That’s one word, like trainspotting, please. Two would make it an act, I wanna talk about the concept. And project.
Learning. Learning is a continuous process of idea, implementation and feedback.
It ranges from our comically outmoded, industrial revolution incepted education system, where the idea is to learn stuff (irrespective of whether you give a damn or not) in order not to get pounded into the ground by parents and teachers, the implementation is a fascinating 25 years (feels that long) of tests and essays and feedback comes in the form of a single letter ranging from A to F that determines whether you’ll live on food stamps or drive a Bentley for the rest of your life, to that gut-wrenching desire to do that thing you don’t know how to (idea) that leads to experimenting and finding inspiration in the work of others (implementation) and whatever form of putting your work out there (feedback).
Now, that was a sentence, right ? My Flesch Reading Ease score is taking a mighty battering. D minus, drat.
In all areas of that spectrum ranging from educational waterboarding to maniac lust for knowledge, the motivation for learning is always fueled by conflict. The conflict between where you are (a school bench) and where you want to be (riding a bike on a windy hill road with Kate Upton strapped to your back), your capabilities (pictures of a lady baking pancakes in a shed) and those of the people you admire (Solovki, White Sea, Russia, 1992).
Those who are neither chained to a school desk, nor eaten from the inside by the desire to improve one of their skills can rejoice in the fact that they know bliss. Others need all the help they can get channeling their muses and daemons. This project is for them.
Collecting. Collecting is a double-edged sword. It brings both a deep passion & knowledge and an unnatural thirst for more & loss of perspective. Just like gambling, collecting can drive you off the cliff bonkers. But, in moderate measures, it is one of the most fulfilling vices in life. Remember being a kid trying to find that perfect marble, that last Harry Potter or football card for your album? And as an adult, the legendary recording of that once-in-a-lifetime concert your missed, made by elite amateurs with their Nagra reels?
It’s great to print your own photographs. But it’s even better to see the best work of others. That brings inspiration, drive, excitement, awe, OK – some jealousy too -, and a lot of satisfaction when you turn to the well curated collection you have assembled over the years. And while it’s possible to visit lesser known galleries that highlight rising, affordable, talent, most art photography today is … pretty expensive.
If you don’t give a (insert rude word of choice) about collecting the work of other artists, skip this part basking in the acknowledgement that your own creative efforts are enough to satisfy you fully. If you do (give a …), this project is for you.
Sharing. The sharing economy is upon us. Why own assets that you don’t use when you can borrow someone else’s and offer those you do own to others who don’t ? If you still go to hotels when you travel for long periods of time, you’re in for a wonderful surprise when you first AirBnb instead. A whole flat for the price of a room. The freedom to cook for yourself. Interior design that doesn’t reek of corporate indifference. Very often, a very welcoming personal touch from the owner …
There’s a deep satisfaction in the accomplishment of reciprocity, a clan-building tendency we are hardwired for.
Remember trading those baseball cards with your best chum, as a kid? Ever helped a pal move houses and then shared pizzas on cardboard boxes in casa nueva in the evening? There’s a simple a deep feeling of satisfaction that comes from helping others, from being helped by true friends. It’s primal, and it beats buying expensive stuff for yourself any day of the week.
If you’ve never longed for that feeling of mutual satisfaction that comes from sharing, please ignore this section knowing I envy your self-sufficiency 🙂 If you have, this project is for you.
Galactic Peace. Yup. Nothing less. Just look around, anywhere, and try to find a leader (big corporation or government) that’s not trying to rise to power by turning people against one another. Just sit back and admire the tearing down a continent that had ensured 75 years of uninterrupted peace within its borders, a feat never experience before in human history, by glorified traitors pushing nothing but division.
It’s very easy to separate people into clans. You filthy Nikon users. Shithead Canon freaks. Dimwit Sony suckers … Basically, forum talk 101. But it’s just as easy to find common ground and shared interest. Remember when you were besties with someone and share everything, candy, secrets, books, holidays, Mandy (oops, did I just write that out loud) … ?
If you’re happy with the way Nigel, Donald, Matteo, Vladimir and the rest are raising their armies of perpetually bitter and angry citizens, nukes in one hand, A. Lange & Sohne in the other, then ignore this project and enjoy the news. If not, I’m hoping this project can bring us closer, even a tiny bit.
“What the heck is that project, then ?”
Oops, maybe I should have led with that 😉 Well, it’s in the title. Let’s swap prints. It’s that simple.
So, I gave 4 rational arguments, including saving peace throughout the galaxy, for starting a print sharing project. Only on DS, right ? 😉
However, the more emotional component follows. A glorious print by DS contributor Bob Hamilton hangs proudly above my settee. When Chris Stumb and I were discussing the printing of my photographs, he showed me several of his I’d really love to own. Last week, Adrian sent me his two timeless Pola-style distant storms, which I really love. Paul has published scores of pics I’d love to have prints of. Ditto many of Philippe’s flower galaxies and fog-draped river scenes. Then there’s Adam’s 7Artisan masterpieces that Kertesz would have been proud of. And Dallas’ gorgeous depictions of Oz and the poles are no less desirable than some of the stuff I’ve paid handsomely for. Steven Bennett’s stunning Grand Canyon. Steve Mallet’s Tuscany. Steffen Kamprath’s leopard and orchids. John Wilson’s incredible Man with the Umbrella and Third Person Anonymous. Kristian Wannebo’s wintery mornings. Plus all of those I’ve forgotten but will pop back into my mind later.
The reality is that, among DS contributors alone there is a wealth of high quality art that I would dearly love to have in print and I’m hoping some of these tremendous togs feel similarly about some of my pics.
And you, reading this but whose photos I’ve never had the luck to view, likewise. It would be so great to see your best work and swap with mine, on mutually pleasing terms. Right ? Think about the riches out there, if a printswapping community got going …
Implementation could be very basic or more elaborate. I can create a website with galleries, baskets, forms, and private sections, or simply link to your own individual blogs and websites. It really doesn’t matter so long as anyone can view anyone else’s work and “shop” around. For starters, if you’re interested, I’m happy to create dedicated pages on DS, with a dedicated menu and sidebar so that visitor can access the project pages very easily.
If you’re in, just send me a message (contact button at top right). Eventually, I’ll need pics of your prints and your email.
Then, in a few weeks, just look around and get in touch with the author of prints you like and offer something in exchange.
On a very personal level, I find this interesting because of the notion of shared value. This basically creates a free market in which two of us decide what value to ascribe to a given print in order to proceed to a fair swap. There are a number of ways anyone can increase the value of a print :
We can explore all of these (and other ideas, such as anonymity, recommended by Adrian) if the project takes off. In the mean while, I’d just like to hear from you in the comments or privately or both. I really think we can all benefit from this, on various levels and hope some of you will feel the same. Just let me know. And if you can think of any one else (individual, facebook group, club …) who might enjoy this, please please please share the link. Sharing. It’s all about sharing. A tiny bit of it goes a long way. Thanks 🙂
― Edmund Burke
If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.
― George Orwell
This applies to photography every bit as much as it does to writing.
Oh, and, the food series here has nothing to do with the subject of collecting, other than highlighting the notion of variety. I’m French, food matters 😉
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