I am old school. I feel it should be the work, and the meaning of that work, which defines the quality and success of a photographer. After all, without photographs our portfolio would be full of blank paper, and we all know how expensive fine-art printing paper can be.
But, it turns out I have been fooling myself. It’s not our photographs which take the lead in helping to make us successful, popular, and good-looking. It is our marketing efforts. Our bragging. Our bravado.
Last year I spoke at the Moab Photography Symposium along with, among others, Huntington Witherill and Bruce Barnbaum. Both masters of the art and craft of photography. These guys should be household names in the photo realms, but many of the photographers I spoke to ahead of the symposium had never heard of them. Why? Because neither Huntington nor Bruce cared enough to made the effort to develop a slick marking gimmick. Saps.
I have seen photographer’s websites in which they refer to themselves as “masters.” One claims he is “the world’s most famous photographer,” and another, a few years old than I, claims he is called the “godfather of photography.” Nobody I know has ever referred to him that way. A few years ago, I privately called out a faker who publicly claimed he was the artist-in-residence at Yellowstone National Park (they do not have an AIR program) while trying to sell a book. He was, unsurprisingly, a retired marketing specialist. He now hates me.
The trouble is, people are saps and suckers and this type of hype works. No matter how mediocre and cliché the work, a good marketing plan can elevate it to master-level.
So, in that vein (vain?), I have come up with my own plan. My own marking gimmick. My own branding:
Chuck Kimmerle, America’s Photographer
I feel more talented already.