quick thought about art in the depr/recession

On the New York Times’ Homepage today they have a headline Reader’s Photos Picturing the Recession. They have photo galleries filled with images taken on peoples digital cameras and sent in, there is even a place to upload your own.  This isn’t the first one of these send us your own photos things I’ve seen.  A couple of different new sources have had them, this all comes on the wave of citizen journalism I guess. And it makes me sad.

In the great depression, photographers like Dorothea Lang and Walker Evans and Gordon Parks were paid to document what was happening in America. Their photographs were moving works of art that spoke to much more than what a snapshot can accomplish. And did I say they got paid? Yes, right I did.

Having an open place for participation, though exciting at first, leads to a dismissal of the artist. I know this is an issue with journalism as coveted spots and, on tv, time get taken up people who are submitting for free.  But the more it happens it seems to discredit those who want to do the work. If we can all do it for free why pay anyone?

Maybe we should stop submitting to these things.  Maybe there should be equal pay for anyone willing to put something in the public eye.  Maybe we should heighten photography again to an art form not just within gallery walls. Maybe we should let the journalists do their jobs. People who are trained and paid will do it better.

Anyway, just a little rant for the morning.


3 Responses to quick thought about art in the depr/recession

  1. washwords says:

    hmm, love your blog and think this is an important topic, worth thinking about much more. I felt much the same way as a freelance writer competing for jobs with those on elance who seemed to be “charging” fractions of a penny per job, if not outright LOSING money. How could this be??

    My feelings have shifted since. Yes, I think there need to be standards and rewards for professionals – there is a difference but… I love how accessible blogs (for example) have made the world and how they’ve opened the world of good writing to me from sources I never expected.

    Similarly, some of the best writers/actors/photographers… are those with no training who literally fall into it or are discovered. Romantic, maybe? but I believe in this. I love the work of the photographers you mention, but I also love seeing everyday takes on an everyday dilemma/experience.

    Anyway, thanks for provoking thoughts.

  2. […] What’s the trade off of a world where everyone is an artist, asks Words from Hannah. She reacts to a recent NYT photo gallery: reader’s photos of the recession, with interesting commentary on what happens to professional artists, with such openings of the lines? Quick thought about art in the depr/recession. […]

  3. Matt Dunn says:

    Loved this post.

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