Want salt and vinegar on your chips...

Simon Norfolk

For a second answer to the question of how photographers will market their work over the next five to ten years we turned to leading UK-based landscape, documentary and fine art photographer Simon Norfolk.

Said Simon: "In the few weeks between being asked to write this piece and me actually sitting down to do it, the international financial system has dissolved and the key banks nationalized.

All the money I had squirreled away to pay my future taxes and something for Mr and Mrs Norfolk’s old age has disappeared in a bizarre Icelandic banking collapse. So my prognosis about the economy over the next 5-10 years is not very optimistic, I’m afraid.

I gave up trying to make a living from editorial a few years ago, instead selling my work as limited edition fine art prints through galleries in London, New York and Los Angeles.

I still work for magazines - most of what goes on the gallery wall starts out as a magazine commission - but I see magazine fees as start-up capital.

If they ask me to work for three days, then I see that as three days to get what will make them happy and then I’ll stay on and do as much as it takes to satisfy myself and my print-buying clients.

I try not to accept work just for the sake of working and I try to always have a final masterplan in mind. If a story in anyway contributes to my long term project about ´The BattleField´, for instance, then I’ll say yes.

But this happy niche has only been made possible by my print sales. And the people buying my prints were the bonus-fuelled bankers we see on the evening news holding cardboard boxes outside closed-down banking headquarters. Who knows whether these people will now still be buying my prints?

So my predictions for the future? More "name" photographers will be cashing in their reputations to teach "masterclasses" to wealthy orthodontists.

So-called "principled" photographers will be cozying up to Russian oligarchs and third-world billionaires. None of us will be saying "no" to wedding photography or lucrative teaching posts which sell to young students the rarely-realized dream that they’ll one day have jobs as photographers.

My advice? Get re-skilled. Keep your photographic aspirations but try to get a trade like film editing, web-design or accounting.

Soon we’ll all be amateur photographers with real money-making jobs on the side that we don’t tell our colleagues about. We need to get over the snobbery attached to that.

And we have to be tougher in our demands. Magazines online will be built by re-skilled photography lovers around business plans that don’t include paying wages to the photographers they ask to write.

They pay salaries to each other, they pay the man who comes to fix the photocopier, but the "name" photographers they ask to contribute six hundred words get nothing. With business models like that, how can we survive?"

Eat in or take away.........

1 comment:

Andrew Bruce said...

I'm one of the many people who posted this on my blog also...
bloody depressing stuff, I hope he's being melodramatic, for all our sakes..