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Art

June 11, 2012

The word has been buzzing around in my head for the past few days.

Questions like ‘what is its purpose’ or ‘what would you call art’ and ‘what would you called art that is being sold’ etc.

We used to debate about these things in college, over cups of tepid tea and samosas. Teas and samosas would get over and we’d never reach any conclusion but ‘each to their own’. Some of our  opinions were art was its own reason to exist; art, once it left the artist, did not belong to him/her anymore and was open to interpretation; art should not be commercialized.

I sat over a discussion today where I tried to explain that I had given up trying to ‘pitch’ my photography skills to clients. Sure, it is still a business but I realised that I lost the creative edge somewhere when I tried to look at it as a business. When I tried to think about terms like ‘invest’ and ‘growth returns’ my mind simply stopped functioning.

Sure, I keep balance sheets and try to figure out what I needed to earn every month to keep going and who had to pay up yet. But I never made it beyond vague ideas for marketing and cold calls.

My friend insists that if I need to stay ahead of the competition, I need to start thinking of those things. But I seem to have reverted to what I initially thought – “I Like to Shoot and so I Shall.”

Can one really be a ‘professional’ photographer with such an attitude?

A professional photographer not only knows how to shoot in today’s world but knows to deliver what the client expects. He also knows how to price and pitch to the client and I don’t know either.

I generally quote a figure I deem reasonable for the amount of work put in, which is always a tough task. As I shoot more, I get a better idea of what a shoot will require. And I impose terms and conditions. And somehow, most clients seem to appreciate it. Perhaps it makes me seem more professional.

One photographer said that when we throw around a little attitude with the price, clients think we are better. Sadly, that often seems to be the case. When you claim you are busy with several projects, or tell funny anecdotes, they seem to respect your ‘talent’ more.

Me? I just want my work to talk for me. I’d rather that you see my work and think you’d want to pay a certain amount for it.

I’d hate to sell my work to you by the number of photographs I can offer, freebies of coffee table books and albums and specialized portfolios. I’d hate to cut you a deal saying I’ll throw in this as an extra that the other photographer will not do. While I understand you are looking at the best possible deal for you in terms of money, I hope you’d also remember that this is art. It is your perspective that matches best to the artist.

There is a reason that something appeals to you and you want it… what is the point of bargaining?

Photography is perhaps one of most commonly seen forms of art that is not seen as art. There are so many visuals that we forget that it is a composition and a vision.

And when me, being a photographer, manages to forget that, it is a bleak day indeed. Perhaps I do not shoot as much but if I enjoy what I shoot when I shoot, if I manage to compose the picture that makes me happy, it is a good day. If that gets your appreciation too, that is a brilliant day because it means someone else can see my vision.

It seems banal to price such things but I need to buy my camera and pay my bills… and well, hell, it is a commercial world. So we ask you how much would you want to pay for such art that you love.

Perhaps we do whore ourselves out by asking that question… but I’m in the profession already. But I hope never to forget that I’m creating something special. That it is art. Not a product I’m mass producing. Investments, competition and growth returns pale in front of it.

It is art.

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