Jun 9, 2008


"Theresa Hartford", Jammin' at the E&M Market, December 2007

Let me preface this post by saying that it has no real substance or real meaning other than pointing out an observation I've made.

I'm not even sure where this came from or why, but I just discovered the parallels between the careers of photographers and musicians. I see three groups that can be classified. The famous and world reknowned, The indie groups, and the local acts.

The famous group (music and photo) includes a a lot of names. Some known for their pure artistry and originality in the field, others for their technical superiority even if lacking substance. This group is among the elite. Guaranteed sales no matter what they churn out, the fanbase is devoted and extremely large.

The second group "indies" are still highly successful and most people in this group use their art for their full-time income. They don't get the notoriety of the famous group, but their following and sales are enough to support a content lifestyle. There are way more in this group than the previous group. Same categories though, commercial and technically proficient acts, along with artist that are paving the way with new work and cutting edge style.

Lastly is the local acts. The group that has a 9-5 job and this is their creative outlet and devoted hobby. They are the most populous group of all. They devote all of their non-working time to their hobby and love to share it with others. There are probably more "hidden gems" in this group than we know.

I also think that the road to the top group is a fairly similar path. Lots of time spent getting your work out there. Putting it in the right person's hands. That person either has the ability to make things happen or is connected to someone that can make things happen. Then come the agents and reps to help continue to market and make others aware of your work. At this point the artist can sit back and just worry about producing the art that got them there and less about getting it out to the masses. I think at this point you have made the indie group. Some are completely content playing soldout shows for 300-400 people night after night and traveling in a pimped out winnebago. The sales are paying the bills and a little more. Then a small portion of these "indies" are plucked from the group and placed on a rung above everyone else. They are seen as the either legends or the very best of current trends.

If you are still reading this I applaude you. I have nothing else to add. Basically it was a pointless random parallel that I for some reason felt like sharing. Take from it what you will.


Andy Frazer said...


I agree 100% with your comments about the parallels between photography and being a musician. In fact, when a few college-age kids asked me if they should pursue photography as a profession, I always tell them that it's like being a rock star: it may be creatively rewarding and glamorous, but the odds are stacked against you for reaching superstar status (which is what they're usually hoping for).

I hate to burst their bubble, but I want to set their expectations correctly. And that's a great analogy.

Andy Frazer

Aaron said...

Yeah, all I'm realistically hoping to gain is indie status. Something like Kyuss from Palm Springs, California (although they broke up in '92 so that's a bad choice) or maybe Hank Williams III? Or Modest Mouse before they gained Star Status and totally changed their sound.

Tour the mid-level clubs, sign a few autographs for the cult followers, make some cool vintage t-shirts with band name on them, ya' know, stuff like that. Oh, and the ability to quit the dayjob would be an added bonus I suppose?

jimmieknuckles said...

you forgot about one thing,
the one hit wonder,
and im sure you can find a good share of those in photography.

thats all im hoping for man,
that one shot of some politician sticking his finger where it doesnt belong,

and i m rolling

adam k. said...

yeah haha. the one hit wonder.

anyway.. i dig the stuff. much respect.

r.h.i. said...

'one hit wonder' makes me wonder what the photographic equivalent to 'american idol' will look like.

but anyway, there are a lot of parallels between photographers and musicians as stereotypes, as well - neverending discussions about if it's better to record on analog gear or which brand of guitars, amps, effects etc. to use... some swear on bulky old synthesizers while others use slim digital racks or even plugins. some prefer it more natural and unprocessed while others rely on effects and lots of 'retouching'. etc. etc. etc.

Aaron said...

that's a good one r.h.i.