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Monday, 18 January 2010

Photography as a Brand

Naomi Klein writes on how corporate branding has taken over America (and Obama) in the Weekend Guardian (Lord Forgive me). She writes about she had to resist becoming "...an anti-corporate dominatrix, making overpaid executives feel good by telling them what bad, bad brands they were."

She also writes about  becoming a brand herself, somebody who finds their message then repeats it as often as possible through as many different platforms as possible. She became a brand but, as she points out to clever interviewers, "I try to be a really crap one."

The main idea of this article is how branding has crept into all areas of life, including government and politics, how it has dehumanised us and turned us into corporate shells spouting repetitive sound-bites that relate to corporate-think, rather than being fully realised human beings with a range of ideas, emotions and means of expression - ideas that could help make the world better rather than just being means to consumption. It's not a new idea. John Cheever's Bullet Park, a fine uplifting book from 1967, basically says the same kind of thing. But good ideas always bear repeating and repeat it Klein does. And I repeat it again for her.

Mmm, as always, I wonder how this relates to photography and if photographers don't brand themselves and turn themselves into corporate little shells, spouting repetive picture bites, visual chains that regurgitate a message that is both dehumanising and mindless. Is style a brand? Is it? Is the medium a brand? How many find their niche, their thing, and just go with it, go with it, go with it. If it ain't broke and all that...

So I wonder how many people do brand themselves and I wonder if you have to brand yourself to be successful? And if you do brand yourself, does this ultimately make your work trite and worse than pointless. Does your photography become part of a dehumanising whole, is this at least part of the reason why near everyone I know has image fatigue, why everything looks the same, why there doesn't seem to be anything interesting or exciting out there anymore? Is it because we are simply seeing too many pictures, or is it because the continuous and relentless trail of promotions and self-branding produces a loathsome quagmire of images that almost drags us down into its clinging tendrils of sub-corporate photo/art-speak cliches. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/papa-doc.htm

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