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Friday, 19 February 2010

Figjam - I would sell on personality alone

My favourite quote from the gallerists I interviewed for the BJP was from the delightful Gemma Barnett of The Photographers' Gallery Print Sales.

"If I could start again, I would be tempted to sell on personality alone."

That is a a polite way of saying there are photographers with massive egos,  egos which outweigh their talent and ability and, these ego-rich photographers might represent an overwhelming majority of photographers.

The sad thing is photography - galleries, magazines, academia - favour that kind of ego and the endless self-promotion that go with it. Endless proselytising of one's self, to the point where one actually believes it, is not consistent with a well-balanced, loving personality. Is there a middle way, or do you have to be an egomaniac to get ahead? Or just rich? Or well-connected? Or just capable of getting things finished and done? Or just capable of being able to put a few sentences together, or a few pictures, or stick to one idea and not wander off on a massive digression? Or all of the above?


Stan B. said...

I remember when but a wee lad in NYC, occasionally people I'd just met would promise to hook me up with so and so, and so and so. How nice I thought, complete strangers offering to help out- and with all the bad press about my hometown. Of course, all they were doing was listening to the majesty of their own voice. Which, I guess, is one step below selling on personality alone.

colin pantall said...

Lovely, Stan, but I think the personality Gemma is talking about is supposed to be a lovely personality - it doesn't come with a loud and majestic voice. Those people she would kick out of the sales room (I get the feeling).

Ian Aleksander Adams said...

This is why (being surrounded by battling egos) I didn't move to new york and pursue my commercial work. I couldn't handle it and I'm looking at starting a family and being a loving person instead. Maybe I'll be able to find a middle ground though - I hope.

Stan B. said...

Ohhh... Sorry (haven't run into many of them).

John said...

not too familar with the photography scene, anyone want to point me in direction of photographers who are representative of this

colin pantall said...

Bless you, Ian. I think you are one among many - there is a lot of resistance at different levels to the demands of self-promotion and becoming a brand. That resistance is an essential part of being human - though I think when I do it, it's just laziness and incompetence.