Art and Success


My nephew Noah has a new film out called While We’re Young. It appears to be a story about two documentary filmmakers who become friends and help each other, but what it really turns out to be is a meditation on art and success and what will one do to achieve success.

We Baumbachs come from a family of artists who struggle with what it means to be a pure artist and what is selling out. I managed to avoid this when, in my early 20s, I decided to peruse photography — so I went into commercial photography. There was no need for art, only success.

However, I soon lost the love of taking photographs and went on to other things. When I got back into photography some 20+ years later I decided to avoid the art/success conundrum in another way. I didn’t leave my job as a computer programmer and continued to make my living that way.

Being on the outside looking in, so to speak, I see a lot of compromises that surprise and disappoint me, mostly by photographers who are well known doing me-too shots. I suppose this is what we have to do to make a living.

I would love to show only what I think is my best work on my web site. The site would probably be a lot slimmer. The problem is that a lot of what I sell isn’t what I consider my best work. Some of it is mediocre shots of well known places that I believe is done better by others, but they sell. The other problem is that I’ll be the first to agree with the contention that artists are the worst judge of their own work. So, as much as I don’t like it, my web site currently stays as it is.

One thing I did take away from Noah’s movie is that it’s one thing to be a pure artist, but being an introvert does not contribute to getting one’s work to be seen. In that respect, I’ll try to express myself with words more and more publicly.

So, hopefully, this mostly dormant blog will become more active again.

~ by danbaumbach on April 18, 2015.

One Response to “Art and Success”

  1. I fault no-one who sorts out the difficult business of photography by selling prints of popular locales. More power to them. What I detest, however, is the use of already-seen images to claim professionalism. It’s the biggest lie of all – the one we tell ourselves. Images of already-seen places captured beneath rosy sunsets are not enough to make one accomplished or “professional”, and those who perpetrate this myth do a disservice to others still finding their way to authentic image-making. I wrote about this on my site, in a post called The Wilderness Within. In any case, I appreciate your honesty here, and the images, even if they’re not you’re big sellers.

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