There’s a huge difference between the big players in the field of photography and say, everybody else. Not the least of these is the fact that “everybody else” wants to be one of the big players. Every now and again though, something interesting happens that seems to level the playing field, if only for an instant, between the big players and everybody else.
Rob Haggart, the photo editor whiz of APhotoEditor.com has set up the experiment and is closing the doors as we speak. He’s got over 1200 people (as of this writing) connected to the flickr stream where he’s culling entries. Each entrant is allowed to add two images to the pool. What’s interesting are the people who have cast their lots.
Certainly not all the people who read the blog are pros. The overlap between his readership and that of David Hobby over at Strobist is considerable and that alone should widen the field. Plus, the folks that read APE seem to read Chase Jarvis’ blog, as do the Strobists. The interesting thing about these is that both Hobby and Jarvis seem to be really happy helping the amateur community. The readers in both of those places are active in asking questions about technique and posting homebrew answers. Over at APhotoEditor, the crowd is more interested in the travails that accompany being a pro. The difference isn’t a bad thing, it’s just, well, different.
Beyond that, Mr. Haggart’s opened up the ranks at flickr (which generates a whole other set of complaints from the pros who read his site). A lot of folks point out that if people claim to be professionals, they ought not have their portfolios hosted on flickr. That seems fair, given that flickr is a place where everyone can post and so there’s no sorting between the people who are sharing vacation snapshots and the people who are professional photographers. A different cadre extolls the merits of the site. I use the site for hosting and to share with a few people and I don’t know that there is a right answer. Meh.
No matter how you spin this though – no matter whose images make Mr. Haggart’s final cut – there will be a number of winners. It looks to me like the small guy gains possible exposure, which is a big deal if he’s still part of the everybody else crowd. With a little ingenuity, the chance to see what other people are shooting on the big stage is a prize too. The big players get a bit of validation (whether they need it or not). They get to prove to us (and I count myself among “everybody else”) why they’re professionals. I think it’s a cool experiment and no matter where I come out, I’m happy to have taken part.
Despite that, I still have my fingers crossed. (grin)