I find it comical that the very people who paint themselves as inclusive and a supporter of (insert your cause here) tend to be the biggest jerks out there. They virtual signal you, bash your work, then turn around and say they’re with you and your struggles as a minority. Heartbreaking when I hear the very people talk down on photographers who are just starting or aren’t in the same pedestal they believe to be sitting on. Perhaps it’s because academia tells them that if those who don’t have the same education as they do, then those who don’t fit the mold are inferior artists. While your own photos could be considered bad to these people, bare in mind photography as an art form is a subjective one. As artists we mustn't discourage others who have yet to find their why, their voice, the message and story they want to tell through their art. At any level in our career, I believe we have a moral obligation to reach out and help our fellow photographers and not see them as the competition. Considering academia perpetually promotes the snobby attitude attributed with the fine arts, we must support each other however small the gesture. Photography has a multitude of genres, some of which I don’t understand, but we can agree when we see beautiful work created by beautiful people. We have the freedom to express our opinions as to why we don’t like certain works in photography but if we do, I believe we must state why and not be quick to judge if we don’t immediately understand what we’re seeing.
I was fortunate my photographs went on display in the annual student art exhibit for the Vincent Price Museum this year. VPAM among other galleries, are what I consider to be the establishment, so far into themselves they lost the very mission they claim to stand on. To be frank, I despise both the museum and staff, not personally, but for what they claim to believe in. A few months ago they treated me as if I wasn’t cool enough to be a part of their show, even went as far as to make me feel unwelcome when ever I’d walk in to ask questions about the show. Not to mention they made no effort to promote the student art show. Worst of all still, was the day I came in to pick up my art work with my student ID. They gave me such a hard time because they wanted a California ID, speaking to me with a heavy, condescending demeanor after I mentioned I only have my school and Mexican ID. Most comical while waiting for my artwork to be brought from the basement, which I received damaged, was the group of students waiting for a tour to see an exhibit that promotes the struggles and oppression of immigrants and indigenous peoples, led by the very staff that treated me as a second class citizen for not having a California ID just minutes ago. Ironic, an immigrant from an indigenous tribe treated like shit by the very people who claim to be activists for my people.
Then there are the gear snobs. I believe it doesn't matter which medium you choose to take photos with, either film, digital, SLR or mirrorless, because labels are for cameras, not people. Let us appreciate photography for what it is, a way for us to connect with strangers, to build strong bonds with our friends, to have people fall in love themselves in our photos, to capture moments that slip through our very hands. If you’re a new photographer, use the camera you’re comfortable with. Don’t listen to people who act like children and talk down on your gear. If they don't like it, have them buy you a new camera, simple as that. No one obsesses over the tools people use to make our food, so why do we obsess over the tools photographers use?
Your camera should be and is an extension of you. Your camera is simply a precision tool. I’ve learned over the years, simplicity is key. Choose a one lens, one camera, one film stock combination to truly be a master at your craft. Someone once said, “to be a master, do the same thing a thousand times, not a thousand things one time.” Learn to hone the tools you have at hand, you’ll be surprised that as you grow as an artist, so will your tools. Yes, there will come a time when you will outgrow your current camera, but it will be because you have grown as an artist and not because your camera is deemed obsolete. If you learn to keep it simple, support local businesses that help our work shine, as well as other artists and vendors within our respective communities and continue to purchase American made products, i.e. Kodak film stock, together, we will keep our love of film alive for years to come.