There are a lot of photographers now-a-days, easily a hundred times more than the “film days”. Then, I’d speculate there was a certain discipline and respect for the process. Film’s expensive and developing it on the fly a meticulous process that requires a certain technical/chemical aptitude. Now a visit to Best Buy and 30 minutes worth of YouTube tutorials and everyone thinks they can throw their hat in the ring and contend. I’m one of the Best Buy generation of photographers. Without mentorship, or education it’s been a fairly painstaking process riddled with growing pains. Every now and then I really want my hat back. Thank God for YouTube tutorials right?
I’m glad however I’m not a member of the old guard. I can’t imagine seeing the landscape of this industry shift from the glory days of big budgets to this at times flailing amputee of a trade that it is. If I had that means of comparison, I’d lose my mind. Being a photographer was a trade and now for a majority of photographers more of an accessory, a fad or something lightheartedly tossed around like wearing old Canon AE-1.
To the old guard, the ability to adapt and evolve is incalculable and the only thing that will enable many of you more seasoned artists and staples of our industry to continue moving forward. Without that capacity you’re a dinosaur, a docile exhibit or catalogue of days passed.
There are however exceptions and beacons of hope. It’s encouraging to talk to a tried and true artist who’s been able to contend and bridge the chasm. When you see an artist maintain status and relevance through compelling imagery, an unmistakable brand and that ability to evolve. It’s a good thing, a very good thing.
I recently sat down with Antoine Verglas, a photographer who was shooting these definitive 90’s supermodels while I was still playing with plastic toy soldiers. He’s an institution, easily one of the most influential photographers of our era.
(1)In the 1990s Antoine Verglas introduced a new style of fashion photography when he captured models Stephanie Seymour, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford in a series of intimate, documentary style photographs that ran in several international editions of Elle magazine. Prior to that fashion editorials were highly poised. Antoine Verglas’ photographs were more candid and uninhibited, with natural light. The guy is legendary; then and now.
In an ever multiplying landscape of artists the only way to stay relevant, to stay ahead of the pack really, is to be the best… or damn close.