What is Success Really?

Amy Stein wrote in her recent post about Jill Freedman, “It's great to see an artist get her due after so many years, but it's disheartening to know you can have the goods and still fall off the art world map.” I don’t know if a show at a gallery no one has ever heard of and a Times article constitutes “getting her due.” I am certainly not saying that she is not deserving of the recognition or that I am not happy for her. It is always good to see people get the recognition they deserve (the photographers not deserving are the ones I have a problem with . . . but who am I to judge . . . ) I have to ask myself, what are the real motivations and goals of this new breed of photographers? By this new breed I mean every photographer just out of college a lot of energy and a blog? What is their idea of success? a show? sales? a book? a posting on Jorg’s blog?

For a paycheck (if you can call it that) I work for two photographers, both of whom have several books and are collected in dozens of major American and European museums. They are both represented in a few galleries (like that really means anything), and had work at AIPAD this year. They are also now in their sixties with no savings and no healthcare and are uncertain where the money is coming from after the next few months. I guess the most important thing I have learned working for them is that it is always going to be rough. And, while good things may happen—sales, shows, books—the only rational reason for being a photographer is the irrational love and necessity of making pictures. I can’t speak for everyone, but the moment, my only goal is to be able to continue making pictures.