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Masquerading the Masquarade

Filing in the blanks. Stock photographers fill in the empty spots of an agencies collection. I really want to know, who gets up one day and decides to become a professional stock photographer ? “my job”, I would assume they are thinking “will be to shoot for an archive”. Hopefully for them, they will be so much smarter than the industry itself and will shoot that ‘special” picture that everyone needs, becoming zillionaires.
Mmm…The holy grail of photography.
What kind of photographer travels half way around the globe to shoot the devastating result of an earthquake in an already challenged area and decides to send all their images as gray scale ? or use a $2 camera ( think Holga) ? or worse, decides to distort the whole think with a lensbaby ?

Might as well stay at home, take a big hammer, and slam it really hard on ones’ foot.

Photographers have the right to try things, I agree. But to a certain extend. On one side of the spectrum there is a whole mass of buzzing photographers shooting stock for clients they have and will never see. They are entirely at the mercy of photo agencies because they were created by them. On the other, pros that believe that distorting reality is a definitive selling advantage.

I am aware that some photographers, like Paolo Pellegrin combine Holga and B/W, and still manage to be published. But this is the exception that confirms the rule.

Because they are taken with no audience in mind, stock photographs have no emotions. They are blend, stripped off of any and all feelings, aseptic. Everytime I look at RM stock photography I feel I am walking in a hospital, with its lifeless white walls. Like pasteurized cheese. It looks like cheese, but it certainly not smell nor taste like it.

Likely, I do not want to see actresses roaming the red carpet of a movie premiere who spend days on make up, hair do, choosing a dress , in boring lifeless black and white. There is no “decisive moment” on a red carpet. I do not want to see a tragedy stripped of it colors that make it multi dimensional and thus humane. Do sports photographer shoot in B/W? Why not? Well, maybe because the image itself defines the moment and that it needs no artifacts.
Reality has colors. Reality has defaults. More important, reality has emotions.

Somewhat related additional reading:

A great post by Jesse Nivens: In Search of Stock(y) Photography

Author: pmelcher

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