We at CFYE asked ourselves: What is a professional anyway? Especially in creative lines of work like photography. What defines someone’s level of competence? We didn’t go to art school so we can’t lay it out in big expensive words for you, but for example: Street art doesn’t know any professionals, nor amateurs. There are people that make their living with it, there are kids that do it because they don’t have anything else to do. It knows no limits or boundaries and is, in a way, ultimate creative freedom.
What defines art, or being an artist? We know what we like when we see it, so we feature any artist that comes in our scope. But somehow, in some lines of creative work that wakes up the jealousy and envy in a few ‘professionals’. Especially (but certainly not only) photographers seem to have a hand in this. We have our opinions about why that is, but instead of rambling about it ourselves we present you a more interesting piece of thought, Edward Olive’s:
“Jealousy does not help. It eats a person up from the inside.”
You don’t need to “learn” photography.
I have turned down a job in the Madrid photography school because I would just make them into semi-clones of me. That wouldn’t help them and it wouldn’t be good for my business. I only know like two tricks and I don’t want everyone doing either cheap copies of them and I certainly do not want to see better-than-the-originals-heavily-influenced-work.
Art – in theory
I have no idea about such things.
I have no idea how they teach art or photography and I am not interested in knowing.
Art in reality is: soul, connections, communication, capture, preservation of moments in time, people and their insides, places and their essence, original, thought, original technique, original points of view, the provocation of thought, cathartic experiences, plays on words/puns/paradoxes, oxymoron, humor, sadness, joy, pleasure, any emotion, breaking barriers and conventions, personal exploration, the sharing of one’s experiences, obsession, reinvention, revolution, new angles on old subjects, putting together or combining preexisting elements in new ways, a reflection of an era and its norms, a reaction against the era and its conventions, a rebirth of old thoughts and techniques from the past that don’t now exist, political comment, social awareness, anything, everything.
No doubt a real art student/teacher/artist will just say I don’t know what I am talking about and define it correctly. When I look now at my own work I know I don’t yet come up to these standards of art. I will work on that.
Art – in practice
Of course we all know qualification as/ respect artistically for/art and artists and artwork only depends on: Fame, contacts and money. Nothing else matters.
These people who run galleries only care about money and helping their friends. They never actually look for real new talent and don’t see it when it stares them in the face right up close so they can feel it breathing heavily at them ready to punch them if they flinch.
Those who don’t fall into this dreadful generalization can write to me personally at info @edwardolive.com.
There those who have supported me and who have gone out of their way to help me. The truly great Japanese photographer Toshihiro / Tommy Oshima discovered me when I was starting and put his name on the dotted line being the first to publicly recognize what I do.
I don’t forget things like that. It helped. A lot.
In contrast there are many photographers who still refuse to recognize publicly that what I do. They know who they are and they may well read this. They will lose out. They are not helping themselves.
I had a technical problem one day and top Spanish (amateur) photographer Hugo left his family lunch on a Saturday to come and lend me his most expensive camera to help me correctly fulfill a wedding contract as best it could. I made a mistake putting myself in a position where I was open to technical failure risks without adequate backups. I made a mistake. That will not happen again and he helped out. Big time.
In contrast talentless soul-less local wedding photographers who pay bribes to corrupt priests to control monopolies on photography in church weddings in Spain have stood in front of me, pushed me, flashed my wide open f1.2 available light photos… anything just to stop me fulfilling my only aim of doing the best f*cking wedding photos I am able to do for my clients. The abuses of those mafia style cartel members who force poor Spanish couples to have their dreadful wedding photos through exclusive deals with churches is discussed here for those who read Spanish: http://www.fotomadrid.com/verArticulo/31. These people are pathetic. They know who they are.
There are professional and amateur photographers who take time each day to give me feedback and their feelings about my pictures on the web. I receive large numbers of emails from people who know nothing of photography other than an instinctive connection to emotions expressed photographically. I would not exist artistically and continue creating if it was not for the kindness of these people.
In contrast there are those who have sought to belittle my pictures. This has happened here in Spain, particularly in Madrid. Also when I traveled to Paris some time ago and shared my photos on the internet I was shocked by how much certain Parisian photographers showed hostility to me personally and to my pictures.
Jealousy does not help. It eats a person up from the inside.
Not everyone has to like all forms of art or all artists, but when attacks are motivated by spite and a feeling of personal insecurity of those seeking to put down others….
We all need critical criteria both for ourselves and others. It is important to decide what we like and what we don’t, what is truly wonderful and what is mediocre. But we need to be subjective and/or objective, based on reason and/or instinctive emotional reaction. Not based only on ulterior motives.
Best job possible for the client
There are professional photographers who refused to hire me as assistant when I was starting out through fear of losing clients or for fear of being shown up by the new kid.
In stark contrast is the example of Cesar Almodovar the Spanish fine art photographer/visual artist and audiovisual production company owner who did not hesitate to call me to help him with a maximum social level wedding job he felt he needed assistance with to provide the best he could for a VIP client who was his close personal friend. His only concern was to do the best he could for the wedding couple thinking that he also needed a second shooter who could do something very different to the main shooter. If that meant bringing me in he didn’t hesitate to fill that gap in his team.
Barack Obama does not know everything, he isn’t best at everything. He needs the best people with him to do the best job.
Check this guy who came with me to a recent wedding: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edelor/. Weddings may not be for him. Although he has talent (probably more than I do) being a principal wedding shooter may not be for him for reasons due more to a wedding photographer being like Rocky against Clugger Lang for 12-14 hours. But for fine art photography he’s someone you want at your side.
Foot in the door
There are photographers with connections in galleries and photography events who could have helped me get my foot in the door and didn’t. It would not have cost them anything. They deliberately chose not to help. They may pretend it didn’t occur at the time to help. That’s not true. They are not true to themselves.
If we see someone we think is young and new and red hot we should say so. We should not think if we will lose. Helping someone really talented is good all round for everybody. Nobody loses.
Check this guy who has shot one wedding (and just about everything around him) with only cheapo cameras I suspect bought on his student loan and probably beat me at my own game: http://www.flickr.com/people/meblob/. Young, sensitive, talented, good looking…. Grrrr. Delete him. Not.
You don’t need..
“You don’t need the best equipment, you don’t need the contacts, the venues, the top schools to create art.”
Anyone can make art whether music, photography, painting, poetry, dance.
You don’t need the best equipment, you don’t need the contacts, the venues, the top schools to create art.
Some teachers teach because they can’t do. Some teachers teach because they want to help. You need some luck there.
Instead of schools and fancy formal qualifications you need self belief, grit, endurance, the ability to take the knocks the knock backs, the derision, the people who want to take advantage of you, those who try to put you down, the years in obscurity.
You may never make it, you may never make a living.
If to make art is enough then that is enough.
“Go mess around with your guitar – it may sound better. Go drop your camera on the floor -focus is over-rated.”
Today there is almost everything we can study for free on the internet. It opens us up to the world as I suppose artist travelling to Paris from remote villages did hundreds of years ago.
Blogs are the new underground art movements.
The internet is also the most democratic way to put things out there, whether it’s a video of your piano playing, or mime skills… or whatever on youtube or your photos in blogs…
Who knows where you studied? People see the results not the CV.
I get people writing to me all the time to be an assistant sending me their CV. I have never read one. I do like to see their pictures though.
Are professionals right to act ‘smug’ and protect what they got?
Go mess around with your guitar – it may sound better.
Go drop your camera on the floor -focus is over-rated.
Many people give me the impression that they think they cannot be great because they are an amateur only and not professional.
Give me someone new, hungry, fresh, raw, with defects and technical inadequacies, imperfections over some all perfect, done it for twenty years the same, emotionally sterile, grey, professional living off his contact base. They should just disappear.
Teenagers are cool. They have youth. Youth is good. I’m getting old, I’m losing it and the more professional I get the more I lose it.
Clients should never feel really safe. They should always be aware that you aren’t totally tamed… that you can end up radicalizing some element of a job, that you may end up f*cking one of the red hot female wedding guests or one of the models on the shoot… and that’s definitely not professional whatever “fine art” nude expired polaroids and release you may get from it.
“True greatness comes from the ability to risk losing it all. Anything less is compromise. Compromise is not art.”
We need to remember the early days when we had principles and it wasn’t all about the money.
Being a full time professional is a quick way out of creativity. We need to do things just to have fun, to experiment, to break rules, to get things wrong, to take risks. Playing safe and professional all the time is just dull.
True greatness comes from the ability to risk losing it all. Anything less is compromise. Compromise is not art.
Compromise is for those who commute to work to an office, discuss what they saw on TV the evening before in the subsidized canteen, commute home, watch TV with ready meal and go to bed early without sex only stopping on weekends to go the supermarket in the boring regular car and to the DIY store if they are really feeling daring.
Those who compromise are comfortable and happy in their suburbia.
Those who wish to create art are frustrated and misunderstood in their squats and shared flats with DIY-free moldy bathrooms.
A very few artists live in mansions. To keep on the edge must be tough living in a mansion. It doesn’t matter whether you are a singer, an actor, a photographer. It must have its advantages though. I wouldn’t know. I don’t make what Mario Testino does yet and I may never do. He’s a bad example though. No doubt he has some pretty f*cking good houses but he’s still full on and not holding back at least as far as I can see.
Edward Olive – Amateur fine art photographer Sunday- Friday and professional wedding photographer on Saturdays
http://www.edwardolive.info/ firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.flickr.com/photos/edwardolive/