Photography is Dead / Guest Blog
Photography is Dead – Written by Caroline Madison
Last summer, at the Fashion week of Curacao, he won the award of ‘the best international fashion photographer 2012’. Not only he was a great artist but also one of the nicest people I have ever met. He was full of great advice, I loved hearing his stories and experiences. He definitely had a lot to share. I saw Bruno for the last time during my birthday weekend a few weeks ago. I will never forget our last conversation, about how much he despised the new upcoming wannabe photographers.
Those who steal work to real professionals, those who cut their prices and even ready to work for free because they are eager for exposure. Since digital photography has appeared, everyone can call himself a photographer. Internet, social networks did not make the situation better, even though they are today the main tools of promotion in our daily lives. The problem is that phenomenon has increased a real self narcissism and mediocrity. Now people post worthless s**t. I am amazed with the bad quality and quantity of pictures I see each day everytime I open my Facebook. Desperate to read hypocritical comments on mediocre images with: ‘amazing!!’, ‘pure talent!’, ‘perfection!’, ‘masterpiece!’ -_- .This is what I see unfortunately most of the time. People are either kissing other people’s ass or have shitty taste. I see no other explanation.I remembered once, that I was really chuffed about a picture I posted and made 10 000 views in 24 hours. I told Bruno and he said to me: ‘Cool, but what does that bring to you??’ Well, it actually brings nothing … Since that moment, I realized that views were nothing but just a number. A number is not relevant on what you do or are worth. It is nothing but virtual.
I am tired of reading: ‘like my page’, ‘check out my work!’, ‘like the photo not the link!’, getting hysterical because they reached 3000 followers. Ok, then what ?? Who cares if you have 3000 followers or not? does it matter that much? are they 3000 clients? if not, why caring so much?? This is what it is today, it all about driving the buzz. Do anything to stir attention and collect the number of audience. Again, it is not about the quantity of people who love your work but quality. Tired of being insulted or called a pretentious b**ch because I mostly refuse to pose for free, trying to explain that I am not interested in having ‘publicity’ or pretty pictures. I don’t want it, I don’t need it (unless you are awesome and it works on both sides)
I am not a model who pose automatically because you press the button. I simply have specific conditions that you need to respect and understand. I may sound negative or pretentious here. But I am not. I have true love and devotion for what I do. Always ready to give the best of myself. I only protect and defend some values. Defending what we do and provide. But I have the sad feeling that photographers are not considered for their true value nowadays. It is like it is not considered as a real profession but more like a hobby. I am angry because there are true talents who struggle to make a living of their passion. I am desperate with some attitudes and people that make the situation very difficult. I hear some people telling :’yes but you know, things work this way now.’ .. And you are ok with that ??? Alright, our society is changing. We are surrounded by social networks that emphasize our desire to be seen more than ever.
But do you find Instagram and other bullshit artistic? Exposing mediocrity and calling it Art, is that for the better ?? This is where photography is going… DOWN.
‘Defend your work’. This is what Bruno used to say. By defending your work, you are giving it a value. You don’t need magazines, photo associations or galleries to exist. You don’t need them but they need YOU. Because of the raise of amateurs that proclaim themselves photographers, the cut of rates, prices and even free of charge have killed the market and industry. Therefore the quality is not what it used to be. That is the main reason among many others why some professionals are being left in the cupboard. Some had to turn themselves to new professions. But for those who are in the industry for decades and have nothing else to do, what is happening? That was Bruno’s case, because agencies and companies that preferred to pay cheaper younger and less experienced photographers had no longer jobs for him. He had no more contacts. Photography was then over for him. Most of the time, it is not about what you know, but who you know. I will never ever forget his last words: ‘Photography today is dead, and I am dead too.’
Bruno was a photographer for nearly 30 years. It was the only thing he knew to do. This was his true love, his whole life. His endless love for women. For Bruno ‘beauty is more than just a facade: every woman has an inner beauty that is essential for me to bring to light. It might be just a question of a few millimeters or a moment in time…’ like he beautifully said.
He was angry with those wannabes he had no respect for. But mainly clients who prefer to give them work. He hated the new system. The current economic situation made things no better. He had no longer hope for photography and decided to leave instead of seeing what he cherished the most collapse. ‘There is no more work. I have no reasons to get up in the morning.’ These words are still haunting me. I can’t stop crying. I am so mad. I knew he was totally out of sorts and I was powerless just like many of us. I keep calling him with the hope he will be picking up the phone. I cannot believe he has left and decided to end up with his life. France has lost one of his greatest photographers. We have lost a master.
What a tragedy, what a scandal, what a fucking waste !!!! I know this isn’t going to change the situation or evolve in anyway.
The problem is more complexed than that and doesn’t concern only the visual industry.This event has been somehow an eye opener and has changed my perspective on many things. I think the access to latest technologies is amazing, social media etc have helped me to network with professionals and discover some great talents. They are fantastic tools of communication. They have changed our way of working but also highly raised the competition. The artistic industry has become a rat race. I have no problem with hobbyists, some of them have a true gift. And I believe that a few of them can turn into professional with experience and hard work. The question is, for amateurs and hobbyists, how far can they go without breaking the industry? I do not have all the answers … The subject is more complicated. Nevertheless if you have some respect for Art. THINK a minute about what is going on.. Success is not always about talent, but about making a smart business out of it.
Do not work for free for anything. Do not low the prices. Do not kill the market. Do not kill the real professionals and artists. Do not pay anyone to get some work or whatever exposure. It doesn’t work like that. If you call yourself an Artist, do care and start valuing yourself, skills and work. If you want to be treated like a professional, think and act like one. I am going to stop here, it would be way too long. Bruno always had the right words to encourage and support others.
But none of us was able to relieve your pain. You tried to hide your sadness with a smile … I remembered that we had planned to work together and used to tease me on when I was going get naked for his camera. You were one of the funniest men I met always making hilarious naughty jokes. Who is gonna make me laugh at dinner parties now? Who am I going to ask for advice and make fun about my ‘deviant’ modeling? (like you said so well) It is not the fact that you decided to go that hurts me. You had your reasons … What hurts me is to know how you felt at your last moments. Loneliness, sadness, despair. There is nothing more terrible to suffer and having no one around understand. I know what that is … Feeling pain, no hope with the future. Feeling that bomb deep inside of you, you want to scream your pain but when you do, no sound comes out. Only the tears, but you hide the tears and softly reply with a smile. That is what you did, smile. God, if only I knew, if only WE knew.Your vision on the world was fair and wise. Just like your were. I am so broken. So sad. I can’t accept it. My family is devastated. We all are. We have lost a friend and a precious human being. Not only you had talent, were established, you also had real recognition from the whole industry. And despite all this, you remained kind and humble. Always available for those who needed you at any time. You remain for me and many of us, an example, an inspiration and a reference.
Thank you for everything.
My warmest thoughts go to Bruno and his family. The bests are always those who leave first. We are gonna miss you so much. XXX