Thursday, 24 February 2011

The poor photographer



Going on from the previous post, can one be a poor and successful photographer?

What are the cheap projects that have succeeded with photographers living and working on just a pittance, with equipment that costs just a pittance?

Anything that uses macs, any photoshop after 5.5, any camera over $500 does not count.

Any ideas? Post them in the comments.

18 comments:

Cáit said...

MIroslav Tichy

kathers said...

Dash Snow?

Stan B. said...

Been racking my brains trying to think of names or projects- problem is, even the most modest of photographic projects turn somewhat costly when seen to its ultimate fruition- some form of print, that is.

That said, one of the most moving photo exhibits I've ever seen (early '80s maybe, and forget the name) were small 5x7 B&W portraits of "Bowerey Bums" (back when The Bowerey in NYC was on its last legs of being skid row writ large); they were very clinical, "artless" photographs. What made it such an experience however, was that beneath each portrait was the subject's own story on how he ended up there, typed on modest 4x5 index cards. Simplicity to the core, and moving beyond words or images.

Also, Garret Izumi photographed two "modest" projects right around his neighborhood, then self published two simply made but lovely little books that are a pleasure and wonder to behold!

http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com/2008/01/garret-izumi-surreal-estate.html

bren said...

Richard Billingham with Ray's A Laugh

Anonymous said...

Richard Billingham-Ray's A Laugh

Studio54 said...

I made a book of photographs shot with an old Olympus XA..

http://www.studiofivefour.com/Dont_Miss....htm

maria kapajeva said...

what about John Stezaker?
I never heard that he spent lots of money for these posters and postcards which he used in his collages. Moreover, his apporach is very recyclable as it can be called nowadays.

Dancing Sadie said...

I think Eugene Smith died with something like 12 bucks in his pocket...

Anonymous said...

Used digital gear can be pretty good.... last year's Dell laptop on ebay $200, used D200 = $400, etc...

Limitations can be creative benefits, you use what you can get and stop dreaming about shit you don't need.

jon said...

Are you saying that for someone to go digital they need to go out and buy a digital camera, a PC, basic software and a printer etc?
Well, most of the population already have these things. Not all, but most. OK, film cameras are cheap, but film isn't, and development and printing isn't. Buy a scanner? Well, a good scanner isn't cheap either. If it wasn't for digital, I wouldn't be in a position to explore photography at all. (a good thing quite probably)
My camera and software cost a bit, but if you translate the number of shots i have taken ( yes I know all about how shooting film makes you more selective and disciplined and how that's a wonderful thing blah de blah ) into how much money I would have spent using film shooting the same or even half that number, it would be well over double/triple that and rising. Digital means I can shoot lots and learn by my mistakes without worrying about how i am pissing money away. I could never afford to do that with film. In my view, people using film are the privileged, wealthy ones, not digital users.

james said...

I agree with Jon. I work at a photo lab, and it's surprising the amount of money poor photo students will spend on film at $5 a roll and processing at $15 a roll. For the budget conscious photographer, used digital equipment is an incomparable resource.

Brenda said...

Darkroom work has always emphasised economy, good 35mm cameras are almost free, B&W developing costs pennies, VC paper is cheap, so yes, I do think one can do it if poor.

It's getting the exposure that costs money, but hey, t'was ever thus.

Timothy Briner said...

Jacob Holdt comes to mind...

Stan B. said...

Damn! Jacob Holdt should have been #1 on everyone's shortlist! He lived hand to mouth for years while creating American Pictures...

Another candidate- Robert Bergman.

Design. Photos. Stuff. said...

Well, I can't speak of any poor projects as such, but talking of "poor" photographers, Willy Ronis was successful and he was happy enough using a humble Pentax ME Super :-)

Stan B. said...

He may have been humble enough to use one- but did Pentax sponsor this name photographer to do so?

PS- One of the most beautiful 35mm SLRs ever made!

Garret Izumi said...

You can absolutely create meaningful work on a budget. The foundation is the approach and attitude going into the work. All the money in the world won't make a bad idea good, it can only make the surface shinier. Life and art are about working within your limitations while gaining insights from experiences.

cheryl said...

jon said...
Are you saying that for someone to go digital they need to go out and buy a digital camera, a PC, basic software and a printer etc?
Well, most of the population already have these things


To work at a high level with digital, requires a camera capable of producing large images and several lenses, a computer capable of handling very large files - and lots of them! And it requires more than just basic software - probably Photoshop. You can skip the printer - it's probably cheaper to get your images professionally printed on quality equipment, than it would be to try and duplicate that kind of setup on your own. If you already have those things, then you're set! But if you have a basic laptop and a point-and-shoot camera then it would take a significant investment.

To work at a high level with film most likely requires an old Hassleblad you got for under $1000 on eBay, with a couple of lenses included. Then maybe $500 for darkroom equipment you found on Craigslist, and another $100 to make your bathroom light-tight - and you're set!

Digital definitely has a quicker learning curve - you can become a capable photographer much faster using digital, but I doubt that anyone who has spent significant time working with both digital and film would claim that digital is cheaper. It's just not.

Featured post

"I still don't understand why it didn't just end here"

I saw a Twitter post with the picture of Trump mocking a reporter with cerebral palsy. "I still don't understand why it didn'...