

www.mitchdobrowner.com

Those publications are still around - but you won't sell your work through them. No gallery today is going to decide to pick you up for representation just because your work was exhibited in Silvershotz, LensWork, B&W, Color or for that matter, even Focus. The market is much more tough and demanding on photographers these days. Even to get in the door in the blue chip galleries, you need to have to have published your own book.

If you want to be a photographer and not a businessman who sells your photography, well then those publications are the right option for you. But if you're looking to sell your work to collectors on a nationwide scale, then we might be the right option for you.
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jecxz
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2009, 09:02:42 PM »
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Quote from: DavidSpivak-Focus Magazine
My magazine and several hundred photographers are actually evidence AGAINST Don Thompson's theory that collectors ONLY go to expert galleries. For instance, I'm sure several photographers here have sold work off of their website without being represented by a gallery. Maybe they got a mention in a local newspaper or won a local photography contest. The first rule of collecting art is "BUY WHAT YOU LOVE!" As far as authority, I have some pretty heavy hitters on my editorial staff. The publisher and editor of the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, Stephen Perloff, is my Editor in Chief, John Bennette who many collectors and galleries know and love is my Editor at Large, the Director of the George Eastman House Museum of Photography is a contributing editor as well as a former assistant director of the original Witkin Gallery in New York City. I also have several AIPAD member blue-chip galleries advertising with me. I also was invited to exhibit at Photo San Francisco and Photo NY in 2005 and 2006 (if any of you visit Photo Miami or Photo LA, it's run by the same person) and sold art on behalf of photographers who advertised with me. I sold quite a bit of excellent work to collectors at these art fairs. So, I think I established authority with collectors a long time ago. And if you'll look through several back issues of Focus, you'd see that we exhibit a lot of just great photographers who are very talented...
Perhaps you can clarify something for me: Why do you need these individuals if your publication is paid advertising, paid by photographers? I find it odd that you "name drop" when these individuals are not necessary in a publication where photographers are showcased by payment and not by “natural selection.”

Nonetheless, but not in support of your position, many photographers are comfortable spending money to advertise their photographs and if it makes them happy to parade around a set of magazine pages with their photographs without mention that it cost them $2,000, so what, it's their choice. Who does it hurt, I mean, it is not like there is any integrity left, right?

Sorry, it's late, and I just found it quite hysterical that you have Stephen Perloff as an editor for a publication that is predominantly photographer paid advertisements! How typical of Stephen to have his hand in such a venture!

Kind regards,
Derek Jecxz
www.jecxz.com
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russell a
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2009, 12:34:28 PM »
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Quote from: DavidSpivak-Focus Magazine
As far as results are concerned, I would define a winner as a photographer either sold his or her work to one or more collectors, or obtained representation to a gallery, museum or book publisher. Over the past 4 years, we have over 60% success rate. One photographer, I believe has sold over half a dozen pieces of his work as a result of his ad campaign in Focus. Other photographers have sold 2 or 3 pieces. Almost all photographers see their website traffic increase dramatically. Still others have picked up representation with galleries and book publishers - one photographer even picked up representation with a small New Jersey museum. Are there photographers who advertise with us and sell absolutely nothing, see almost no increase in their website traffic and obtain no representation? I'm sure there are... I can recall a few off of the top of my mind. But not everyone's work will connect with my readers. It's the risk you take in starting out in your own business as a photographer: Will the public like my work enough to pay for it? The answer isn't always yes, unfortunately.

I contacted Michael, because, well... look at his work! I think Michael could do well in Focus especially with all of the collectors we're reaching this issue. We don't accept just anyone into Focus.

One photographer, half a dozen pieces (sales price unlisted)  OK, maybe that one broke even.
Other photographers, 2 or 3 pieces.  If the sales price is in the ballpark of $1000 that's a loss to break even deal.
Photographers who advertise and sell nothing.  I, like you, believe there are these.

It's not possible to validate your claim of a 60% success rate (in what terms, indeed?) with the information you've provided.

I suggest that Michael has a business model that already works for him.  But, here's a marketing idea!  Offer Michael a free ride for a spread.  Then, if he accepts, we in the LL community will think, 'If Michael thinks it's a good idea, then it must be!"
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russell a
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2009, 12:53:23 PM »
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Quote from: DavidSpivak-Focus Magazine
Those publications are still around - but you won't sell your work through them. No gallery today is going to decide to pick you up for representation just because your work was exhibited in Silvershotz, LensWork, B&W, Color or for that matter, even Focus. The market is much more tough and demanding on photographers these days. Even to get in the door in the blue chip galleries, you need to have to have published your own book.

Interesting comment regarding galleries.  Does this mean that you might think that it might be, let's say, disingenuous for Color and B&W magazines to accept ads from photographers "Seeking Gallery Representation"?

Ah, the key is to publish a book.  Well, Focus has a business doing that also.  How convenient, for only ~$20K, one can make that investment with you as well.  One sees printers (as opposed to publishers) dissing their own low end promotional materials business to push "leaving a book behind" at the gallery.

Then there are the collectors on the other end of the equation.  Hopefully, they do buy for the love of a work.  Because, if they think that profits that occur at the level of the Gagosian, Saatchi, Sotheby's etc. will accrue to their collecting, they are sadly mistaken.  Their experience will be more like that of Hummel figurine collectors.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 01:07:01 PM by russell a » Logged
russell a
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2009, 01:05:45 PM »
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The bottom line in all this, for me, comes back to the question for most aspirants to the arts: "How much are you willing to pay to play artist?"  If approached with one's eyes open and expectations under control, I have no problem with anyone's participation in a process such as we are discussing here.  I think it is very unlikely and quite unsatisfactory to buy one's way into the art world, but if that floats an individual's boat - great!  

What is really handy is to have a trust fund.  Someday, I'll have to make a list of those artists who were "trust-fund babies"  Three Master Photographers come instantly to mind.  Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Cartier-Bresson, William Eggleston.  
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jjj
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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2009, 11:32:27 PM »
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Photographer's have paid to have their images in publications for years. You used to get and may still do if the interweb hasn't killed them off books that were published every years featuring the work of professional photographers, this would then be bought by ad agencies/art directors/designers etc for them to browse though and find photographers.
A magazine targeted at collectors is just a variation on that pretty old model and if they don't charge the end consumer, it may even be a better one.

Why is it wrong for photographers to advertise?
Not passing judgement onFocus  magazine as to whether it's exploitative or not as I don't know any thing about it, but nothing wrong with the idea in principal. Unless they take in anyone no matter how crap, for unless they have some editorial policy regarding the quality of images, then it will not be taken seriously by the prospective collectors.
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2009, 12:43:38 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
The bottom line in all this, for me, comes back to the question for most aspirants to the arts: "How much are you willing to pay to play artist?"  If approached with one's eyes open and expectations under control, I have no problem with anyone's participation in a process such as we are discussing here.  I think it is very unlikely and quite unsatisfactory to buy one's way into the art world, but if that floats an individual's boat - great!  

What is really handy is to have a trust fund.  Someday, I'll have to make a list of those artists who were "trust-fund babies"  Three Master Photographers come instantly to mind.  Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Cartier-Bresson, William Eggleston.


While you're at it, make a list of well-regarded artists who struggled to earn a decent living throughout their careers. You can start with Ansel Adams and go from there. Let's see which list is longer.
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russell a
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2009, 02:31:13 PM »
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While you're at it, make a list of well-regarded artists who struggled to earn a decent living throughout their careers. You can start with Ansel Adams and go from there. Let's see which list is longer.

Of course you make a good point, many, many photographers financed their interest through fashion work (Arbus), commercial work (Kertez, Adams), teaching (Callahan), scores of photographers in magazine work etc., etc.  The situation is different today, the picture magazine is long gone, newspapers are laying off photographers by the handful, publications like People magazine is only interested in celebrity photos as are a few tabloids.  Last year I sponsored a lecture by George Tice, one of the few photographers who, without a trust fund, and without supporting himself through commercial work managed a living selling through galleries.  Pretty much the conclusion one had to make was that George's story could hardly be repeated today.  For example, MOMA in the early days of collecting photography up through the Szarkowski days, had a fairly open door policy.  While the technical barriers to entry continue to erode (aside from the high price and rapid obsolescence of digital equipment), the number of photographers "seeking gallery representation" is enormous.  Thus we see the proliferation of purchasable schemes that promise a shortcut to entry.  Artists, as a class, are quite vulnerable to such schemes.  We could make another list:  Schemes that Separate Photographers from Money in the Hope of Discovery.  My point still stands that a trust fund is very handy to have.  I would recommend it as a pre-condition for entry into a photo or art school.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2009, 09:12:25 PM »
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Quote from: russell a
Of course you make a good point, many, many photographers financed their interest through fashion work (Arbus), commercial work (Kertez, Adams), teaching (Callahan), scores of photographers in magazine work etc., etc.  The situation is different today, the picture magazine is long gone, newspapers are laying off photographers by the handful, publications like People magazine is only interested in celebrity photos as are a few tabloids.  Last year I sponsored a lecture by George Tice, one of the few photographers who, without a trust fund, and without supporting himself through commercial work managed a living selling through galleries.  Pretty much the conclusion one had to make was that George's story could hardly be repeated today.  For example, MOMA in the early days of collecting photography up through the Szarkowski days, had a fairly open door policy.  While the technical barriers to entry continue to erode (aside from the high price and rapid obsolescence of digital equipment), the number of photographers "seeking gallery representation" is enormous.  Thus we see the proliferation of purchasable schemes that promise a shortcut to entry.  Artists, as a class, are quite vulnerable to such schemes.  We could make another list:  Schemes that Separate Photographers from Money in the Hope of Discovery.  My point still stands that a trust fund is very handy to have.  I would recommend it as a pre-condition for entry into a photo or art school.

1) I would argue that a photo or art school is pretty much superfluous to fine art photography. The big name photography schools (Brooks, RIT) graduate lots of folks who go into commercial photography, but as far as I can tell there are as many self-taught artists as school-trained.

2) I've spoken with a number of well known wildlife and natural history photographers, and the 'arc' of the natural history photography business is I think instructive. Circa 1970, really good quality wildlife or macro nature photos were technically difficult to pull off, given the limitations of the then prevailing equipment and film. The 1970's appear to have been a kind of 'golden age', when devoted natural history photographers could earn a very good living doing what they loved and selling images. But equipment and film got much better; workshops taught techniques; hundreds, then thousands of folks poured into the field, and millions of really excellent images flooded the market, which quickly became saturated. Prices for image licensing plummeted. Now even the best known, most skilled practitioners have to eeke out a living between teaching, running workshops, writing; oh, and occasionally taking photographs.

3) As Brooks Jensen has pointed out, the digital revolution has brought really excellent prints within the reach of almost anyone willing to try. There are more technically really good photographic prints being made today than ever before. It's much harder to stand out when the quality of 'average' is pretty darned good.

4) I could be wrong about this, but I believe George Tice supported himself as a custom printer while doing his own work. He did a lot of printing for the Edward Steichen estate as well as platinum printing for others.

5) And yet, it's still possible to break into the art world and sell prints for a bundle if you create really beautiful work that hits the zeitgeist. You never know who'll be the next Michael Kenna, Andreas Gursky or Edward Burtynsky.
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russell a
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« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2009, 11:42:52 PM »
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Quote from: Geoff Wittig
I could be wrong about this, but I believe George Tice supported himself as a custom printer while doing his own work. He did a lot of printing for the Edward Steichen estate as well as platinum printing for others.

And yet, it's still possible to break into the art world and sell prints for a bundle if you create really beautiful work that hits the zeitgeist. You never know who'll be the next Michael Kenna, Andreas Gursky or Edward Burtynsky.

You are right about George Tice's printing.  He leveraged those contacts to his advantage as well.

The number of people at the "top of the pyramid" are few in number, of course, and I find it difficult to discern a correlation between any measure of quality and success.  It's seems mostly to hinge on some BS backstory - as in the case of Wall, Crewson, Muniz, etc.
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