Rome Is Burning
Actually, it has already burned to the ground, but the smoke is still thick. However, rather than sitting here being nostalgic about a glorified yesterday, the true artists innovate and renew themselves, ensuring a stronger tomorrow. As if it wasn’t obvious enough, I am talking about the industry of fashion photography. Some post you should read.
Rome Is Burning
Confusion is dominating this beloved art form as print is dying, film expiring, and a flood of new kids are creating a ubiquity, making it difficult to survive as a professional. Is it a transition, or will everything be lost once the smoke has cleared?
Two years ago I wrote a column for an art publication arguing how the recent popularity of fashion photography, brought on by affordable equipment and digital media, has had some extremely negative effects on the business, but had also brought with it some undeniably positive side effects. While it certainly has stranded some of the dinosaurs of our industry, this (r)evolution has fostered a large number of artists we’d most likely never discover if it wasn’t for cheap DSLRs and sites such as tumblr, flickr and Facebook.
Fashion Photography has always been competitive, but nothing like we’re seeing today – turning it into a buyer’s market forcing artists to sell their services for next to nothing just to get a client under their belt. Retrospectively you can say that’s what being an artist is all about -prospering in hard times and out-innovating the competition. However, the rules we play by have changed with this evolution. And they have changed drastically.
A fashion photographer is no longer just found playing around in his or her studio or dark room all day. The photographer of 2013 is found with a device at hand posting updates on Facebook, checking reblogs on Tumblr, and likes on Instagram. The successful fashion photographer in this day and age isn’t just a photographer, she’s a full-time marketer and promoter as well. She’s an influencer and a brand, stacking up followers worldwide.
Self-promotion is nearly everything – at times out-winning sheer talent – so knowing how to navigate in this digital world is an existential must for an aspiring photographer. Not only do you have to stay on top of what’s happening in social media, you need to keep up with a constant change in trends as new media is transforming faster than ever before.
While it is hectic and all-consuming to be part of, I’ve noticed an aspect of the shift that’s stirring up even more concerns -history is being left behind. And yes, I understand that objectively this sentence doesn’t make any sense at all, since leaving something behind is pretty much the definition of history. What I am referring to is that the founding fathers and the stepping stones of fashion photography are increasingly being forgotten about. Although I argued in this article that the trend isn’t altogether negative, I find it somehow concerning that this new generation of artists don’t know who influenced their work indirectly.
Did you know Edward Steichen in 1911 was “dared” by Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazetta du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography? That’s a 102 years ago, and it is widely considered as the first ever modern fashion photography shoot. That is more than a century of brilliant artists laying the ground for the kid running around with a Canon 5d Mark III today shooting tests for Wilhelmina looking for a breakthrough.
But instead of fiddling like Nero was while Rome was burning, we at Breed have decided to pick up our tools and participate in the construction of a new empire. Contributing to a positive progression in fashion photography, providing the new generation of fashion photographers with a perfectly balanced portion of knowledge and guidance while paying respect to history, mixed with extensive tutoring helping artists conquer the business as it is today, and not yesterday.
We wish to bring forth the new Breed.