I've been researching places to sell my work this week, tidying my Etsy store and just generally lurking my way through the many photographic worlds that exist online. The more I looked, the more i convinced myself that i didn't fit in anywhere in particular; my work seems to exist in a space between photography and art. I make arty photographs. And yet, I'm inspired by so many different genres, those influences creep into the way i look through the viewfinder. I find myself wanting to do it all – to take hundreds of Polaroids and create arty pictures for interior design clients and exhibit a series of portraits and develop a body of work that truly represents how I see the world. To position myself as an artist while still working in the commercial world. And I could do all this, and indeed I try, but as i travelled through the different sites this week I could see I'm spreading myself too thin, and perhaps I should pick a style and run with it.
All the photographers i respect have a very definite style and have nurtured it as their USP, and in a world filled with so much talent (and so much choice) we need that special something to help us stand out from the crowd. I've been wondering if my work lacked focus, but what i suspect is actually going on here is that I lack focus. The work is doing its own thing at its own speed, but I'm the one who is trying to do everything all at once, with every item on my to-do list a priority. It's almost impossible to get anything done when everything is a priority! Where do you start?
So as i ponder this lack of focus (a de-focussing tactic in itself) i have to acknowledge the other reason for my chaotic way of working: i put off the things i don't want to do. Like trying to sell my work to other human beings.
It's hard to sell yourself. To stand before the world with your work in your hands and say: here, this is what i do, this is how i see things. Please hire me! I feel confident in my abilities as a photographer but i fall down when it comes to promoting myself. I've spent too many hours wishing i had an agent who could do all the hard work for me while i sit back and create. And that's always the grumble, isn't it. To make art is not about sitting in an ivory tower dabbing paint on a bit of canvas when the muse strikes. No, as a very wise friend said to me last night, making art is WORK. Once in a while you may get a lucky break, but you'll increase your chances of success if you work your socks off. And part of that work is the boring stuff – the admin jobs and promotion.
I'm working at it, and i think it's time to take it up a notch. To be bold and brave. To give it my best shot. And to learn how to be my own agent – it's such a fantastic metaphor for living your best and most fulfilling life.
Be your own agent!