Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do You Know What Your Goals Are?

It occurs to me that there are probably a lot of photographers out there who really haven't spent a lot of time thinking about what their goals are, and more specifically what their priorities are for those goals, since it may not be possible to achieve all of them and either stay married or employed or at least have enough money to put food on the table.

O.K., you want to be famous, rich, in galleries, sell lots, hob nob with the famous, be remembered after you are dead, have groupies, make a meaningful difference and in general, have it all. But really, not everything is equally important and you probably already figured out that few of us are ever going to achieve everything on the list above. So some things are more important than others. Do you know already which is the most important for you?

Let's take them one at a time, let's also assume that I'm addressing people who have both personal lives (ie. family and friends and other commitments) and also a regular occupation, whether it be raising your kids or going to work. Below I describe some types of photographer. Don't be surprised to find yourself in more than one category.

There's the techy kind of person, usually a guy, who reads Popular Science in the doctors office, they like playing with gadgets, play with their cell phones and pda's, watches and other devices. That they don't really need these toys is irrelevant - it's just fun to play with them. Fine machinery that operates with precision really gets them excited.

How about the photographer who simply likes the challenge of making the prettiest pictures they can of whatever they turn their mind to - whether flowers, football or landscapes, grand children or pets. They may be happy to share the images but they don't "exist to exhibit" like some people do. The image provides it's own satisfaction - a job well done. There are millions of amateur photographers who fall into this category and it's respectable, rewarding and challenging.

Then there's the photographer who measures success by how much he can make from photography. It's important to sell his or her work because this is the feedback that tells them they are good. It feeds the ego to make sales, and besides it justifies buying even more expensive equipment.

And there's the artist, who needs to create, who left on a deserted island would continue to create in the absence of an audience, who often would create in other ways if photography were not possible - music, woodworking, painting and so on (even model railways?).

What about the person who's whole enjoyment in photography is centred on getting positive strokes from other people - from family, friends, customers, strangers, critics, publishers, curators and so on. They live to exhibit and publish. They attend workshops as much to be admired as to learn.

There are people who feel a strong need to leave something behind, to be remembered by, a way of still existing in some way beyond the grave. It's not enough to be clever or creative or arty, it has to be MEANINGFUL. Usually this translates in to not only different but often odd, outrageous, ugly, sordid, or strange.

I have to say that it was a good feeling when at the Farmers Market one day an attractive young woman offered to be my assistant, or when the curvy young hotel receptionist offered to model for me - why did I say no - might have brought a whole new twist to my badlands images, nudes amongst the cactus, nah!

I can see at least a little bit of all of the above in myself and perhaps you can too, but I'd be surprised if each was equally important to you. If you can identify the categories that are most important to you, you can then reflect on the kind of photography you do, how you are spending your resources, both time and money, and what steps it might be appropriate to take next to achieve some of these goals.

1 comment:

Douglas Woods said...

I feel you are quite right, very few of us are really aware of what our goals are. Yes, we seem to have goals but they are often too vague to be meaningful. Maybe they are no more than dreams or fantasies.
How many of us take the time to write down our goals or state how we are to achieve them?
You are perfectly right, our goals need to be made more meaningful if we are to achieve them.#Thanks for this insightful post.