Many years ago I attended a Photolucida portfolio review. I don't remember the exact year it was, but it was back when the cost of attending was somewhere in the neighborhood of $675. These days Photolucida costs over $900 so that should give you a little idea, perhaps, of how long ago the first event was.
Each time I've attended Photolucida, it has been a stretch for me financially. My college does pick up part of the attendance fee, but the attendance fee is where the costs BEGIN. There are perfected prints to create, cards and other leave-behinds for the reviewers, portfolio cases & various gizmos to carry them all, and on and on. Furthermore, if you are successful and get shows, the expenditures begin anew, as now the work must be matted and in many cases framed, then there is packing and shipping. All in all, it's a lot of money, and it is money that the artist has to come up with. This is all on top of the normal, expected costs of doing the work: cameras, lenses, paper, darkroom supplies and equipment -it's all $$$ some of us also spent a lot of time and money on our education.
The first time I went to Photolucida, I was disappointed that I was not scheduled with Marita Holdaway. I thought, "oh well...she's just a few hours away in Seattle. I'll seek her out after the event." Only to discover that she wanted $75.00 just to look at my portfolio. Last time the same thing happened. Two different people recommended I seek out Jason at Panopticon. But I go to his website and it's the same thing. In a way, I understand that such a fee helps filter out people who are not serious about their work. But some of us ARE serious, and should be applying, but can't justify laying down $75 for the privilege of hearing how great we are, but....
But I have always wondered: In what other profession does the person working pay like we do? I am really curious about that. I mean, if a student in medical school knew that they would have to pay for the privilege of performing double bypass surgeries there would be no doctors. So why are so many people dying to be photographers? What are they looking for? Is it fame? Recognition? It is one thing to be a photographer for the sake of self satisfaction...it is quite another thing trying to "make it" in this field, where every Tom, Dick and Keri think they are a photographer just because they purchased an iPhone.
*** *** *** ***
OK. So something a little bit similar...today today I received a catalog from Breitenbush Hot Springs. And found an entry for "Winter Service Week." I am completely serious when I say that this is an opportunity for people to go to Breitenbush to PAY TO WORK. Yup. the "discounted" cabin fee? $310 for a cabin with no toilet. Those who enroll are asked to bring clothes for physical outdoor work...here is the ad:
But paying for a cabin at Breitenbush for a weekend work-toot is not the same as building a career around an activity that requires lifelong outlay of resources with very little return.
*** *** *** ***
I did think of one more example of a person who got others to pay him to allow them to work for him. Tom Sawyer, right? And the damn fence...where he convinces other little kids that the job is so cool that they offer him gifts so they can have a chance at it. And we, the readers, all knowingly nod our heads at their folly. I have finally gotten to the point of being able to nod my head at my own folly, I suppose. I am finished with conventional ways of engaging the world of art & photography. I've gotten recognition, it's true. But I live in the real world, where real money is required of me in order to stay alive. So, sorry, but I am checkin' out of this rat race. What's next? Not sure. But I'm interested in finding out!