In the last months, I have been hearing so many friends and colleagues in the creative space expressing a frustration with our ways of engaging with our audiences since social media seems to have become our main vector. InstaGooners, all of us.
I’ll spare you a rant about the toxicity and the mediocrity of the entire 'influencer' revolution, its impact on the youth, on taste, on mental health, the materialism and the objectification it promotes, what it is designed for and what interests it serves … Let me just try to explain where I stand as a professional photographer.
Art vs Commerce. The eternal dilemma.
What did I sign up for when photography became my main source of income? What amount of artistic freedom am I willing to compromise, to sacrifice?
There have always been two camps. The ones who believe in finding out what the audience wants first, and then create to cater to market needs. And the other ones who believe the higher form of art comes from looking inward to connect to what Rick Rubin in his book "The Creative Act: A Way of Being", calls “The Source”; a force of pure unaltered creative expression. Market acceptance may or may not follow, but the consideration of serving a market is not involved in the creative process. Many successful examples can be noted in both camps throughout history.
However, the current situation with social media offers a new separate dilemma to both camps. Today, the creator needs foremost to cater to a synthetic algorithm in order to even have a chance to reach a human audience. The robot acts like a curation engine, a gate keeper, deciding if the market is even allowed to see a post. The robot’s prerequisites are based on a lot of confidential parameters that may be recalibrated or redefined unilaterally. The algorithm’s goal is not a secret: selecting the content that will keep the consumer addicted to scrolling, more likely then to be served the highest number of paid ads. It’s a simple and brutal volume’s game. A delivery of dopamine hits to both the consumer and the content creator is the enabling mechanism.
At the heart of my decision to take a break from social media and to explore new creative channels to communicate with an audience came the realization that my goal as an artist may not be to win a popularity contest. As a photographer, I allocate only 10 wedding dates a year. I want to remain exclusive and be able to offer my best work to these few special couples. It’s about the quality of that connection with my client, not about trying to appeal to everyone.
All that to say I am excited to explore ways to connect with you in a more meaningful way than hashtags. May this blog be part of it going onwards.
I hope you’ll log on once in a while to see what I am up to. I am so grateful for your interest. You’ll get to see the enthusiastic real me (not the reluctant instagooner trying to game the algorithm). Heck, you can even subscribe to my newsletter and be notified once in a while (I hate spam) when the blog is ripe for a new visit.
L'art doit être libre. Où il n'y a pas de liberté, il n'y a pas d'art." ("Art must be free. Where there is no freedom, there is no art.") - Arsène Bessette