The Future of Art.

Over at the always delicious BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow has posted a link to a little nugget by Kevin Kelly that seems to dovetail nicely with the issues that have been floating around the photography community. There’s an overwhelming concern that photography as we knew it is dead. The advent of the prosumer digital camera and the high functioning home computer has flooded the market with people who make photographs and can sell them cheaper than the professional photographers of yesteryear. Or at least, that’s what it looks like.

Small stock houses have sprouted up everywhere, bolstering the belief in the averge joe that he (or she) can not only be a photographer, but prolific image creation will make him (or her) if not rich, definitely comfortable. There’s always a bit of bellyaching about it over at A Photo Editor, where a lot of professionals comment.

The answer is simple, says King: We all need 1000 True Fans.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

Clearly, King’s example speaks mostly to recording artists and perhaps to image makers who don’t use cameras (y’know, painters, illustrators and the like), but there must be some kind of corollary for photographers. Maybe the answer is to have, instead of 1000 true fans, some number of true photo editors (for the editorial crowd) or some number of true stock buyers, or some number of families who need weddings shot or Christmas pictures or whatever.

Still, the idea of a true fan is, if nothing else, interesting. If you get it to work, definitely drop me a line.


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