Thursday, April 22, 2010

Popularity contest

Some of you have probably seen this chart

It was first compiled here and then reformatted and published here which is where I first saw it.

So the most popular photo show of 2009 was the 2nd Photoquai Biennale at Musée Quai Branly in Paris which hosted an average of 7,868 visitors per day. That seems like a lot. Or does it? Here's how it compares to some other daily counts.

American Idol viewers Tuesday 4/20/2010: 19.1 million

McDonald's burgers sold each day in America: 4.2 million

Average Daily Minnesota State Fair Attendance 2009: 150,000

New York Yankees average home attendance in 2009: 45,363

Average daily attendance at Disneyland Anaheim: 40,000

Average daily Louvre attendance in 2009: 23,300

Average daily attendance at the most popular art show in 2009, Ashura and Masterpieces from Kohfukuji at Tokyo National Museum: 15,960

Average daily attendance at San Diego Zoo in 2009: 9,000

Average daily attendance at the most popular photo show, 2009: 7868

In other words, photography ranks in popularity somewhere below pop drivel, french fries, livestock, cotton candy, and baseball. What's my point? I don't know. I guess I just love thinking about photographers as outsiders.


Ian Aleksander Adams said...

Photography, at least "art" photography, is an extremely small niche, something which many of its practitioners don't seem to take into account.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if half or more of the visitors at that popular visit were somehow in the family themselves (either gallery owners, curators, photographers, photography students, etc).

We talk a lot about what is important and what is not, but sometimes I just feel like my other obsessions are actually more translatable to the average person and the rest of society.

Damien Franco said...

I have to agree with Ian.

"Art" photographers are a small, and possibly shrinking niche, in a world where everyone owns at least one decent camera.

Every single one of my friends owns a camera, regularly updates their facebook with photos, or at least has a computer full of jpgs, but I couldn't arm wrestle most of them into going to a gallery or museum with me on any given day.

Yes...most of my friends are "average society" types who's knowledge of culture is severely lacking and who's judgment of art is suspect at best.

I'm working on introducing more people in my life who are appreciative of art, music, theater, and culture.

But there's a part of me that feels a duty...however convoluted, to be an ambassador of the arts to these otherwise fine folks and I would encourage all artists to do the same.

Blake Andrews said...

I agree. I used to gallery sit at Blue Sky and one of the jobs was to count daily visitors. I doubt if I ever counted more than 30 in a day. Usually it was more like 5 or 10. This was the old Blue Sky. They may attract more visitors now in their new space.

It isn't surprising that photography is unappreciated in the mainstream culture, which these numbers show. But even within the photo community it's hard to get folks to galleries. When I talk to my photographer friends I am consistently amazed that they haven't seen X show or Y show yet. These shows are out there for months, free for viewing, yet few take the initiative to go out and see them. It's a continual source of surprise and consternation.

You can't be a writer without reading. You can't write music without listening. I think it's very hard to photograph in a vacuum. The internet is a poor substitute. I think you have to see prints on the wall. And even if you don't have to, wouldn't curiosity drive you to anyway?

Anonymous said...

Good comments and article. It is a bit of an eye opener to see how small the photo arts community is. While there are many people who 'photograph' most of it is popular photography and they do not go to galleries. I remember posting messages on a local camera club-type forum with information on local gallery shows and getting no replies and few views. But when someoned posted information on the best location and time to photograph the local eagle population the forum was swamped. I eventually gave up.

Thankfully the number of good blogs and online galleries is rising and hopefully the small voice of the photo art community will never be drowned out.