“There is nothing wrong in that.”

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The Tenderloin

There was a fellow photographer whose work I discovered on Flickr and really liked. I gave a few comments on his work and he responded back favorably. He asked me for some advice, as he was going through a tough period finding the time to shoot, and working through issues both personally and photographically. I responded with some advice, and with some of my story, as someone “older” and “experienced” could. He wrote back thanking me, but was surprised to hear that I had a job. I asked him what he meant? He said, “I thought you were a pro, just shooting all the time.”. I posed a question to him, “Do you think one can make a living shooting the way we shoot? What kind of market is out there that can supply us with a steady income to support one’s habit, food, shelter, medicine, and family? I resigned myself years ago, that to photograph the way I wanted to, I needed to find employment to support me while I do the thing I like. There is nothing wrong in that.”

I have not heard from him since.

About Keith Goldstein

Lives and works in New York City.
This entry was posted in New York City, The Tenderloin and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to “There is nothing wrong in that.”

  1. Adam Isler says:

    I’ve come across this quite a bit. When I was a young man I aspired for many years to be a professional photographer. I was waiting to be “discovered.” Eventually I learned that most of the currently working great photographers I admired also had day jobs: they shot product shots for catalogs and glamor shoots for magazines. Very few were in a position to make a living off sales of their personal work. As a “hobbyist” I’m free to shoot what I want rather than what commerce dictates. For some, this devalues my work. It’s not really my loss.

    • loisajay says:

      Well, you are one heck of a professional hobbyist, Adam! And I mean that in a most positive way.

    • Very true Adam. I can remember when I was younger and finding out that Lee Friedlander, shot album covers. Winogrand did editorial work. All the greats I admired had to make a living somehow, somewhere.

  2. Don Springer says:

    Keith, wise words. I would apply the Inverse Square Law to it. Less is More and More is Less. So, having a job to work and survive means having less time to make photos. Less time to make photos (to the wise) means MORE quality time to work. The most important work from any artist thru history is born from the struggle to make it.

    • Don, this is the only way I’ve known how to work. It is a struggle. Unless money rains down from the sky, I will continue to do what I have always done! Thanks brother.

  3. loisajay says:

    I have to admit that when I first started following both you and Adam(Adam told me about you!), I thought you both did this for a living. I think your photographs are amazingly wonderful. But your comment to the Flickr photographer kind of shows that he must be young. Or hopeful. Anyway, I am just happy to see your photographs each and every day. Never disappointed. Always amazed at what you capture.

    • Thanks Lois! I always appreciate your thoughts, comments and seeing your work. It if was a living, I’d be in heaven ….. but then there would be other pressures. My day job is very involved with images and video. It always is about photography. My own work is my release. One day I will be able to get up, grab my camera, just explore life, and hopefully not worry too much about the pressure of making money to survive.

  4. Keith you have hit the nail right on the head. Your response is direct and to the point. I work as a museum security guard and along with my co-workers most of us are musicians, artists, painters, and photographers. All very gifted and talented people but as you said there must be a market for your calling, passion and genre of artworks. To survive in this country you need a regular steady paycheck plus health and dental benefits, especially if you have children to support. Very few people are “discovered” or make it to the big time. As for me I’m happy just being able to showcase my photography on my separate Photography blog. I can truly say I take photos that catch my eye and speak to me. Now it would be nice if I could get paid for my photos but I must be realistic as rent and bills must be paid. Until a rich patron comes along I’ll be doing my night shift at the museum.

    • I am at a point in my life DeBorah, even though I find things unacceptable, I accept them as they are. I know myself so well now. Things happen every now then that show me I am on my journey and it’s good. I won’t stop until my breath does.

  5. Reblogged this on Espiritu en Fuego/A Fiery Spirit and commented:
    I work as a museum security guard and along with my co-workers most of us are musicians, artists, painters, and photographers. All very gifted and talented people but as you said there must be a market for your calling, passion and genre of artworks. To survive in this country you need a regular steady paycheck plus health and dental benefits, especially if you have children to support. Very few people are “discovered” or make it to the big time. As for me I’m happy just being able to showcase my photography on my separate Photography blog. I can truly say I take photos that catch my eye and speak to me. Now it would be nice if I could get paid for my photos but I must be realistic as rent and bills must be paid. Until a rich patron comes along I’ll be doing my night shift at the museum.

  6. themofman says:

    I run across this all the time! The assumption that you are only a successful artist; photographer, illustrator, fine artist, musician, dancer, whatever, if you’re making enough money from it to do it full time. This assumption perpetuates the starving artist myth.

    It is extremely common for today’s artists to supplement incomes with day jobs. By doing that, that makes us not starving artists but pragmatic, realistic artists. Making minimal financial profit from out work is different from making 0 profit. Minimal means that you have an art career that you’re pursuing and even growing. You STILL ARE a professional because you make financial profit from your art, even if it’s a minimal amount. 0 means you have a hobby.

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