I've decided to change direction a bit. I'm going to photograph for myself mostly and not enter shows as much. I've established an Instagram presence. If that seems to be rewarding after a while I'll continue. I'm not really sure how my photography is being received and, at 77, I wonder if I'm being indulged. Then too, after these years of making images I look at "contemporary" photography and a lot of it seems distant from the art. So the "Exhibitions and Awards" section will be briefer I suppose but the work will go on.
You know, like where it's going, for instance.
Historically I've been an "art" photographer since 1967. That's when I started to learn the processes and came under the influence of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Gene was never cruel but he had an eye for craft standards and an aversion to making the same photographs over and over. Not to say he never followed a theme now and again but sunsets, cats in windows and reflections in still waters didn't show up much.
My budget in the early days was limited... very limited. If I hadn't been able to pick up great equipment while I was in Vietnam I doubt I could have continued. The only real trouble having no money caused was not having presentation materials, mounting board, things like that. But the condition forced extreme scrutiny concerning what I did print. Worked out OK.
Since those early days in Kentucky I've always photographed "my stuff" but I also had to contribute to the household income which meant working, sometimes at photography. I had a string of photography based jobs from Maisel Photochrome to Georgia Tech finally to Grafica, Inc. as a graphic designer and a photographer. Only since "retirement" have I been totally concentrated on my own work. Here is what I have found to be the world of photo.
Success in art photography is as much about who you know as anything. I would like to say it helps to be proficient in the craft but that's not consistently true. After you have a fairly extensive portfolio, or big stack of photographs, you can start entering shows around town or around the country. You pay an entry fee, usually $35 to $50 to enter from 3 to 8 images. If you're accepted you have to print, mat and frame the selected images and then get them to the show on time. There is a juror, maybe two or three, besides the gallery owner or museum curator of photography. I'm never sure who makes the final decisions or if there is a "this is the way it is" session before the judging begins, but I'm seeing some strange selections, mediocre photographs, bad craft, sameo-sameo. For people who are the movers and shakers in the world of museum quality photography very often the images chosen I've seen many times before.
Of course you can hope that exposure to the same jurors after a while might call attention to your work once they've chosen it, not so much. The "blind"system could guard against that kind of recognition, if it does... The goal for most serious photographers, all the while, is gallery representation or a museum show, purchase by a museum, maybe a book...
I conclude, you must do it for the love of it.
There are a couple of rather maligned words in our language, maligned because they are often misread as punishment and belittlement, the words discipline and critique. The concepts these words represent, especially in art, are desirable and necessary. Without discipline the basics are confounding, repeatability or the development of style become impossible. Critique, that requires trusting another artist or group of artists to be as objective as possible and at least illuminate the road if not travel with you, can become the tool that moves an artist forward, helps them see themselves and their work more clearly, provides a path for creation and improvement in craft. South Street has become that for me, critique. The discipline part is a tenet of my existence.