Saturday, October 16, 2010

Price of the free

Autumn, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

S, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

One red, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Fields, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Cory Doctorow provided interesting views on free online content: "The sad truth is that almost everything almost every artist tries to earn money will fail."

Of course, the above is just one part of Doctorow's argumentation, but it rang a bell. The idea that you can earn a living as an artist is - and has always been - just that, a dream, except in some very rare cases.

So, what is the meaning of photography in the digital realm? If you can't make a living, why take photographs? Or rather: the reason for taking photographs has to be something different than earning a living.

It is an interesting situation that the biggest market for the "pro" cameras seems to be hobbyists who earn their living in some other craft. This doesn't mean that they are not producing exceptional results, only that the monetary value of their photography effort in earning a living is close to zero. The other side of the coin is that we are living in a time of abundance of artistic output, because people can afford to produce art without being paid for producing it.

So what is different now compared to any other time in history?


Markus Spring said...

Juha, this first image is just wonderful. These decolored leaves are of a transparent, almost ethereal quality I have rarely seen before, and their fragility gets underlined by that yellow leaf in the middle. I'd count this among the rare masterpieces.

And re. Doctorow: I am glad that it's free, free to see (which is all I am asking for now). And many of his assumptions are correct, beeing it about the failure of all digital restrictions management and their negative influence on privacy, and also about the very limited possibilities to make a living from art - which you correctly identify as similar throughout time.

To answer your last question: The difference is, that in the so-called first world more people than ever before have the opportunity to express their creativity in every field of choice. That it is probably based on an extremely unsymmetric balance of power and economy is a different kettle of fish.

Juha Haataja said...

Indeed, the diffuse light and the old leaves of lily-of-the-valley were extremely interesting visually, something to explore further...

And of the "free" in global scale, it is a hard thing that the severe global problems are to be met in a situation when there seems to be a widespread (and probably justified) distrust in those who wield power.<