“Haters” and the internecine wars

I’ve been prompted to sit down before a day of lesson planning for the pending school term to vent a little bit. A silent war has been raging between two factions in the SP online community. I admit to being part of one faction. My first entry in this blog was about the four grades of the photographic self publicist. The war is between camps 1,2 and 4 on the one hand and camp 3 on the other - sorry but you’ll have to scroll down to my first entry back in April see what they are. I woke up this morning to the realisation that, no matter what my views are on those who show a degree of arrogance and a heavy leaning towards commercialising their work (none of which appeals to me), they are entitled to do what they want. I don’t like it, I don’t respect it and I am deeply frustrated when I see it happening, BUT it’s their life and their work - so be it.

Do they actually make a difference? Probably not. I need to practice more tolerance towards those trying so desperately to have an impact in the photographic world, but when I see repeated tweets by a “working photographer” openly instructing his followers to “like” his Facebook page, my blood boils just a little. I am lucky that I have other interests in my life such as my new career and my family. SP is not something that I must do to make a living. That makes it no less important to me than it is to them mind you. But I am free from the tyranny of it being the means by which I feed and clothe myself. Maybe that’s a clue to the puzzle. They are too invested. I shoot for pleasure. If an image is published, sold or exhibited that is wonderful but it isn’t next month’s rent. I suppose that I could start giving workshops and it may be that the local rural photography clubs might be interested in ways to shake up their pastoral photography (a la Kate Kirkwood), but I won’t and can’t because I dont need the money enough to give second rate tutorials on something that I still know so little about. There are a lot of people out there offering workshops and portfolio reviews, some are reputedly excellent and some are dire. I’ve seen some on youtube by Alex Coghe, a self proclaimed photojournalist (I’ve yet to find anything published anywhere in print media or any outlets other than his own ) and one of those who refer to me as a “hater” because I dare to challenge his motives and approach. I don’t care for his work and I’m not alone. He, in turn pours scorn on the sort of images I produce (not the specific images -but the genre and style) . Seems about fair you say?. BUT the difference is that I don’t claim to be special. I don’t couch what I post in self aggrandising and often obscenity riddled and vitriolic blogs. I don’t take part in an interview conducted by a member of my own collective in which my interviewer/colleague aligns my work (and his own) to a handful of the greats. Cynics might say that such an interview may have been manufactured as a promotional exercise. Others might say that it was a two man circle jerk.

People seem to lap it up. But perhaps those are people who either genuinely like the sort of images that these guys produce (which is fine) or don’t know any different because they haven’t been exposed to the incredible wealth of photographic imagery out there and are too caught up in the cult of personality to think for themselves.

A month or so ago I dared to question the commercialism of this guy’s collective on his own blog.


I was polite and at no point attacked him or his colleagues personally and yet in one of the last comments he seeks to discredit my views on the basis that I am associated with five “trolls”. For “trolls” read “critics”. In any event does my association with them make my views any less valid and unanswerable? He has yet to explain the donate button on his site - donate to what exactly? I’m not unearthing some hidden guilty skeleton in his internet closet here, its openly displayed on his site without any indication of what our money will be going towards.

He on the other hand openly attacks anyone who doesn’t share his vision, couching his bile in grandiose and quasi religious language with a liberal sprinkling of f**ks for good measure.

I wonder where this battle of keystroked words will go? Nowhere I suspect. They will never persuade me to like their work or methods and I, in turn, will not be able to change (as if I have a right to!) their ethos. If they read this:

“Hater”? I don’t know you so I can’t hate you. I don’t like your work very much but that’s my right and shouldn’t bother you much given your disdain for mine. I do, however, hate the way you promote and portray yourselves. Great photographers are capable of humility and still succeed - provided that they have talent. Bloggers are capable of contributing to the community at large and celebrating the broad church that is [street] photography without foaming at the mouth and spouting dogma - you just have to look at Eric Kim’s tireless efforts to see humour and grace (even in the face of open and hostile criticism) in action on a daily basis. You have a right to behave as you choose, but don’t expect everyone to remain silent in their disdain when you use the internet as the vehicle for your publicity.

Slow and steady wins the race.

PS Don’t forget to click the “like” tab below. I need more Portra. ;-)

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