Sunday, 28 March 2010

Tough Call

The view from a train: A moment in time on Darlington railway station.

The great photojournalist Robert Capa once commented that working as a freelance photographer was like working as an actor. There are many similarities in lifestyle and work ethic; both have to deliver creative performances by plucking things out of thin air, find work amongst a vast throng of talented competitors and have the ability to ignore criticism/rejection. However, after attending the first actor auditions for the Whitby based vampire film 'Christian' yesterday, I've come to the conclusion that the photographer has the much easier job.

Out on a limb perfectly describes the audition process. Imagine standing before three strangers (I'm one of them, folks) and reading a part you may have never,ever seen before. No shield. No protection. No camera to hide behind. Nothing. All you have is your talent. Just you. That is a bit too up close and personal for my liking. My photographic work is often judged by clients, but over the years I've managed to emotionally distance myself from it. It is just a photograph, not part of me. You have to be able to take flak, because destructive criticism is cheap and readily available everywhere, delivered by bitter and twisted individuals who believe their viewpoints are the only ones that really matter - just look at most website forum sections for examples of that.

Distance is a luxury that actors probably find tough to achieve. They are the talent. They are the canvas/artwork. Photographers can go into many areas of work from photojournalist to advertising, but an actor will tend to get parts based on two factors - first their acting ability and, second, how they look. That's why most actors are very outgoing and confident. They have to be! I tend to think of people as either predominantly watchers or players and, naturally, actors are players. Photographers are usually watchers, but some can be both watchers AND players. The photographer Cindy Sherman is a great example of that. Me? Oh, I'm a watcher, definitely a watcher dear reader, and i imagine you are too.... no?

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