Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pop Quiz

I recently bumped into someone I hadn't seen in a while. "Any shows coming up?" she asked. God how I hate that question. I know it's not intended to be rude. It's just making conversation. But I don't think it's very important. "Any shows coming up?" You might as well ask "What did you eat for breakfast?" or "Write any good blog posts lately?" In regard to making photographs it's equally irrelevant.

Of course the question has a subtext. "Any shows coming up?" really means "How's the photo career going?" Because exhibitions are generally regarded as a measure of progress, especially to people viewing photography from the outside. It's something they can fix in their mind and get hold of. And I suppose it is relevant to making a career in photography. But it has very little to do with actually being a photographer. Making images and scheduling images for a wall are two very different activities.

So what should you ask a photographer when you bump into them? I don't think I've ever asked another photographer about their exhibition schedule. Instead I usually start a conversation with, "Have you made any interesting photos lately?" or some variation of that. Then we can get someplace. But of course that's just a suggestion. You could ask about their musical taste or recent psychic explorations or their kids or whatever. Photographers tend to be interesting people, although some of us aren't chatty.

Where will this shadow be in one hour?

Sometimes you'll need to weed out the real photographers from the riffraff. In those cases it's helpful to ask more pointed questions. Any street or found scene photographer worth his salt should be able to reply immediately to these:
1. Point north.
2. Describe 10 people you saw the last time you were downtown.
3. In the northern hemisphere a tree's shadow falls away from you. After an hour, which direction did it move?
4. When a preoccupied person notices you approaching, they might look up. Where do they typically look next?
5. What's the weather forecast for the next 5 days?
6. How long does it typically take you to walk a mile (to nearest minute)?
7. What's your remaining shot capacity today (either on film or memory card)?
8. What time will the sun set tonight (to within 5 minutes)?
9. What did you do wrong on the last shot?
10. What did you eat for breakfast?
Again these are just suggestions. Invent your own. Talk them over. Just please don't ask about fucking shows coming up.


Ralph Waldo Emerson said...

Every artist was first an amateur.

Stan B. said...

Cut 'em some slack, Blake! After all, those poor, ignorant... nice, well intentioned folk really are trying (far as they're concerned) to engage the best (and only) way they know- before the endless prattle about football, the girlfriend, wife, kids, that nagging pain in their...

Suggestions: "Is that a good camera?"
"Sell any photos lately?"
"Can you put a big zoom on that camera?"
"Win any grants this year?"
"Can you make big blow ups with that camera?"
"What permanent collections are you in?"
"Does that camera cost a lot?"

Love the photo by the way...

PS- Did you take it with a professional camera?

Jack said...

I personally have no shows coming up and none planned. I'm swearing them off. After all it's not like they lead to sales.

Blake Andrews said...

"Read any good transcendentalist quotes lately?"

Mike Rotch said...

Kissed your own ass lately?
Oh the bother of being asked about your show schedule. Oh boo hoo.
I hope someday everyone can become a "real photographer" like you, you fucking snob.

Stan B. said...

Easy there Mike-O! It's good to have a little fun and let off some steam every now and then- esp between shows.